Wednesday, March 5, 2014

¿What to expect at kinky happy-hours?

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Mother Teresa

Happy-hours, socials or munches constitute great settings to meet people face to face for the first time. These events are held at public places and, more often than not, in vanilla venues. This has several advantages: Meeting at a public place makes the first interaction less stressful and safer. Similar to common on-line dating advice, never meet someone for the first time in private. Munches don't have a strict schedule, so it’s perfectly fine to arrive or leave at any time. You also have less uncertainty as to what to expect and how to behave in such environment; if you are going to a public, vanilla venue you can expect (and should abide to) common social norms. For some groups, attending to a happy hour or munch is a requirement prior to attending any other event.

If you read the post getting your feet wet and you contacted people on social networks, the happy hour will be great place to meet with them, follow up with whatever questions you had and continue any conversation you had on-line. This is a great time to talk and learn about kink and the community in general; you can expect many conversations to revolve around those topics. People are very friendly at munches, specially with newcomers and this should be no surprise; those of us who have been attending to a group’s happy hour for a while are used to see new faces from time to time. In fact we were a new face once so, we know what it feels to be the new one. We all try to make people feel comfortable and welcome. Actually, if you don’t feel a group is actively trying to make you feel part of it and being inclusive, then it might be an indication that that group is either: private or run and attended by inexperienced people and, therefore, probably not the best place to start.

Even when these kinky meet-ups are held at public, vanilla venues and are subjected to standard social norms there are a few differences, stemming from our lifestyle, that are worth pointing out: Because of privacy concerns, some people may not be willing to share personal information that, in other context, they normally would. Some examples are their real name or their job. They also would be less prone to befriend you on mainstream social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. It is fine to ask them about all this stuff but you should not feel offended if they are not willing to share that information with you. Also, if you have some concerns about sharing that information with people at the munch feel free to decline providing it; people who know how the dynamics work in our groups will understand. The only exception to this rule would be event organizers who may require to see your ID to accept you to a party or conference because organizers need to make sure you are of legal age.

¿Why all that secrecy? Well, whether we like it or not, our lifestyle is not boradly accepted everywhere and some people may be wary about letting their family, friends and co-workers know their kinky interests. They try to mitigate a potential ousting by keeping their real identities private. (There will be a future post on this soon, keep tuned). Because of this craving for privacy, it’s common in our community that people have two or more names such as: their scene name, which is the name they go by when at kinky events; their FetLife (or any other website) name, which is the name you can find them in social networks and their real name. You may never learn what is the real name of some of the members of the community, that’s for granted. You too, feel free to pick names for your real-life and on-line kink persona of you feel like it.

Other general guidelines for your first much are:
Be friendly, and expect people to be friendly as well; if they are not it’s their fault not yours. Be open minded, you are there because you have some interests in kink which may or may not be appealing to some people in the group, conversely, some people in the group may have interests you won’t find appealing or that would even squeak you. Don’t judge and don't let anyone judge you, mature members will understand your preferences even if they don't share them. Don’t hug or touch other people. You may see that some members hug and touch each other; more than likely they are friends already and won't welcome a stranger joining in out of the blue. At the same time, if you don’t feel comfortable being hugged or touched let people know. It’s perfectly fine to say “no” and the members of the group should respect that.  If you want to bring a friend or a partner that’s great, but make sure they know where are you bringing them. It is not fun nor respectful to have them learn where you brought them once they are at the happy-hour. Even though the event would be completely vanilla and attendants would be abiding to standard accepted behavior; conversations will, more than likely, be about sexuality and kink. That is probably one of the most distinctive activities in our happy hours. We are kinky and, therefore, we talk about kink so, if you bring someone, they will know what our groups is about almost immediately.  Ask about the dress code, normally casual or business casual is fine but, if you want to make sure you won’t be either, over-dressed or under-dressed feel free to ask the members of the group what people normally wear.
Happy hours are a lot of fun and a great way to start getting in touch with your local community. Just take basic safety measures when you decide to plunge into them and be open to new experiences, new people and new perspectives. ¡Welcome to this new stage of your exploration on kink!