Romancing the Armpit

The world’s first armpit sniffing date night - Alcoholic Architecture, London, May 2016

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Romancing the Armpit - Alcoholic Architecture, London, May 2016

Bompas & Parr presented the world’s first armpit sniffing date night, where shared olfactory stimulation became an unpredictable platform for the intimate exploration of our most infamous sweat glands. In contrast to conventional speed dating nights, our musky lotharios donned a paper bag to mask their faces, leaving potential lovers to sniff out their suitability to romance, maybe more.

We know that pheromones – the airborne compounds secreted in our sweat – play a role in sexual attraction. Our body odour is largely influenced by Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules, which are genetically determined and linked to the immune system. Experiments have shown that opposites attract; we tend to judge potential sexual partners as more attractive if their MHC composition is different from our own.

There were no rules on cleanliness and coiffure: all smell levels and hairstyles were fair game. Every participant smelled each other - using nosing cones - before grading their reactions on cards and the hosts at Bompas & Parr then linked up matching odorous pairs to see if the sparks would fly.

Pheromone dating of the past has given insight into your genetic compatibility. The advantage of Romancing the Armpit speed dating were added awkwardness, giving a telling insight into the guests' personality. Further, what’s the point in matching genetically with an armpit that belongs to an aesthetically intolerable face or nauseating character?

Guests were incouraged to choose highly perfumed pits, or go for minimal bathing and flourishing pheromones. Alongside scent, style should be considered. Plaited, permed, crimped or dyed, shaven, spikey, glittery and wild, please let your hairs express themselves openly.

Indeed, it is said that most monks bathed only four times a year; at Christmas, Easter, the end of June, and the end of September.

The evening’s cocktail were designed to get guests sweating, and the alcoholic cloud within the bar played homage to the first recorded alcohol-based perfume, formulated at the command of the Queen of Hungary. The exact date and who created it is debated. Some sources say that a monk-recluse who first gave it to Elisabeth, though most likely it was made by a court alchemist. The original recipe distilled rosemary with brandy.

Photography by Nathan Ceddia and Daniel Resende.