An Introduction to Munch Etiquette
As a munch organizer, newbies often ask me what the munch etiquette is at munches: Tips on how to mix up and introduce yourself to others, and also, where to go from there. After all, attending your first munch may be a big step, but what happens after that? What benefits does the munch bring to a scene novice?
I sometimes hear people saying that they feel disappointed after the munch, that it leads nowhere. Well, let me tell you, the munch will take you wherever you want to go, within reason, and providing that you put your social skills to work, and you don´t attend expecting miracles. One common *miracle* expected is that you meet your perfect partner there, preferably at your first munch.
A munch is no different from any other vanilla social do: prospective friends, play partners, romance, are not going to fall on your lap just like that, but of course, there is a chance. I prefer to think of the munch as a way to start building your own social circle within the kinky scene. Knowing people, making friends, is a sure way to meet even more people, and who knows… It´s the way I´ve seen things happening over the years. It may take more than one munch to start meeting your kind of crowd. You may also make friends among people you´d never have thought possible before, which is cool too, people from different backgrounds. After all, there is no archetypal munch goer: We all come from very different social backgrounds, and I see this as a big bonus.
Some shy newbies may perceive munches as clicquey. At the London munch, we make an effort at being welcoming and taking care of nervous novices, but of course, different people expect different customer service. We do greet newbies and we try and break the ice. We also introduce them to others, when requested or suggested. We do not, however, push anybody into a group. I think that after a polite introduction, adult people can fend for themselves. Of course, newbies coming through the door sometimes escape our welcoming net: If this is the case, don´t be shy to come to us and ask to be introduced to others if you feel daunted or if you need to have your queries/doubts answered email LondonMunch@hotmail.co.uk We can’t provide a PA service for every newbie, but we are here to help.
As for the munch tending to get divided into groups, and groups being (apparently, by definition), clicquey, let´s remember that people tend to arrange themselves in groups at all social occasions. This doesn´t mean that the groups are impregnable secret societies. If you make the effort to approach others, you´ll be surprised at how happy to meet they will be. The scene is, after all, small, and you never know when you are going to met a new play partner, or new friends with whom you share interests other than kink. However, we can´t make ourselves responsible for everybody, nor can we guarantee that every single individual will be warmly welcoming. Again, you can ask us for guidance there, and we will direct you to veteran munchers that we know and trust.
So these are my tips for your early days at munches: Expect anything, as opposed to *something* specific; mix up with people, don´t be shy; if they are members of your favourite sex, don´t behave as if you were in a club at 4 am: there is nothing more off-putting on an early evening than kamikaze sexual behaviour; don´t feel disappointed if you didn´t meet your perfect crowd the first time, come to more munches, the influx of new faces every month is probably bigger than any other social event you are likely to attend. And remember that the munch is a safe environment: we don´t tolerate harassing or threatening behaviour, and we take it very seriously. We want the munches to be friendly and fun. The BDSM scene is friendly and non-threatening in general, but nobody can answer for the behaviour of individuals.
So, where do you, as a newbie, go from munches? Well, some people like to go clubbing and play in public. You could find info about different clubs and events; maybe people you meet will like to take you to one. Others prefer a quieter, more intimate scene: fairs and daytime events. IRC channels and chatrooms are another good way to keep in touch with fellow munchers. And of course, this, your website.