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A Beginners' Guide to Munches

This article was written specifically for the British BDSM community. But while some of the particular information doesn't apply outside the UK, a lot of it is relevant to the scene in other countries -- the U.S. being one.

My limited experience in the U.S. is that locating socials in public bars is atypical. I'd personally advise against it.

I found this article on the now defunct Informed Consent website at http://www.informedconsent.co.uk/.

There is also a Munch HOWTO which explains how to run a munch yourself.

A beginners' guide to munches
By Stu <stu@playroom.org.uk>

This document may be copied only in it's entirety, including this header and the e-mail address at the bottom. It must not be edited or altered in any way. If you have comments/suggestions, please let me know by e-mail, and I will endeavour to make corrections if necessary. If you do copy it for your own site, how about letting me know... I'd like to know if I'm being useful :)

This is an article I wrote the day after I went to my first munch. I've been to two now, and planning on many more. This is an edit, with inspiration taken from follow-ups to the original, and also experience I've had in the past few weeks. Edits appear in square brackets.

--- Now... read on... ---

I was hoping to write this yesterday, but by the time I got home, I had the most stinking hangover, from a mixture of alcohol, nerves, and a bumpy bus ride home. [You'll find a roughly equal mix of drinkers and non-drinkers. Almost all newbies will be drinking!]

I am writing this having just been to my first munch (Nottingham), and thought I'd write a short guide to those who are scared to go, nervous about what to do, or just plain cynical. If there's a vote of confidence, I'll keep this list up to date with newbies questions, and experiences, and maybe make it availble on http:. It doesn't really come under the category of FAQ, since the questions are not asked; they're just worried about, maybe putting the person off coming.

First of all, let me thank the organisers; Rub-ian and Grant. They picked a great venue - very relaxed, large open area to spread around in, good food, unfortunately expensive beer (we're coming to that), and plenty of tables some of which the venue staff nicked off us, but we nicked them back as the group continued to grow! [Again, at the Manchester munch, there was a large area, good food, good weather - we were outdoors, but there was plenty of space indoors too.]

I fell into the category of nervous. Not really scared, but there were a couple of moments on the journey there where I almost bottled it. In fact, I arrived in Nottingham shortly after the munch's start time, but still took about a half hour detour into a shop to chat to the shopkeeper I know. I then turned up to the venue, I felt welcome within three seconds, and comfortable within about an hour. [Yep. You can spot the newbies arriving. Pull up in the car... sit for a couple of minutes... take a deep breath... go for it!]

I'd like to thank eveyone I met there individually, but since there were 30 new names to learn, I have only remembered some of them. This would be unfair on those I forgot; so a great big thankyou goes to everyone present.


[As you go to more, you'll obviously get better with the names, and familiar faces]

So... here's the beginners guide:

1: How will I recognise the group?

In my case easy! There was mention of party-poppers and balloons, so I headed for the [occupant of the] seat with a big red balloon attached. Had I not been quite so nervous, and looked a little harder, I would have spotted that one member of the group was collared, one was cuffed, [neither too blatantly], there was also a drawing of a bridled head on the table.

[Manchester: I arrived before any group had got together, so had a quick scout around the pub. Nothing obvious. There were a few people, each sat individually, but I didn't approach them. By the time some faces turned up that I knew, there was a group gathering, and again it was pretty obvious to others where we were.]

2: How should I introduce myself?

Hmmm.. tricky... This was my main pre-occupation on the bus on the way there. However, when I got there, I saw the balloon, but no party poppers, so when I approached who turned out to be Rub-ian, I said 'Have you got any party poppers to go with that balloon'. 'Hello' she said. Aha! I thought, they do know what I'm on about! [If you're sure it's the right group: "Hello! I'm new!" (you are allowed to be shaking at the time!).]

3: What is expected of me?

Not being too socially adept myself, this was another worry. However, if you think about it there are many people around like you. I'd say the one thing that is expected is that you adopt a suitable level of politeness for a group of people you've never met. If you find yourself in an embarrased silence there are two questions to break the ice:

a) Have you come far?
Don't forget that some people will travel hundreds of miles for a munch. Maybe they had an eventful journey? Maybe they did battle with the local one-way system?
b) Are you on IRC?
I think I was asked this about 6.4 million times during the munch. (I'm not!)

4: Will the perverts try to molest me?

Maybe. But only if you ask them to :)

It's odd, but I'd seen this written a few times, and always thought it was quite amusing; but it seems it may be true. No, seriously you may get propositioned, but it's entirely up to you to whether you accept or not. There's a lot of mutual respect going on; there has to be.

[Be aware what you're letting yourself in for if you do go for anything]

5: Will I spot such an advance?

My experience with Vanilla girls has been one of tentative hints and clues given over a period of weeks, neither quite knowing what the other is thinking/wanting etc. With the open channels of communication required in a BDSM relationship; you're more likely to participate in the following:

  • Hi, what's your orientation.
  • Erm... sub.
  • Would you like to be tied up?
  • Ok.

This is obviously simplified, but it really is   like that. It's then possible to go onto discussing limits and the like quite happily.

[Maybe it's more fun with the not knowing etc. Although I've been waiting for ages for a reply from a bloomin' girl now, so I'm not sure!]

6: What do they talk about?

What is talked about at munches? Well; at Nottingham, the conversations I got involved in included:

a) Bastard one-way systems and parking.
b) BDSM.
c) AOL.
d) News, IRC, Computers in general.
e) Mickey Mouse costumes.
f) Various local scenes (Manchester, Stoke, London).
g) Long hair on blokes.
h) Lots of other things after I'd drunk too much.

Don't worry, you can't really shock anyone with whatever you say; you're more likely to get a 'Mmmmm... must try that' response! Some of the discussion is very frank. Especially with a one-way system like Nottingham has :) No, seriously you'll feel you can tell anyone anything; and get all that stuff you can't tell your mum/s.o./mates off your chest.

[Manchester was a good one for Religion and Politics. Not a good choice, but nothing got too heated! Also astrophysics or something, which went over the heads of many of the supposed participants.]

[6a: Who do they talk about?

This question was posed by a follow-up, but I really don't know how to answer it. Nobody in particular, I think is the answer. Maybe someone else can come up with a better answer?]

7: What about the lurkers who come to watch the perverts?

Well, at Nottingham if they were there, I saw no evidence of the fact. Most of the MGPs [members of the general public] were happily eating their potato wedges and didn't bat an eyelid - maybe they half-batted one. I reckon anyone who lurks on the group long enough to go to a munch probably would like to join in but doesn't know how to approach.

[Manchester had a lot of cars driving past and blowing their horns :) It was hard to tell whether they were tooting at us or not. Still, no harm done if they were. If they were, and they're reading this, maybe they could come to the next munch and join in. It's not that scarey!]

8: What if I get really nervous, and therefore drink too much beer?

Then you'll have a stinking hangover for the rest of the afternoon, and feel like sh*t the next day. You'll also have an empty wallet; especially if the beer is very expensive. D'oh!

[Apparantly I had expensive taste, and the beer wasn't that expensive after all.]

9: Will I meet dirty old men?

Yes, and they're just as much fun as the dirty young men! ..and the dirty young ladies, and the dirty old ladies! Hey, we all grow older; why should we stop practising our kink?

10: Are all munches the same?

No; I can only go by my experience, but hopefully I'll be able to maintain this tataq [to afraid to ask questions] and update it from information from other newbies.

[Yeah. They seem pretty similar. Numbers vary, of course.]

11: Will I come away happy?

No. You'll come away frustrated that you can't get going on all the things you discussed! Ok, you'll be happy as well.

[Yes. Definitely worth going.]

[12: How do I find out about munches?

The topic will nearly always be raised on the newsgroup (uk.people.bdsm) and will usually contain details there and then. Some people prefer to deter potential lurkers, and give an e-mail address to contact for details. There's no catch involved here, they're just a bit more nervous about getting undesirable munchers. - Hey, hold on... we're ALL undesirable!! :) ]


Additional Resources on EvilMonk.org

  • If you don't live in the United Kingdom and would like to attend a nearby munch, visit my "Find Groups" list of resources. If there's no group nearby, I suggest starting your own. It's doable.
  • I have some helpful articles on starting your own group -- including a link to another Informed Consent article -- in my "Civics" section.