Some of the Americans wear sharp suits and talk loudly about their property empires; others are from small towns in the Midwest and have acquired passports specially to make the trip.Most of the men are divorced and in their fifties or sixties.They then have a week to go on dates with the women they encounter at the socials, meet up with those they have met online previously, and perhaps end their tour with a proposal.
Divorced and disenchanted at 29, Chris has made the journey half way round the world to Ukraine in search of a strange combination of these lost "family values" – and sex.
"A friend came on one of these trips and said it was like Disneyland for anyone with a penis," he says. "We arrive at the nightclub and leave the warm spring sunshine for its dingy interior.
Habitually, they are joined by another young woman, the translator, who facilitates the dialogue."She says she likes a strong man who knows his mind." "Tell her I love the idea of two cultures coming together in a relationship." "She says she thinks you could be her soulmate."Hundreds of dating agencies operate in Odessa, luring the foreign dollar into the laidback Black Sea port city with a suggestion of the nubile young model living a life so impoverished that she will be ready to fly away with the first slack-skinned foreign pensioner who offers her a way out.
Other cities in Ukraine, and other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, also have well-developed bride industries, but Odessa is a global hub for men looking for love.
Most of the "ladies" do not speak English, and thus the men will require the services of the red-shirted translators who will also be present at the social, he tells us.