Whovian Singles Night: Just What The Doctor Ordered
At a coffee house in Tampa called "Sacred Grounds," more than 100 Doctor Who fans don costume pieces like fezzes, trenchcoats and sonic screwdrivers - an alien multipurpose tool that does just about anything BUT home repair.
They gather by the main stage. Some exchange nervous looks and laughter. The speed dating activity is about to start.
"You'll be presented a scenario," said Ken Spivey, who organized Whovian Singles Night. "Something crazy is going to happen, like a Doctor Who adventure, and how do you and your companions stay alive?"
Ken Spivey is the man behind "Whovian Singles Night," a yearly event that matches fans of the show with new friends or potential partners. More about him in a moment. Let’s talk about the show that's stayed on television and radio for more than 50 years.
Doctor Who follows the adventures of an alien named "The Doctor" who travels time and space with human companions in a spaceship that looks like a blue, 1960s British police box. It's called the TARDIS, which stands for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space.”
The Doctor Who fandom spread across continents and generations, inspiring fans like Spivey to write songs, craft costumes and start conventions.
"I feel like, in a way, the show encourages us all to feel like we're companions as well so that we're traveling with the Doctor, when we're together, we're all, in an odd way, experiencing the gestalt of the Doctor,” Spivey said.
Whovian Singles Night gets its name from the fans, who call themselves "Whovians.” The word was even added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2012.
The event branched off from "Time Lord Fest," a larger Doctor Who convention, also in Tampa. The convention started a few years ago as a fundraiser for Spivey's band, "The Ken Spivey Band," which performs Doctor Who lyrics set to Celtic or Renaissance music.
Songs like “Time for a New Companion,” “We Need the Doctor” and “Why Did You Let Rose Tyler Go?” tell stories from the perspectives of the Doctor, companions, allies and enemies.
Singles Night gives fans a chance to meet their own companions. Some even find love.
“And before you know it, different things happen. By the way, will you marry me?” John Sapp asked his girlfriend of one year during our interview.
Sariah Pitts gasped and clapped her hands over her mouth in shock.
Sapp and Pitt, Tampa residents, met at last year's Singles Night. They celebrated their one-year anniversary at this year's event where Sapp proposed beside the TARDIS.
Sapp said proposing at the same event they met at just made sense.
"I figured out of all the things I could do. I think the event that had the most definitive moment between us was that first moment of being able to see each other, meet each other,” Sapp said. “Full circle and everything."
They're not the only ones to return yearly to the mini convention with the same partner.
LeAnn and David Moder didn't meet at Whovian Singles Night but their unique story garnered them an invite. They shared their tale about a tussle with their homeowners association that went viral.
The Parrish residents had a Doctor Who-themed wedding in 2012. They built a full-scale TARDIS for the ceremony, and it later ended up in their driveway. Last fall, the homeowners association said the police box had to go. The Moder's story spread and soon, news crews and bloggers showed up on their doorstep, eliciting messages of support from Doctor Who fans as far away as the Netherlands.
"A guy wrote a parody song 'The HOA took my TARDIS away' from the Ramones,” David Moder said.
“It was fabulous,” LeAnn Moder said. “I'm going to talk to someone about a family T-shirt. (It should say) 'Home is where the TARDIS is, just not in your driveway.'”
Inside the coffee shop, the speed dating scenarios continue. Spivey introduces a new scenario, this one taking place on the University of South Florida campus, where many of the attendees are enrolled in classes.
"You and your companion have been given free reign by our honorable president Judy Genshaft to use whatever means necessary to defeat the dinosaur threat, yet she has approved not additional budget for this endeavor. Weapons are not allowed on campus and you must use whateverisalready in the classrooms the laboratories or any other part of the campus, including engineering, to defeat the dinosaurs. How do you defeat the great USF dinosaur invasion on a budget? Go!"
In October, many of these same fans, and couples that got their start at Whovian Singles Night, will come together again for Time Lord Fest to celebrate their love for the show and one another.
If you go:
What: Time Lord Fest
When: October 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: The Event Factory, 7565 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, Florida 33615
Price: General Admission: $25 in advance, $30 at the door
Student Ticket: $18 - Current K-12 & College Students
Military Ticket: $18 - Current & Former Military
Tickets and special ticket packages on sale at EventBrite.