Getting Involved in Munches and Novice Gateways
Summary: Attending munches and novice gateways are an important means for the new Kinkster to socialize and learn about the social BDSM scene. It is critical for new kinkster to learn how to get involved and act appropriately at these social occasions.
Introduction and Personal Story: Greetings, I am Kinky-Teddy Bear! As a Dominant, I have been involved in Kink privately for about 20 years. However, that was all private play with almost no interaction with other kinksters except Internet chat rooms and websites. Believe me there is a lot more to Kink than you will ever learn online. For all of those years, I was basically a Dom in the wild, not knowing a lot of things about Kink that I should have. In 2013, I started to explore FetLife and decided that it was time to actually meet other kinksters if I was to grow and develop as a real kinkster. That summer, I started to attend munches in the Northern Virginia area and made many friends. In October 2013, I met my girlfriend and submissive and introduced her to the munch scene. In April 2014, after starting a new job in Arlington, VA, I realized that there were no munches near my work site, so I decided to start one. I am the founder and host of the Arlington Daytime Munch and my girlfriend and I have made many new friends at this munch.
What is a Munch?: According to the FetLife BDSM Glossary, a munch is a meeting of a group of kinksters at a “vanilla” place such as a club or restaurant, usually for discussion, not play. So the primary function of a munch is social, as in getting to know your fellow kinksters. Let’s face it, most people have reasons to be discreet about their involvement in Kink because of reasons dealing family, work, faith, social status, etc. So the munch serves as a forum for kinksters to get together and learn about each other and the local BDSM scene. Now one thing to keep in mind is the famous phrase “Your Kink is not necessarily my Kink, but I’ll respect you for it.” That means that there are many forms of Kink and beliefs about it like politics or religions. Mature kinksters may not like to engage in some forms of Kink but they politely tolerate and respect their fellow kinksters as long as they are acting within the norms of safe, sane, and consensual.
How to find a munch?: If you go to Fetlife.com, just click on the events page. I would recommend clicking on the tab for Friends RSVP To, to see which ones your FetLife friends in the area are going. If that doesn’t work, try the Near Me tab. Another resource worth try is http://findamunch.com/ for finding munches worldwide. Yes, there are kinksters almost everywhere.
How to act at a munch?: Remember, a munch is not a play event. However, if you are friendly, polite, and present yourself with a decent amount of social graces, you will normally find yourself with more invitations to parties. BBQs, play events, and other social events then you will normally ever get. At least that has been my experience. Please keep these tips in mind:
- Remember, you are in a vanilla setting. Please keep the Kinky toys somewhere else. If you need to show someone something, show it at your car or somewhere away from the restaurant. If you want to show something on your smart-phone or tablet, look around to make sure that the small children and vanillas cannot see it too. Do not try to convert the staff. They are there to do a job. Make sure to treat them with respect and tip appropriately. Your actions will reflect on your host and may affect the location of the next munch.
- Do not bring children under 18 since munch attendees often discuss very adult topics. If you are bringing someone with you, make sure that they understand the nature of the munch so they will not freak out at the first mention of a Kinky topic.
- Dress like you would for a vanilla social occasion. Do not wear fetish clothing. You do not want to bring unwanted attention to yourself from the vanillas. For myself, I usually dress business casual to fit in almost anywhere.
- Remember, the host(s) usually have to reserve a table for the occasion to accommodate the number of people who say they are attending. If they keep coming up short in numbers, the restaurant or venue may stop taking the reservations. It is simple manners to tell the host if you can’t make it. You can usually do it quickly on FetLife.
Being Nervous: Being nervous at your first munch is normal. I admit I was, especially since I was afraid of being outed as a kinkster. Remember, everybody is there to make friends, even some want to be more than friends. However, you should not try to use the munches as an occasion to hook up right away. You should concentrate your efforts about learning your potential friends first. Learn about how they got into kink, their preferences, their relationships, good places to go, good events to attend for a particular kink/fetish, etc. Another thing that you should know is that most munches are usually set in a private or semi-private room in a restaurant or at a table, hopefully away from the vanillas. That way, kinksters can discuss topics freely. Usually after a munch, people will friend each other and start chatting on FetLife if they click.
What is a Novice Gateway?: Many BDSM organizations such as the Black Rose of Washington, DC, have events called gateways. They have designed gateway events to be a welcoming, non-threatening way for people to learn more about BDSM and about the local BDSM community. As such, they make it their goal to make the meetings as comfortable as possible for you. They understand for some people, knowing what to expect goes a long way towards easing fears. Usually such events are held at a hotel or other public place, and sometimes a munch follows, so the same rules apply.
Additional Specialized Gateways such as Dungeon 101: In addition to the novice gateway, some organizations like the Black Rose present a specialized gateway called Dungeon 101. This type of gateway serves as an introduction to BDSM play. If you have never attended a BDSM play event, it can be a bit daunting. Dungeon 101 type classes are specifically designed to help you feel comfortable as you learn about BDSM. Often, they will be held at a local BDSM club and they will discuss proper protocols and safety when attending play events.