JCrushed It At Haus
Jewish dating app, JCrush, brings online dating offline
Sometimes it pays to be press. JCrush hosted a pre Rosh HaShana party at Haus on West Broadway last night. Within a minute of entering the swanky nightclub in Tribeca I was handed a drink on the haus then ushered to the exclusive, elevated DJ booth, encased in glass, before being seated at our own private couch and table. It was like being in a reverse aquarium.
The thumping techno music provided by DJ Rich Kid, neon strobe lights, colossal, gold chandelier that flashed from green to hot pink all worked together to evoke a 70’s disco vibe.
The open space was pitch-black, save for the bright flashes of light. Private lounge tables with wraparound leather couches on two semi-elevated levels studded a corner of the venue in a staggered cluster. It was easy to forget it was 8:15 pm, and not 2 in the morning.
My view looked down onto a dance floor buzzing with over 600 Jews and Jewesses. The event was Jewish dating app JCrush’s fourth event in the last three months.
Sonya Kreizman, CEO of the app, was fierce as fire in a vintage looking, weathered dark red leather skirt paired with white high top converses. But she is as friendly as someone who might make their own maple syrup, with bright, warm eyes and a smile that can soften even the most cynical soul.
“We encourage people to go out, if you have five matches in a week we want people to go out on at least one date by the end of the week or else people end up talking forever,” said the 29-year-old entrepreneur.
Kreizman who started out at Jspace after graduating from Fordham in 2008, was digging for fun and struck gold. Jspace was created in the vision of a Jewish Facebook, and so followed JCrush as Tinder’s Jewish counterpart.
“We started it as a fun project just to see where it would go and within two weeks it went viral and the app crashed,” said Kreizman. “People called us JCrash," she joked.
But now two years after the app launched, Kriezman and her partner and co-founder of the app, Natasha Nova, are having the last laugh. JCrush, which was the first Jewish dating app to come out on the scene, has over 150,000 users on JCrush with a strong presence in New York, London, Paris and Australia.
And then there are all of their spin-off apps, including one specifically for Latinos called MiCrush, African Americans called UrbanCrush, LGBTQ called OneGoodCrush, and divorced individuals called 2ndCrush. I kid you not, apps for dog owners and vegans are in the works.
“When I saw Tinder and how easy the user experience is I thought ‘Wow, let’s do something like that for Jspace users because they were our target demographic,’” said Nova. “I was curious to see how it would be adapted to the Jewish community.” Pretty smashingly it seems.
Kreizman added, “We thought ‘Let’s do a Jewish Tinder, find a Jew near you. We thought it was never going to work.” Good one ladies!
Though the app’s main objective is to create couples, Kreizman says she was never drawn to setting people up per se, “I’ve never been a matchmaker, I’m not a typical Jewish yenta,” laughed Kreizman. “But now I’ve gotten so good at it that when my friends show me guys on dating apps, I know what to look for and what not to look for.”
The app is free and also offers features that users have to pay for, but they seem worth the dough. Unlike any other dating app out there, JCrushers can send gifs, songs and or even send a date location via google maps to the object of their affection as opposed to simply swiping right or sending a message after being coy for eleven years.
If someone is feeling extra bold they can click the “Say Shalom” feature, which sets up a private message right away. Yasher koach.
In a surprise twist, many of the people who showed up to the event are not JCrush users. Kreizman explained that a lot of people want an opportunity to meet the kind of person who would use an app like JCrush but are not comfortable meeting online.
“It just made me realize how important it is not to just have an online app but to also provide an offline experience, because some people aren’t comfortable using dating apps,” Kreizman said. The CO said that about fifty percent of the guests who were inside the club are not JCrush users, but many decide to join after going to an event.
Kreizman makes an interesting point: In the midst of all of this manic, media, mayhem, young folk are starting to crave the days of yore, when a fella or a gal (hey it’s 2015 people), would just walk up to a person and start a conversation. “You can get so overwhelmed and you just want to go back to how it used to be, ‘Can I buy you a drink? Yes please.’’’ Yes, please, indeed.
But the app seems to be the first step to getting out there, even if only as a platform to create offline experiences. At their last event, they handed out eight decks of cards and when two people matched up, they could redeem them for two free drinks as a duo.
And those first moments just may weave themselves into something real. “Our Instagram page features couples that get engaged and other success stories. At the end of the day it makes me happy because we made an app and it works,” said Kreizman.
“It’s an app to help people find love," Kriezman said with practicality, "because at the end of the day that’s all we’re looking for.”
JCrush’s next event will be on September 24 at 1 Oak.