More than 250 freshmen crammed into Silliman dining hall on Friday night for a dizzying round of speed dating. Organized by the Freshman Class Council in anticipation of Freshman Screw on Feb. 5, the event gave students a chance to find true love — or at least some new acquaintances — through 25 two-minute encounters.

Chaos reigned at the start, as attendance surpassed expectations and surplus females wandered helplessly in search of partners. Yet the hopeful daters persisted: no matter the crowd, no matter the faulty sound system, they perched awkwardly on chairs squeezed at the end of full tables and launched into conversation with the strangers in front of them. Every two minutes, as FCC members screamed “SWITCH,” women would move down one seat to a new partner, and the elaborate dating game commenced anew.

“I think I’m going deaf, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Emily Miller ’14, speaking over the buzz of rapid conversation. “If for no other reason, it’s fun to meet new people, even if I don’t end up marrying any one of them.”

The dining hall lights were dimmed, and small plastic candles littered the tables. Scraps of paper and cut-out hearts were generously sprinkled on tabletops, printed with suggestions for partners at a loss for things to say: “Where on campus would I be likely to find you?” one paper read. Another: “Give me your most flirtatious look.”

FCC member Josh Ackerman ’14 said the event exceeded expectations and was “the perfect precursor for Screw.” While the FCC only sold half its tickets in advance, so many students showed up last minute that about 50 were turned away, FCC member Debby Abramov ’14 said.

“It’s been awesome,” attendee Lauren Bilow ’14 enthused. “I’ve met lots of eligible bachelors, including my former screw date, whose name I didn’t know until tonight.”

Other students reported meeting some quirky characters, such as a male who identified himself as a pirate.

“He made me say ‘Aaargh’ four or five times, because I wasn’t putting enough oomph into it,” a confused Sue Li ’14 said. “Then he made me squint one eye. This was a horrific two minutes of the night.”

Participants were asked to record the names of their partners on a note card and indicate their top three picks among those they met. FCC members collected the cards and will inform couples who each selected each other as a good match, Abramov said.

Tickets were $2 and the money raised will go toward other freshman events.

Correction: January 17, 2011

A previous version of this post misreported the date of Freshman Screw. It is on Feb. 5.