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"Our ears are a very sensitive place," Holdengräber said, "and lectures give our crowd not only something to listen to, but something to discuss all evening long. I say but of course it is." "Intellidating," first coined in England in 2002, sprang from "Intelligence Squared," a live discussion series launched by a couple of British moguls whose professed aim was to make debating "sexy." Heated debates on topics ranging from "Monogamy Is Bad for the Soul" to "Maggie Thatcher Saved Britain" brought in the London glitterati, including actor Hugh Grant and, until their split in February, svelte girlfriend and socialite Jemima Khan.
The concept leapt across the pond to New York last year with the American version of Intelligence Squared -- IQ2US -- launched by philanthropist and businessman Robert Rosenkranz.
It's a chance to impress a mate, or a potential date, by flexing a body part that has lost ground in recent years to biceps and pecs -- the brain.
"Let's face it, there really is nothing more sensual than caressing someone's mind," said Paul Holdengräber, who launched the library's live lecture series that is now a staple of New York's "intellidating" scene.
Francisco Fagen and his girlfriend, Elena Testi, spend time together at a New York Public Library event in midtown Manhattan.
The library's live lecture series is a staple of New York's "intellidating" scene.
"We've both been going to bars and clubs less because events like these are more provocative," said Paul Torres, an MTV producer holding hands with his girlfriend of eight months, IT manager Amy Stemmler, also 30. But at least we're getting inside each other's heads." In New York and other northeastern urban centers, including Washington and Boston, gray matter is the new black of the hip social scene.
It is now 41 and falling, driven down partly by a new crop of cutting-edge guests including underground cartoonists Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb and director Jonathan Demme.
NEW YORK -- The hot spot du jour of Manhattan nightlife looms large over Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, where crowds of stylish Yo Cos -- young cosmopolitans -- were jostling inside one evening last week for the right to pay the cover.
Rather than crossing the velvet ropes for a rave, house party or disco, the hip patrons here were packing into a controversial lecture at the New York Public Library on the modern meaning of feminism.
Housed inside the Asia Society building on the Upper East Side, the popular events have lured a following including conservative pundit Monica Crowley and her boyfriend, the venture capitalist Bill Siegel.
In New York, even spelling bee nights have popped up as a romantic twist for the chic, unmarried and grammatically gifted.