A BDSM "munch" is a non-sexual gathering of people in a BDSM community. BDSM munches can be great venues for meeting and getting to know other kinksters in your area. You can chat openly, get advice from experienced mentors, and meet potential play partners in a neutral public setting.

However, unless your city has a bustling kink scene, you may find munches are hard to come by. This was the case when I first moved to Osaka in 2009. There were a handful of BDSM-themed bars, clubs, and events in the area, but these forums were fairly expensive to enter and intimidating for kinksters who were just getting their feet wet.

I didn't want to spend tons of cash and time in smoky Japanese bars just to connect with "my people." My kink-interested friends didn't either. So, I started organizing the city's only munch about two years ago. Since then, I've met and chatted with countless kinksters and watched them blossom with confidence while exploring their fetishes. It's been an incredibly fulfilling experience.

If you're interested in hosting your own munch, I've got some tips to help you learn from my successes and screw-ups.

Find the Right Venue

Many kinksters, regardless of their level of experience or interest in BDSM, don't feel comfortable heading to dungeons where they're likely to see strangers being beaten or having sex, or where they may be asked to play by someone they just met.

Munches take place in neutral, everyday settings. Your guests will have the chance to chat with other open-minded people without having to dive all the way into the deep end of the pool.

Find a public place like a bar or restaurant where you can comfortably host your munch. As conversation is the point of the event, you'll want to avoid anywhere too loud. However, it shouldn't be too quiet either, since your guests probably won't want to be overheard talking kink by people outside of the group.

I always hold our munch at my friend's downtown pizza bar and restaurant. He offers a menu that appeals to any type of guest, including vegetarian and vegan options.

He's also into kink and knows what our group is about, which is a huge plus. When new guests show up with that "I need to ask the staff where the kinky group is, but how the fuck do you ask that without being weird?" look on their faces, he and his staff direct them to our table. You can avoid that problem entirely, however, by making a reservation under your name (or a fake one) and letting people know when you advertise the event.

Consider a Themed Munch

The munch I host is open to anyone looking to participate. In my home city of San Francisco where the kink scene is well established, however, community organizers hold all kinds of munches throughout the month that cater to specific age groups, genders, sexualities, BDSM roles, fetishes and more.

Do you want to market your munch to the general public, or specifically to people interested in bondage, spanking, leather, polyamory, or something similar? Perhaps you'd like to market to the millennial crowd? (Practitioners 35 and under are sometimes referred to as "The Next Generation" in the kink scene. It can be hard for us to meet like minded BDSMers our age. NG munches are a great solution to this problem.)

As the host of your munch, you set the tone for the group. Think about who you'd like to connect with and market your event accordingly.

Decide How Often to Hold Your Munch

You'll have an easier time attracting members and building your community if your munch is a regular thing. I hold mine once a month and that seems to work for our busy little crowd. Your group may want to meet more regularly if everyone's getting along and having a good time.

Hosting requires time and effort. Figure out how much you can dedicate without getting bogged down. Remember, munches should be fun and relaxing for you too!

Market Your Munch

In order to attract guests to your munch, you'll need to get the word out that it exists! How do you advertise an event related to a topic that's considered taboo or even offensive to some?

Rather than handing out flyers at your neighborhood garage sale, I recommend using the almighty internet. You can post your event on Fetlife, findamunch.com, or a similar site. Fetlife is probably your best bet since it's basically the Facebook of the BDSM realm.

Set a Neutral Dress Code

We kinky types like to dress up, but a public non-kinky joint isn't the best place for your guests to show up in fetish garb. Your group won't be welcome again if the staff and/or vanilla peeps at your venue feel uncomfortable.

Let people know that street clothes are expected when you advertise the event. I failed to do this for my first few munches and once had a guest with a military role play fetish show up in Nazi gear. As you can imagine, this made the other munchers and people at the restaurant very uncomfortable. (I wasn't a fan either because uhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck Nazis, that's why.)

Give Some Basic Info about What a Munch Is

People who are new to BDSM might not know what munches are or why we have them. This is why it's important to provide a brief explanation when you advertise your event. You don’t want people coming and expecting an actual play party, or put off attending due to nervousness.

The important points to convey are these:

  • Playtime is not on the menu. It's just a chance for kinksters to meet and get to know each other.
  • Munches are held in neutral public spaces so everyone can feel safe and comfortable.
  • Munches are usually meant to be discreet so that people who aren't 'out' about their kinks can participate without fear of being exposed.

Be Present and Available to Help Newcomers

Some people get incredibly nervous when attending a munch for the first time, which is understandable. The BDSM world looks mysterious and intimidating from the outside, and meeting new people is scary in the first place.

When I post my events on Fetlife, I always make sure to let readers know they're welcome to message me and ask questions. First-timers often get in touch before the munch to express nervousness and I tell them they can sit next to me if it will help.

Tiny gestures like this can make a world of difference to your new members. Doms and subs alike can be shy and will benefit from your kindness. So, be lovely!

Look Out for Predators and Know How to Handle Them

While the vast majority of your guests will be awesome, you're bound to have a few bad apples trickle in from time to time. These are usually toxic dom-types who mistake BDSM as an excuse for abuse and are on the hunt for willing victims. They say things like, "I've always felt like women were made to kneel and serve me," and other similarly arrogant forms of word vomit.

Fear of being targeted by these people is a major reason curious kinksters stay away from the BDSM community. You do not want these assholes harassing you or your other guests. As the organizer of your munch, it's your duty to call the shots and do what you can to protect everyone who shows up.

Just like we do with our play partners, you'll have to define your boundaries in your mind and have a plan for how to handle it when they're pushed. If someone is making others uncomfortable due to inexperience or a misunderstanding, be willing to kindly pull them aside and speak to them about it. In the case that someone is intentionally behaving in creepy ways and you start getting complaints, you may have to kick the offender out or ask them not to come back. Too bad, so sad!

And don't let anyone give you shit about your attempts to ensure a welcoming environment. Your event, your rules! If you keep the creepsters away, the good and lovely munchers are more likely to return in the future and view you as a trustworthy ally.

If the Vibe Permits, Include a Few Kink-Related Discussions

While chatting about the weather at your munch is fine and dandy, it's nice at times to gear the group discussion toward the thing everyone there is into - BDSM! If your members seem comfortable with it and your venue of choice offers a bit of privacy, ask some kinky questions to get peeps chatting!

Be careful not to pick any topics that will put people on the spot, like specific questions about their fetishes or other personal information they might not want to share. Focus on general stuff like BDSM in pop culture, BDSM as a spiritual practice, the science of BDSM, or whatever you find interesting. You can learn a ton about yourself and kink from chatting with your munchy guests.

Walk the Walk

Whether you like it or not, your guests may view you as a mentor or role model if you're doing all the right things. So while you don't have to be perfect, try to set a great example with how you approach BDSM. Be a champion for enthusiastic consent and sex positivity. Always honor other people's boundaries and respectfully express your feelings when yours are being pushed. Understand the unique challenges doms and subs face and be ready to give great advice when your members run into difficulties.

If you don't practice what you preach, your guests won't be able to trust you and will stop attending your events, which would be a sad thing, indeed.

If you heed these tips, you and your guests are likely to have a great time at your munches. Here's to some excellent times with your fellow local kinksters!