A BDSM munch is an informal gathering of people with an interest in BDSM so that they can eat and socialize. Munches are most frequently held at public dining venues such as diners or restaurants.
Munches tend to be social events, not educational events. Munches tend to be informal affairs with relatively little structure or protocol. Most munches are publicized primarily online, and the Internet figures prominently in their history and development.
How do I find a munch?
Who can attend?
Normally anyone can attend a munch that is not specifically blacklisted from a group or location. Many munches do not have a screening process, but some do.
No play at a munch
Most munches do not normally include play because the idea of a munch is to have a space where people can freely socialize and so that new people can specifically attend without firstly needing to be vetted and secondly, having a fear that some sort of play is to occur or that they must participate in anything other than casual conversation with others. As such, leave your toys and other fetish gear outside. This is a social event, not a place to conduct a scene.
Consider your typical, casual attire to be appropriate. Discreet collars and some black is generally accepted, but a high degree of fetish wear (leather harnesses, ball gags, etc.) at a non-fetish establishment can sometimes cause social problems and even a loss of the ability to host a munch at that particular establishment.
General Munch Etiquette
Protocols will vary from munch to munch, but this is a great starter template for most any munch you are likely to attend:
- Respect the confidentiality of the event. Do not ever compromise someone's anonymity regarding kink (aka "Out someone") or take pictures of people at a munch.
- Jargon can be a barrier to first time attendees of a munch. Understand the terms listed on the BDSM 101 page at a minimum, consider knowing the terms on the BDSM Theory page to be able to speak more knowledgeably.
- Because of confidentiality of the event, do not request probing information about someone's personal details such as where they work, where they live, what their real name is, etc. as that can give a bad impression. It is fine if they volunteer these things, but it's generally not a good idea to probe for this information.
- Treat people as people. Perhaps many enjoy objectification and to be thought of as a sex object, but they will require that you build trust and friendship before you can ever approach those sorts of relationship dynamics with them. At a munch, be friendly and respectful to others.
- Be courteous and respectful to your waitstaff, and be sure to tip well. If you don't, you may not be invited to host another event at that establishment.
- Be very wary of consent violations. Do not touch another person without asking. Best practices indicate to ask before touching someone and ask if a worn necklace is a collar or not and what its significance may be as these are typical potential pitfalls. If someone violates your consent, be sure to tell them. If someone violates your consent, consider sharing this with the munch coordinator.
- Exchanging personal information. Be sure not to divulge highly personal details about yourself right away, such as your real name, address, phone number, and other information. Consider using an online handle or profile name to exchange information to start communicating with others to protect yourself.
- Red Flags and Politics. Not everyone is going to be giving you the best advice or have an established reputation. If you aren't sure about someone, give it some time and they will begin to show more of themselves to you. Not every report about someone having a bad or good reputation is accurate. Some people may have alternate agendas you may not perceive. Let time help you figure these things out.
- Swarming and Chopped Liver. New members of a munch may experience swarming where they receive lots of attention from many people all at once which can be overwhelming, if you think this might be a risk for you, consider attending with a friend. Some new people may also be entirely ignored. Be sure that if you are overwhelmed with attention you state so and set boundaries, and if no one seems to greet you, try the CIQ method to open up a dialog with others.
- Secret Codes. Some munches may have codes aside from typical collars, such as hanki and key codes. Ask your munch coordinator if they use various codes to indicate certain things at the munch.
- Be on time whenever possible. Munches usually have a set start and end time. Being early or late by more than fifteen minutes not only sends a bad message about your timing to others, but also can be inconvenient for the hosting establishment.
How to host your own munch
If you have searched in your area through the resources section and on other areas of the internet and have found that there is no munches available in your area, consider starting your own!
To do so you will need to consider several logistics:
- Consider a venue for your munch. Munches should be publicly accessible whenever possible. Low cost restaurants with a large room area that can be sectioned off are great, as are coffee shops for smaller munches, all being well lit and safe places with not too much noise. Consider that most munches start small and can grow much larger, sometimes very quickly. Call ahead and ask if you can host a party of individuals for a local meet up group to the establishment and book a time at least two weeks in advance. This will give you enough time to promote your munch to attract attendees. Set a location, time to meet, and frequency. Most munches are run monthly or bi-weekly.
- Set up a code of ethics similar to the munch etiquette listed above. Be sure to reign in the conversations if the attendees start to loudly discuss topics that are highly sexual or kinky so as not to disturb other patrons or the establishment staff and owners.
- Establish secret codes in advance. A typical code might be to refer to the group as "computer club" or "hiking club" to the establishment staff as well as to others that might inquire about the group so as not to divulge information and respect confidentiality of other attendees.
- Publicize the event consider using various internet channels to promote your event.
- If your group is successful consider starting an online group or forum to support it, give it a name and consider creating other events for your group.