As dozens of guys crowded New York City’s Union Square for a date Sunday, it soon became apparent they were all there for the same woman.
And it all started with a Tinder message from a woman named Natasha Aponte, according to New York Magazine.
One man, identified as Spencer M., said she messaged him on Tinder and asked if he would like to “get a drink sometime,” according to Gothamist. That message came about a month ago, Spencer said, and Aponte said she was busy with a “presentation” so the date would be later.
After a month passed, Aponte said her friend was playing a DJ set in Union Square Sunday, and told Spencer to meet her in front of the stage at 6 p.m., according to screenshots posted by Gothamist.
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He wasn’t the only one.
A Twitter user shared their own experience with Aponte. New York Magazine and Gothamist identified him as Misha.
He described it as “an epic tale about subterfuge, dating in the 21st century and the fall of human civilization.”
Misha’s story starts like Spencer’s: He matched on Tinder with a “very attractive young lady,” who said she would like to meet up for a date but was too busy at the moment. Aponte messaged that she would be free in a “week or two,” Misha wrote, and eventually invited him to Union Square at 6 p.m. so they could watch her friend play a DJ set.
Sounds familiar, right?
Misha wrote on Twitter that he felt like something was suspicious, even as he agreed to the plans.
As guys arrived to the DJ set, at least some began to notice something wasn’t right. According to New York Magazine, one man, identified just as David, said “everyone started realizing what was going on” when a guy standing next to him asked, “Are you trying to meet up with a girl named Natasha?”
Spencer said he realized the crowd was “a huge sausage fest” with mostly other guys standing in front of the stage, according to Gothamist.
Misha described what happened next when the music stopped and Natasha walked out on stage.
A video shows Aponte standing before the crowd of befuddled men as she explains her reasoning.
“My name is Natasha and I have a confession to make for everyone here,” she says. “Everyone here today was brought here to be on a date with me. ... So the reason behind it is dating apps are very difficult and I said, ‘OK, how do I solve this problem? Maybe I can bring everyone in person and see how that goes and solve this once and for all.’
“So do you have what it takes to compete against everyone here to win a date with me … look around the crowd, can you last longer than all these other guys?”
At first, she weeded out some of the guys by disqualifying all Trump supporters, heavy smokers or those shorter than 5’10”, according to Gizmodo. New York Magazine reports that she also removed guys if their girlfriends ended the last relationship they were in because “I completely trust her judgment.” Beer bellies and khaki pants were also immediate no-nos.
Then she had the guys compete in a sprinting contest.
Nicholas, another man who was tricked into the mass date, said Aponte also did a “live swipe” where she judged each man, Gothamist reported. In Tinder, a swipe left means you aren’t interested in a person, while a right swipe means you are.
Nicholas said he “left at that point,” according to Gothamist. It’s not known if Aponte — who describes herself as a model, actress and singer on Instagram — found a man to date.
Gizmodo reported that according to New York City Parks Department, the New York Police Department knew about the event and allowed it to proceed.
Rob Bliss — known for creating other viral videos including one that showed a woman getting catcalled in New York City — said in an email he was behind the stunt, according to USA Today. The “project/video is about gender, dating, and technology issues, and the absurdity of modern/app dating,” the newspaper reported.