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Dinner at eight dating agency

Just as group-dating protected women of the Greatest Generation, many today see it as a shield.

"I don't know how willing I would be to go on a date with a stranger," explains Jacqueline Malan, 25, who has been in two groups set up through Ignighter.

We wanted to come up with a way to meet new people and still be with our friends," Mr. On Ignighter.com, groups are formed through an ambassador -- a kind of social director -- who invites his or her friends to join.

The group is given a name, a members' photo is montaged together from the individual ones that have been submitted (creating a sort of artificial group picture), information about the group is filled in, and a link to everyone's Facebook profile is inserted. And this is where it becomes a bit different from your typical singles event. Any individual in the group can ask another group out on a date, but everyone in the group goes, eliminating some of the awkwardness that plagues singles events.

The series see celebrities go on number of dates with members of the public to see if they can find love.

The fourth series again stars Eden Blackman and Nadia Essex as the dating experts and Tom Read Wilson as the show's receptionist.

By HANNAH SELIGSON To the untrained eye and ear, the scene of young professionals sipping cocktails with a steady stream of popular music playing in the background seemed like a typical Thursday night at Forum, a trendy Union Square watering hole for those born around, say, 1983.

It was confirmed that each celeb gets to take one date with them to the series finale at Cape Verde.Dan Cere, the author of "The Experts' Story of Courtship," a report put out in 2000 by the Institute for American Values, is concerned that this practice is part of a "hanging out and hooking up" culture.If a group date ends in men and women pairing off to engage in some kind of sexual activity, he says, it "may feed into a male tendency toward loose, noncommitted sexual relationships with women."But talk to women who group date and you find that they are not looking for no-strings-attached relationships."Group-dating is the only kind of dating we encourage up until about the age of 20," says David Pack, the Pastoral General of the Restored Church of God, in Wadsworth, Ohio."It's a lot easier to maintain barriers with other people around."But there are others who worry about what this trend means for young people.It was a way of saying 'I belong to youth culture.'"While the sexual license of "petting parties" shocked Jazz Age parents, by the 1940s and 1950s group-dating was encouraged for reasons of propriety."Parents wanted to keep their daughters from being alone with a man, since having a child out of wedlock would ruin your life back then," says Ms. And, of course, many religious communities have continued to promote group-dating throughout the 20th century.Group-dating came on the scene in 1998 with 8at8, a service that sets up dinner dates with four men and four women and now has 25,000 members in six major metropolitan areas.Then came the Internet and, with it, sites like Team Dating.com, which has a concept similar to Ignighter's.Group-dating plays to the tastes of a generation that's become disillusioned with Internet dating sites, particularly the lies that users tell about themselves online; the futile process of trying to meet people at bars; and blind dates that feel like job interviews.Instead, these young men and women want to have their dating lives simulate the way they meet people in real life: through concentric circles of friends.

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