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    Fast track to love via Latino speed-dating

    Fast track to love via Latino speed-dating

    Posted on 10/02/2010

    Joann Santos, 31, has five- minute chat with John Paul García, 37, at a Latino speed-dating event in the East Village

    New York Latinos have found love in the produce section at Pathmark. On the Staten Island ferry. At the Latin Quarter nightclub. And lately, they’ve been looking for sparks at speed-dating parties like the one Friday at the Leopard Lounge in the East Village.

    Felicia García, 26, a college admissions counselor from the Bronx making her third trip to these twice-monthly meet-and-greets, said one connection turned into a three-month relationship. Until, she said, “I learned I should ask right away if they have kids.”

    While García’s traditional mother is eager for grandchildren, hearing about the increasingly popular way to meet drew one response: “Tu eres loca” — you are crazy.

    “I don’t even know how to explain it to my mother,” offered Cristal Rodríguez, 26, a paralegal from the Bronx and a speed-dating first-timer.

    How about calling it a game of romantic musical chairs?

    At Friday’s Latin night, hosted by NY Minute Dating, about 20 men and women chatted at small tables as the dim bar glowed with votive candles and red boudoir lights.

    The scent of sandalwood drifted through the air. The heartbeat thrum of “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart” by Alicia Keys played overhead.

    Every five minutes, the men rotated to the next table of amorous possibility.

    Alex Martínez, 27, a banker from Chelsea, had been on a dinner date at Dos Caminos just the previous night. “Couldn’t have been that successful because I’m here,” he said. “Tonight, I’m not anticipating anything.”

    “Letting things play out” was also the attitude of John Paul García, 37, a Filipino business manager with a self-described “corazón Latino,” Latin heart.

    “Guys don’t court you anymore,” said Joann Santos, 31, who hadn’t been on an official date — “These don’t count,” she laughed — since last summer.

    Born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, Santos explained that the last guy she met, in December, just disappeared.

    “We spoke on the phone about going to the Christmas-tree-lighting together,” she said, “and then I never heard from him again.”

    While her Guatemalan mother has always been “supportive but watchful,” Santos said she won’t be telling her about these five-minute fixups. Not when all her other stories about New York dating left her jaw dropping or, as Santos described it, “boca abierta.”

    Besides, Santos found the men this night only “interesting” and planned on leaving town for the upcoming Valentine’s Day weekend.

    nydailynews.com