It’s true, if you’re interested in checking out in-person BDSM communities, a great place to start is by attending a munch. These events are low-pressure meet-and-greets that are often welcoming to newcomers and geared towards introducing people to the community. At a munch, there are no kink-related expectations – they’re considered “vanilla” events. The purpose of a munch is to casually socialize and meet new people; I think of them as being like kinkster-only ice cream socials! Whichever way you look at it, munches are perfect for giving you a feel for the flavor of your local BDSM scene and the people in it.
So, what is a munch exactly?
In BDSM and kink communities, a munch is a social gathering that’s usually held in a public place like a restaurant. The term “munch” comes from the fact that people usually eat, or “munch,” at these events. Most munches are recurring, often held bi-weekly or monthly. They’re typically hosted and organized by an individual, a team of volunteers, or a BDSM/Leather community organization.
Munches are often held in a back room, banquet area, or cordoned-off section of a dining area. Seating is not assigned, and attendees are free to move around and socialize much like they would at a wedding reception or company party. You may choose a seat as your “home base” where you can leave your jacket and order food, but otherwise, people usually mingle and get to know each other.
At some munches, an organizer may lead group announcements, introduce an icebreaker prompt, or schedule a short talk about an educational or community-related topic. However, this isn’t always the case – some munches are simply casual networking events with no specific programming or group activity. Regardless of the specifics, a munch is a social event where like-minded people can connect in a low-pressure, non-sexual environment. They’re also ideal entry points for newcomers eager to learn more about BDSM and their local community.
What’s the difference between a munch and a slosh?
A slosh is similar to a munch, but it is typically held at a bar and focuses more on social drinking than eating. The term “slosh” is becoming less common. Many people refer to a bar event as a “munch” because it’s a more widely recognized term. Also worth noting – while drinking is discouraged at many community play events for safety and consent reasons, it’s common at munches and sloshes because play is not allowed.
Are online munches a thing?
Yes! The pandemic has changed the way the kink community operates in some ways. Many in-person events from conventions to play parties moved online for the better part of two years. Virtual social spaces for kinksters, like Discord, became a lifeline.
While most in-person BDSM events have resumed, virtual and hybrid options have remained popular, this includes munches. This is wonderful for those with barriers preventing them from accessing on-premise events due to things like disability, financial limitations, transportation issues, childcare responsibilities, time constraints, etc. Online munches foster inclusivity by allowing more people to connect with their local community (and beyond!) and to feel like an integral part of it.
If you belong to Discord or private kink-related Facebook groups, you may discover that they host a group-specific online munch. These events are usually held on Zoom and can vary in format. Some are more social, while others may feature guest educators or speakers, discussion prompts, or breakout rooms giving attendees the chance to mingle with everyone in attendance.
What types of people go to munches?
Anyone interested in or involved with the BDSM community! You’ll find all kinds of people at munches, from seasoned kinksters to those who are just beginning their kink journey. While the flavor of each event is unique, generally munches tend to be very welcoming.
Is a munch a pick-up or dating event?
Nope! Munches are a place to meet like-minded people and learn more about the community, their purpose isn’t for meeting play partners. Munches aren’t BDSM speed dating events! And if you do happen to encounter someone at a munch that missed that memo, don’t be afraid to speak up or tell an organizer about their inappropriate behavior.
As a BDSM educator, I often advise new kinky explorers to make friends before finding play partners. Building platonic connections and friendships with other kinksters can be incredibly valuable for both novices and experienced individuals who are new to a particular community. Why?
These friendships can provide a support network you can turn to for advice and gut-checks when navigating unfamiliar territory – especially important when that territory involves power dynamics, physical intimacy, and risky situations. Your kinkster friends may also be familiar with unspoken community dynamics and red flags that newcomers may not be aware of. In terms of exploration, education, and personal growth, these friendships can also introduce you to different perspectives, experiences, and lessons learned the hard way (so you don’t have to learn them the hard way too).
How else can munches help with safety?
At a munch, you may be able to connect with people who can help you vet potential play partners from your local community. Vetting a partner means gathering information about them before playing to ensure that they are who they claim, are trustworthy, well-regarded in the community, and have interests that are compatible with yours. One common way to do this is by asking for personal references from the person you’re considering playing with. However, people often reach out to others to inquire about their potential partners too. At munches, you may have the opportunity to connect with past play partners or other people who can provide you with a reference. Just be sure to ask for consent to speak with them about that person at a future time, rather than springing a potentially sensitive conversation on a munch-goer who may be unprepared.