GUEST POST: 8 Tips For Running A Munch

GUEST POST: 8 Tips For Running A Munch

If all is going well today, I’m in Santa Cruz. My partner will be mountain biking today, and I will be wandering about and exploring, really digging deep into vacationing.

O Miss Pearl takes the reins today.

8 Tips For Running A Munch

Hey there! With Nookie away on a much-needed vacation, she’s given a bunch of us an opportunity to write a guest post to help keep up that regular schedule you all like. You might know me from my femdom blog (https://omisspearl.com), or on Fetlife as @Miss_Pearl, but the topic I picked is one I am super experienced with! I ran a munch in Montreal for people aged 18-35 for many years, and I wanted to share some things I learned along the way.

1) Get one or more co-hosts, preferably of other genders and/or identities as you.

First of all, you are human, so even just part time volunteers will help with things like if you are running late and need someone to greet people on time, or if you have to miss on of your own events due to some calamity. Additionally, if co-hosts help you want to attract a diverse group of attendees. Gentlemen in particular often feel shy to start stuff as just them, fearing it will be seen as creepy rather than community minded. Other organizers may worry a single host is a single perspective, and want the support, or the value that signals regarding inclusion.

Don’t forget! Even when things are off and running, make sure to repeatedly put out a call for volunteers and pull trusted regulars into helping. The bigger and better things get, the more people should be helping just from a pure logistics perspective.

2) Try to hold your event at the same place/same time, on a regular schedule.

The less you change about where and when the event is, the easier it is to develop regular attendees. People are creatures of habit and will also have an easier time fitting things into their busy lives. Additionally other kink events are less likely to clash with yours when they have a rough idea of when to expect you to organize stuff. This will also give you a great excuse to talk to other event runners, when you might need to make a schedule adjustment.

For getting people to show up, advertise well, and in advance, even putting up events a few months ahead. You may know that Fetlife has an events section, but did you know that you can post things on sites like MeetUp too? If you are daring, you can even do a Facebook event, though not everyone wants to run things through something with so little anonymity. Lastly, your local geography probably has its own kink-niche for internet, particularly for non-English speakers, and you can hit up relevant groups on fetlife based on your geography. If none of the traditional ways work for you, remember, there’s always an internet mailing lists for giving people updates!

3) Be an active host, not a passive one.

Sticky name labels people can put whatever name they like, circulating around to talk to the shy and new, making introductions and ice breaker questions are all easy ways to keep things humming along. Particularly in the first hour, small talk pays big dividends in building community, and modeling how to treat each other and what to expect. And it’s ok to be a total dork, everyone will give you the benefit of the doubt just for hosting.

As hostess, I would regularly remind people of the rules, via checking if everyone was having fun and gently reminding them to tip the staff of our venue well. I would also help folks find nearby places to grab a snack, and just generally position myself as there to help and interested in them.

I used to make a game of it as people showed up, introducing each person to everyone and then seeing how many names I could recite from the group. My own openness about being bad with names covered for a lot of other people.

4) Consider the benefits of a week night time slot, a day event or a theme.

I flag this under its own heading, because when you hold the event also changes the flavour of it. In my case, I stubbornly kept a Thursday evening for my munch. Not only were there more free semi-private venues to hold it, but the younger crowd tended to have a more flexible work schedule than five days of 9 to 5. Intentionally playing to the needs of your demographic is a positive way to screen for the folks that your event is built for. Lastly, as I oft repeated, I wanted to attract the folks who had rich lives outside of kink and might not be able to sacrifice premium weekend time. It also had the added bonus of not competing with any play parties!

Themed events also give a secondary reason to show up. Simple, voluntary costume stuff like for Halloween, an option for support for a compatible charity, inviting local kink creators to promo their stuff for one event, etc… all give more conversation starters.

In my case, I also held a twice annual May/December event, letting folks bring a guest or guests who were older than my event’s age cut off. This exception let people connect to the larger community, while keeping to the overall purpose of why I organized things to be exclusive the other 10 months of the year.

5) Venue matters, as does seating.

It’s been my broader experience that the best venues are ones that give you tools to remove the uninvited, and have an area you can slightly screen off to fight the shyness of the guests. If you are still in the planning stage, universities, bars, libraries, community centres and so forth are all typical low-cost options, in addition to the traditional restaurant that gave munches their name. Venue owners actually don’t tend to care why a group of adults show up, as long as you are all respectful to the rules of the space.

Parks and similar usually don’t take reservations (though ymmv as far as picnic areas) and are usually even more accessible to everyone. They tend to be more covid friendly (when it is warm enough to be outside!), but bear in mind you won’t be as able to shoo curious strangers who want to gawk.

What matters as much as the where is the how people are seated, and a good munch is a mixer. Literally something that facilitates moving around and swapping tables/seats regularly maximizes both not getting stuck next to the tedious or creepy, and getting to meet all the people.

6) Develop support for noobs.

You are going to very quickly realize that munches form a first point of contact for many people exploring kink in real life. Hoo boy, are there a lot of stupid questions, or worse, assumptions! A lot of groups stagnate because this constant influx of people being confidently wrong can breed hostility- so as part of your group culture, plan for the clueless.

In that line, collate together some good resources to pass along to the metaphorical kink babies, whether it be books like “The New Topping Book” and “The New Bottoming Book”; websites (eg Nookie’s own Dating Kinky!); or other events and workshops that might help them find their feet. Even the now ancient Novices and Newbies group on fetlife can help you the 100th time you need to explain that not all subs are masochists, or whatever.

7) Set and maintain boundaries about who can attend and how to behave.

Rules matter. You will head off so many problems by both maintaining certain expectations of conduct (eg, no public play or no photos) or criteria for guests (eg, no TERFs, ages 18-35 only). This is because awful humans are seldom a risk only in one axis of misconduct. Thus, the tantrum they throw over not being allowed to attend or do as they please is a giant red flag more serious safety rules will also get push back.
Don’t be afraid to exclude someone because there aren’t events for them yet. My experience enforcing age limits is not one but two different events sprung up covering groups of folks who wanted that, but for them. It was wonderful!

8) Get ready to be willing to wrangle pretty dark interpersonal issues.

This one was the hardest part of running a successful munch. Over time, you will become aware of problem humans. Often these are missing stairs, people who the community knows to be hazards, but haven’t been able to deal with collectively and just assume people will avoid. Sometimes you are lucky and its easier, eg stalkers you can quickly flag as unwelcome, or people to whom the time you are told about it they have multiple accusers. The hardest category to deal with are the whisper network warnings.

It’s not fun, in fact it can be deeply traumatic to even deal with, but sooner or later you will bump into something serious that didn’t happen at your event. And, often it won’t be neatly clear cut- like getting a tip from someone being a friend of the alleged victim, who prefers to remain anonymous. It can also one of those worst nightmare break downs where two or more parties have credible accusations flung at each other.

Use your best judgement. You are only human. It’s also ok to set limits on how much you can deal with things- and put aside time and resources to care for yourself. Just remember, you cannot include everyone. Those you choose to allow, by their presence and past conduct, may effectively exclude others. Bans suck, but a polite request not to come is not an execution, and if you make the wrong call, your person will find other places to be.

Be respectful of everyone’s privacy, and when someone given you an account of something that happened, verify who you may tell/share this with, both the other volunteers and other people this might effect the safety of. Do give people who give you ghastly warnings about a problem a realistic expectation about what you can and cannot do.

And, talk to the other event runners. You will start giving each other tips about people they banned, and this resilience also will give you someone to talk to when you just got a DM about someone’s deeply traumatic experience that means that now one of your volunteers and friends has to be banned from orbit.

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What are your thoughts?

Have you ever run a munch or a kink event/venue?

What surprised you about the challenges that came up? What are your best tips and tricks for making a kinky munch or slosh or gathering successful?

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