This is a guest post by Naamaire.
You may have seen announcements on the Sex Positive St Louis events calendar or BDSM-themed sites that “The South City Whip Club” or some such organization is having a munch at a particular place at a particular time. Maybe you live in the South City area and you’d kind of like to meet some people who like whips. You know where and when they are meeting, but what the hell’s a “munch”? It sounds a little bit scary.
It isn’t. A munch is nothing more than an informal meeting in a restaurant, and for people who want to meet BDSM-minded folks in their local area, munches are a great way to start. Eating dinner gives you something to do with your hands, and you can always use “what’s good on the menu?” as an icebreaker.
While there is no “official” rules for munches, there are some basic guidelines that apply to them by their nature.
First, before you go, make sure it’s an “open” munch, which means just what it says– a munch that is open to anyone who wants to come by. Usually the announcement will say so, but it never hurts to send an e-mail to the sponsoring organization introducing yourself and saying that you would like to go.
Since munches are one way that organizations attract new members, you’ll mostly get a “please do!” reply. And then you’ll have at least one person who will be keeping an eye out for you and save you a place to sit.
Next, know what kind of place it is and dress accordingly. Dress code at munches tends to be street wear– this is a public place and even if the munch is in a private room you’ll be passing through the rest of the restaurant to get there. Depending on the venue, you may see collars and some mild fetish wear, but it’s best to go in vanilla drag the first time.
It is not always easy to find a restaurant that will host a munch on a regular basis, so do your part to see that the group is welcomed back. Not everyone eats, but it’s polite to order something and tip well. Behavior should be kept on the non-scandalous side, and while conversations frequently range from the odd to the downright bizarre, scrupulous use of one’s indoor voice is appreciated. The folks at the next table might just not want to hear about your adventures with fisting.
Be aware that the rest of the crowd has probably been eating (and playing) together for a long time. Munches are more like family dinners than any sort of structured activity. You’ll hear a lot of in-jokes and nicknames. You are most likely going to feel like an outsider the first time. But everyone was an outsider once, and kinky folks in groups tend to be very friendly and welcoming. Really.
Going to a munch for the very first time can be scary. For many of us, it was our first tentative step on wobbly legs to go from having secret fantasies to acting on them. So it’s okay to be nervous. Odds are very good that someone will come up and talk to you, because everyone in the room was once sitting in that same spot, staring blankly at the menu and trying to look like you’re not eavesdropping on the couple next to you talking about their matching genital piercings.
Munches are not intended to be meat markets, but the sad fact is that some people do use them for that. You may have someone come up to you and hit on you– particularly if you happen to be a submissive female. The regulars usually know who the pick-up artists are and try to minimize the damage they do. But if you find yourself cornered by someone that you don’t want to talk to, it is perfectly acceptable to say, “Nice talking to you, but I’d like to mingle and talk to more people” and do just that.
When you’re just coming out into the scene there is huge desire to focus on potential partners. The people who are complementary to your role/gender combination will most likely seem the most interesting. But it’s a good idea to seek out other people who like you, because those are the ones who can teach you the most.
One last point– remember that you are there and you’re not a member of the South City Whip Club. (Yet.) So not everyone else there is necessarily a member, either. Just because you meet someone in a public place at a group sponsored event doesn’t mean that he or she is not a psycho. Use the same common sense safety rules that you use with people you meet on-line. Don’t give out personal information, don’t arrange a play date, and don’t put your life in the hands of someone you’ve just met.