The other day, I had a bit of a realisation. A lot of the beginners/newbies information was pretty much in abundance when I joined the kink scene, but is slowly getting lost amongst the noise.
So. I’m starting a series of ‘Back to Basics’ blog posts which are largely aimed at newcomers.
In the coming weeks and months I’ll be covering assorted topics to add to the resource pool.
I’m writing based on my own experiences and largely weighted on my own opinions.
One of my opinions is to consider multiple sources for your information.
Now, also, there isn’t really one right way to do anything, but certainly lots of wrong ways.
My first topic…
So, you maybe are new to fetlife, or other similar network, have stumbled upon the worlds of kinky twitter or kinky tumblr – it may be you’ve actually already been to a fetish club or engaged in some form of play – or it might not.
Any you hear mentions and recommendations of munches.
Here is a fairly simple overview…
WHAT IS A MUNCH?
It’s a social meet up, usually a gateway for newbies who’ll meet up with a mixture of other people, some of which are also new – some of which are not.
Many people go to munches for assorted reasons such as to meet up with friends or plan for kink events or share and enrich their knowledge.
IS A MUNCH FOR ME?
I frequently will say that munches are not for everyone.
Certainly I know people who know far far far more about the lifestyle than I do who don’t bother with munches. I know people who have amazing kinky relationships who don’t come to munches. I know people who go to events, but not munches. Or see (or are) Pro-Dommes and don’t do munches.
They’re neither a pre-requisite nor a necessity.
If you :
– wish to know more about BDSM lifestyles
– want to make friends in the BDSM lifestyle
– are considering going to a fetish club and want to at least know some faces before getting there
Then these are good reasons to go to a munch
If you :
– want a quick hook-up
– have no interest in the lifestyle but want to gawp at the “weirdos”
– are expecting to see women in skimpy outfits without paying an enterance fee
Then a munch isn’t really for you.
Among anything else… most people there are in casual clothes and conversations may be about kink but can be about anything from football to music to politics.
And while I have known people turn up for their first munch and meet a partner, it’s not really their purpose.
Think of it like… you might go to your local pub for a beer, you might get talking to someone you end up dating, but the pubs purpose is for socialising and selling beer.
If however, you are looking for a kinky partner, then attitude permitting I could suggest a munch as means of improving your own knowledge of kink etc.
SO WHAT HAPPENS AT A MUNCH
People, some of which are friends, go into the location and meet up and socialise.
Sometimes there are new people and they are generally welcomed.
WHEN/WHERE ARE MUNCHES
Check your local area listings. Most regions have at least one a month. Some have many.
They’re usually in a pub. One where a large group of people in one area wouldn’t look out of place.
It’s usually somewhere fairly public for a few reasons (coming up) but some do have private rooms or venues.
Usually the venues would serve food, effectively a chat over lunch, but not all do.
PUBLIC? I MIGHT BE SEEN.
Yes. And that’s something to consider.
Though part of the point is for it to be in an open setting to be accessible to many and also so it doesn’t look out of the ordinary.
A bunch of people in a corner of the room are a bunch of friends.
A bunch of people in a private area does make the odd person wonder what is going on.
(And the odd person daft enough to tell them)
One of the advantages also is that if you are nervous (there’s a section on that coming up) you can sit away from the munch until you feel comfortable enough to join it when you see people there aren’t monsters.
Having ran munches in private rooms, they do have the advantages that you know everyone there is for the munch and can be less cautious over who can hear your conversation.
But, if it’s in a venue where you may bump into friends or family, I’d recommend choosing another munch.
MY AREA HAS MANY MUNCHES – WHICH SHOULD I GO TO?
I’m old enough to remember when the region I live in had just one munch per month. Now, numbers fluctuate but it’s certainly double figures.
Some people might not need to think too hard, there’ll be a munch on the day they can make in a location they can get to and microfactors don’t bother them.
Some might find the choice a little anxious – so, some tips.
– Have a look on the event to see how many people are down as ‘attending’
This will give you a good idea if it’s likely to be a busy munch or a quiet munch.
A quiet munch will usually give you more chance to talk to pretty much everyone or fewer people longer. Busier munches it might be easier to float around. Busy does not necessarily mean “good” and quiet does not necessarily mean “bad”
– Do a little research into the organisers, read their profiles and view their activity. Do they seem like the sort of person you would feel happy approaching for help or if you had a problem? Now, this is meant as no sleight against anyone, some people might be drawn towards one person, someone else another.
– Does the idea of a public or private venue appeal to you more?
– Are you likely to be seen by friends not on the scene and are you confident enough to deflect them away from the munch? If there’s a risk here to yourself or others then pick another munch. Sometimes the one closest to you isn’t necessarily the best (a bunch of people I went to school with drink in the bar of my most local munch, so I don’t go – among anything else it could be awkward if they want a catch up and introduced to my other friends…)
– or of course, are there other people you’ve seen post whom seem cool going to the munch? Then you’ve at least got an icebreaker (“I saw you post about x the other day and I like your viewpoint”)
OK – THERE ARE LOTS OF MUNCHES, HOW MANY SHOULD I GO TO?
Depends on your individual circumstances.
Bus fares, a bit lunch and a few pints can sharp add up.
Ditto for the time.
I think being new and enjoying your first munch can have excitement to go to as many as possible.
Two things to consider.
If you made some friends, you could consider munches they also go to in order to continue to build your friendships
tying in with what I said about enriching and view points you can try to meet different people.
Overall, this isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon, go at your own pace.
I’M A BIT NERVOUS, CAN I BRING A FRIEND?
Not really, unless they’re also curious about the kink lifestyle.
OK… CAN I ASK ON FETLIFE ABOUT PEOPLE TO MEET UP WITH BEFOREHAND TO GET TO KNOW AND THEN GO TO THE MUNCH TOGETHER?
You can ask, but, the amount of people who use this to try and coerce one-to-one “dates”
Or of course, don’t show – and leave the person, having arranged to help someone, stood up. So, there’s a fairly poor response rate.
A recommendation would be to arrive early/promptly to meet the organiser or other newbies before the munch gets too busy.
Alternatively, if you want someone to chat to about the munch, PM the organiser(s).
OK – SO… I’M GOING… HOW SHOULD I DRESS?
In terms of dress. It’s casual, it’s usually a pub. Dress pretty much like you always would in the pub.
Remember of course, the aim is not to draw attention to the group.
Collars are usually fine if you wear one within a dynamic… but maybe leave off the handcuffs, dildo gag, or the t-shirt that tells everyone you’re into kink.
Unless, of course, event descriptions specifically mention changes to that.
WHEN I GET THERE, HOW WILL I KNOW WHO IS THERE FOR THE MUNCH?
A good munch description should give some indication of where in the venue it’ll be held.
Some munches have a mascot. Some don’t.
A good tip is to familiarise with what the munch organisers look like, they’d be a good point of first contact.
They’ll usually have an idea who is or isn’t part of the munch.
RIGHT, I’VE FOUND THE MUNCH. I’VE SAID HELLO TO THE ORGANISER AND WANT TO GO TALK TO PEOPLE… UMM… WHAT DO I DO?
I think you can’t go far wrong with finding an empty seat or someone who looks free and being “Hello, my name is (fet name or real name), how do you do? This is my first munch”
General common sense applies and although most people are usually open and welcoming, please don’t be offended if they don’t wish to chat *at that point*
I’M A BIT ANXIOUS, EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE SAT IN GROUPS AND THEY ALL KNOW EACH OTHER.
It can seem that way. But, they also know what a munch is like. They’ll be half expecting a nervy looking newbie to come and say ‘Hi’ so it won’t really take them by surprise. Just introduce yourself politely, as above. I mean, sometimes it’s possible they are locked in conversation or have something pressing to discuss – so in that case, look over to the next table. There’s always someone free. If in total doubt, speak to the organiser and ask if they can introduce you to somebody.
THAT PERSON APPEARS TO BE A DOMINANT/SUB DO I HAVE TO ADDRESS THEM A CERTAIN WAY?
I’ll talk about protocol at another point. But (a) munches are informal/social, protocol generally out of the window (b) appearances can be deceptive. (c) They’re not YOUR Dominant/sub. There’s no establised dynamic.
ANYTHING I SHOULD/SHOULDN’T TALK/ASK ABOUT?
Conversation can flow any which way.
Remember to be polite when asking questions of someone you don’t know – and equally, it’s OK to be somewhat reserved in your own answers – you have only just met the person.
In ways, yes, it’s kinky people : so you can ask questions you might not normally be able to ask in a pub, but, still be cautious if it’s potentially questions around their sex life. Some people are more forthcoming than others, especially with someone they just met!
But otherwise, if you were in any other bar and got talking to someone, there’s levels of questions you wouldn’t ask and it’s about the same here.
EEK – THERE’S SOMEONE HERE I KNOW FROM MY VANILLA LIFE, WHAT DO I DO?
Remember, they’re here for the same reason as you – and it’ll probably feel awkward for both of you at first. But, remember that : they’re here for the same reason as you. The fact you didn’t know about this side of them suggests they’re good with discretion.
I REALLY LIKE THIS PERSON I’M TALKING TO, DO I JUST ADD THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
And, it is far more likely that an ‘add’ will be forthcoming on sites like Fetlife, rather than Facebook. But, it depends. If you send requests after the munch, do send them a message reminding them who you are and asking if a friend request is OK.
OK, I’M ENJOYING MYSELF. TALKED TO SOME COOL PEOPLE, SWAPPED USER IDs, ANYTHING I SHOULD BE WARY OF OR DO NOW?
I’m sure by now you’ve realised everyone is not the same and possibly learned that lots of people have lots of different dynamics.
If you haven’t learned that yet, then that is something to consider. Just because one person does things one way, doesn’t mean someone elses entirely different way isn’t valid.
Particularly if you’re new it’s possibly better to observe than judge.
Mind. If you do see or hear anything that does concern you, speak to your munch organiser.
On the day is best for a resolution, but, I know this isn’t always easy. A PM after the effect is better than nothing.
One thing to watch out for is drinking. Now, there are mixed views on drinking at munches – some people feel people shouldn’t drink at all – some are like “it’s a pub for fucks sake, get pissed!”
Mind. Speaking as someone who has had to deal with people who’ve had too much to drink at a munch. Be responsible.
Yes, it is a pub – have a drink, have many. Just, be sensible.
Another thing to be cautious of, telephones, photos, social media. It’s not OK to take photos in a munch because that’s a photo that shows somebody was there. Also, updating your facebook, checking in, tagging others also should be avoided. Among anything else – if you ‘check in’ to somewhere, then a friend of yours in the area might pop in : and that can get awkward.
Also, be aware of who is in hearing distance. This includes other customers and the bar staff, some topics aren’t appropriate.
SO I HIT OFF WITH SOMEONE – AND THEY’VE INVITED ME TO THEIRS, AFTER THE MUNCH, TO SHOW ME SOME PLAY. SHOULD I?
OK. You’re an adult. But, here’s the thing.
You’ve both been drinking. Consent is skewed. If you’re new and inexperienced would you be able to tell if things are safe?
No one is going to physically stop you, but my recommendation would be to thank them for the offer, tell them you’d like to take them up on it: but when you’re both sober.
It’s very easy to get over excited especially if things are going well.
You can then also take the time to chat with each other after the munch and it’ll be a lot easier to discuss consent, wants and boundaries – topics I’ll come onto another time.
OK, SO. I HAD A GREAT TIME AT THE MUNCH, MET COOL PEOPLE. ADDED A FEW PEOPLE WITH THEIR CONSENT… ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW/DO BEFORE THE NEXT MUNCH?
OK a mop up of scenarios.
Some people will have given you real names, some fet names. Never use real names on fetlife or other social networks.
Some are more private than others with kink life, you probably shouldn’t really rave about munches with vanilla friends but if for whatever reason a conversation does come up, never name or reveal anyone who was at the munch.
Really, discretion should be respected so ideally this shouldn’t be discussed at all.
You may bump into someone from the fet scene in the street or somewhere public outside kink. Remember the people they’re with might not be on the kink scene. Saying “Hello” is usually fine – but – “Hello, [fetname], are you going to the hardcore BDSM party next week” isn’t appropriate in front of their friends/kids/etc.