TSO Reviews The League: A D.C. happy hour, but you never get to leave

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Washington: The League is a D.C.-based dating app that aims to replicate all the worst parts of happy hour using an extended baseball metaphor. The app is still in beta-testing, but it has enough users that even after a month, I have yet to run out of potential matches. More people are apparently joining each day, so while I haven’t found Mr. Right yet, he could still be out there!

The League is marketed as an app for the D.C. ‘elite’. In order to prove your ‘elite’ status, you have to let the app connect with your LinkedIn. Luckily, my complete lack of employment was balanced out by my graduate degree, and I was allowed to enter the hallowed ranks of The League. Your current or most recent job is displayed on your profile so that potential matches can decide if you’re too much of a pleb. I found this feature helpful as it made it easier to enforce my strict ‘no consultants’ policy. It was less useful for networking it turns out guys don’t want you to message them on dating apps so that your roommate can learn more about their Fed job.

The next step is building your profile. It’s just like every other dating app, but with the added bonus that they filter your first profile photo into black and white to make you seem classy. While this process was largely as expected, The League has a couple of profile features that, while not unique, were a little odd. For example, you can opt in or out of disclosing a religious affiliation, but you have no choice but to include your ethnicity. The League also asks for your height, possibly in an effort to avoid that awkward thing where guys put their heights in their profile and inadvertently reveal how fragile their masculinity is. You then have the option to filter potential matches by age, height, religion and ethnicity.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to Hispanic Jews over 6ft., you can start browsing potential matches. An aspect I really liked was that you only have a limited number of choices per day. Every day at 5 p.m. (happy hour, of course, because this is D.C.), the app releases three or four profiles. Once you’ve been through those, you have to wait until the next day to see more. As someone who has definitely been guilty of swiping away at Tinder out of sheer boredom, without bothering to respond to any messages, this feature made me a little more thoughtful. When your choices are limited, there’s an assumption that you’ve swiped right because you’re specifically interested in that person, and I found myself considering whether I would actually want to speak to or date the person before I decided which way to swipe. That turned out to be a good decision, because guys on The League are chatty. If you match with someone (a ‘home run’), you should expect them to message you within a couple of days. Apparently, you don’t ‘play’ The League the way you play Tinder. People are actually there to date.

If you find that four matches per day just aren’t enough, you can make use of the app’s most confusing feature: tickets. Users can cash in one of their tickets to do a couple of different things: they can buy an extra batch of matches to see every day, they can boost their profile so that it appears in more people’s daily batches, or they can ‘power move’ (the equivalent of a Tinder Super Like) to demonstrate to a potential match that they’ve already swiped right. I still don’t understand how one earns tickets or buys more of them, which seems problematic considering that dating apps are largely meant to be idiot-proof. But, I can see that if you’re very serious, these features probably increase your odds of finding someone you’re actually interested in meeting.

Finally, once you’ve matched with someone, you have 22 days to make your first move or the match expires. This creates less urgency than the Bumble 24-hour limit, but does keep your list of matches short and well-curated. Again, I found this forced me to be more thoughtful about who I wanted to match with when you only have a few guys at a time to talk to, you want to make sure that you don’t hate them before they’ve even sent you a cheesy pick-up line.

There are a few other unique features on this app, none of which I’ve taken advantage of because it turns out I’m quite the dating app traditionalist. The League curates ‘groups’ for people with similar interests, and runs regular events for the people in those groups to meet up and bond in person over their love of wine or shuffleboard. It also has a ‘concierge service’ an account that I apparently can’t unmatch from and periodically pops up to tell me interesting stats about user activity. While I did enjoy learning that posting photos with dogs has a positive effect on men’s matches, and actually causes women to lose matches, I still haven’t really figured out the point of the service.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found love on The League. While the promise of a cute British accent has been enough to provide me with a healthy number of matches, my lack of D.C.-centric chat has definitely worked against me. The League is a D.C. app – it’s for people who love D.C., who love going to happy hour a few times a week and talking about their work in government or at a think-tank. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should definitely check it out. For me, it’s been a pretty good way to collect restaurant and bar recommendations, but that’s about it. I guess I’ll just have to go back to meeting guys the old fashioned way: on Tinder.  

Issy is a second year MA student from London, concentrating in Global Theory & History. You can find her on Twitter at @issymayaschmidt

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