I’m not an expert (hey, it’s my tag line!) but I’ve learned a few things in hosting Montreal’s 18-35 Munch and attending some.
It’s better to hold it in a public place than a private home, and bars or open spaces are better than restaurants. The ideal space encourages mingling so you’re not stuck talking to the same people. Ideally even couches are better than tables. You want people to be able to move in and out of groups comfortably, to escape people they don’t want to talk to but also so they don’t shut everyone else.
Bars often have a group space you can reserve. Sometimes this is a back room or a balcony. There is often no charge because your event brings a lot of a patrons who will turn around and buy a drink or two.
If you’re not into bars, or you have people under the local drinking age, the next place to look is your local sexual health centre and similar open minded community centre places.
Naming & Advertising
Naming your munch something innocuous may sound cheesy, but it makes it easier than making newbies have to ask “Is this the PERVERTS CLUB!?”
Post ads for your munch on places like fetlife. In the ad, clearly set out the address of the place, what people should wear or bring, and some guidelines for what’s involved. A friendly reminder to buy a drink, even a Shirley Temple, cannot go amiss.
A sample ad:
It’s that time of again! Come down to [Venue] for our 14th [City Name] Monthly Meet and Greet. Please bring your smiles and a willingness to have a good time to the reserved room at the back. Can’t find us? Ask the bar tender for the [Quirky Abbreviation].
[Start & Finish Time]
[Venue website & address]
Dress Code: Plain clothes (collars okay!)
Cost: Please tip the waiter!
The sooner you can post your munch the sooner people can fit it into their schedules. I run the event on Thursday and encourage it to be more of a drop-in-after-work thing, but you should pick a day that feels right for you.
Keep in mind most people who RVSP will flake, so don’t feel if it is a failure if only half the group shows up.
Have a contact email or PM system where you can be reached. Fetlife’s ‘events’ let people list themselves as coming or thinking of coming. There’s also things like meetup.com or your country’s fetish websites. At the actual event try to arrive early. Silly hats or bright shirts help people pick you out -so you can use that to help people find you. Ideally multiple hosts with different genders are good. It spreads the work out and helps people feel they can communicate.
It’s a good idea to play an active hosting role, which means to watch for new people and greet them as they come in. Offer to introduce them. If people seem to being wallflowers, wander over and say hi. Some people need a while to warm up: different people have different levels of social comfort so the shy person may just need five minutes to warm up.
Be promotional to other people’s efforts unless their idea is truly stupid or harmful. For example if someone else does a play party when you talk to people at your munch you can bring it up… but obviously truly stupid ideas like say, and open invite, non-consent themed play party in some strange guy’s basement.
Keep an ear out for problems. You will hopefully not have a predator show up, but you may have to ask someone to leave if they make it unpleasant for the other people. That’s the other advantage to reserving a venues party area.
Drama, cliques and that person with the odious personality who makes everyone uncomfortable and never show up, venues that prove unreliable and a bunch of other things will happen.
A lot of fighting is over territory. Once things get started, people may get cranky either because you feel like that since you put the effort in you own something, or because once a good thing gets going everyone wants to help. As the organizer you’ll get a lot of people dictating how things could be bigger, better, and so forth. Thank them for their input and enthusiasm- many of them don’t mean it to be critical, and it’s not worth challenging people who are cranky. Let the bitter people be bitter.
There’s no solution for cliques but open circulation venues cut down on the closed circle look. Taking the time to talk to everyone and make introductions based on (if you know them) non-kinky interests helps. Get people to talk about their hobbies, fan memberships… all the non-controversial stuff that makes people build friendships.
On the other hand, as the host, try to stay out of the petty stuff. For example if two events start a competition for members, avoid picking sides because there’s generally little substance other than big egos and hot air.
And of course there’s the creepers and the trailing chaos. You probably won’t ever need to involve the cops, but as the host, be ready to pony up and ask people to leave. If say, someone is being stalked or bothered, be ready to involve police if the situation requires it. DO NOT treat the kink scene like a private world outside the law. It’s less embarrassing to have say, someone’s crazed ex-wife escorted away then the venue calling the cops after she clings to her ex’s leg and attempts suicide.
And be ready to tell a lot of people stuff that feels very basic, like BDSM safety or things that should be common sense like that subs don’t have to obey everyone who calls themselves a dom or that not everyone is a secret leather master from an ancient European house.
All this talk of trouble has probably scared you away, but take heart! most evenings will just be a great night out with new people and old friends.