In the 30 Days of D/s meme, I wrote a little about communities and why I find them important. In this post, I want to expand on that, give some info on how to find your own local community and the pros and cons of online versus real life.
What Events Exist
Common events include munches, parties, and educational. Conventions are also popular but require more significant time and financial investment. If you’re new to the scene, I suggest starting with a munch. Munches are when folks get together at a restaurant and the emphasis is based on socialization. The Submissive Guide has a great article about what a munch is and what to expect. Parties can be more intimidating and harder to socialize at. Some areas require you to come to a munch first before they’ll share their party location! This is for the safety of everyone involved.
Different education groups exist all over the place. There are international ones (like MAsT) and local ones run just in that city or region of the state. These groups may also require you to come to a munch first to get to know you but it’s worth doing. Access to education is so important, especially if you’re wanting to learn how to do more risky play.
I’m going to explore BDSM conventions more in-depth later and don’t really recommend brand new folks to jump straight into a con. However, there are plenty of them out there that range from only classes to completely play focused and you may thrive in the rush of a weekend event.
Time to Search
The Internet is a wonderful thing and the most common and reliable way of finding events to go through is through different websites.
FetLife is one of the most popular social websites for BDSM folk. Until very recently, Fet was the only online profile that I used. The website can be full of people that you should just block and ignore, but there are also many useful groups. Many of my favorite groups are full of information that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Fet is also the center of my real-life communities. Every event I’ve ever attended has been posted on FetLife. If you’re in a smaller town, events may not come up for you at all so plug in the nearest big city and see what happens. Traveling for events isn’t always ideal but if you want that face to face connection, give it a try.
I’ve recently learned of a website called FindAMunch.com which links to both United States and international groups. A quick look through my own state shows both active and inactive links so it may take some digging to find active links and active groups. Many of the links do lead back to FetLife. The events page, however, is very up to date and lists lots of conventions and weekend events.
Another website is LeatherList.org, a nonprofit out of Seattle, WA. They focus on “providing free, updated resources” including a massive directory. You can find everything from events to MAsT chapters, sex-positive centers and businesses. They are still growing and adding new listings all the time.
Facebook, believe it or not, has many thriving BDSM groups. They’ve recently adjusted their group settings so there are now public groups and private groups. Anyone can join a public group while a private group requires permission to join. Some groups are also set to “hidden” so you must be invited by someone who is in that group. Facebook has a handy article here that explains all of this in more detail.
If you do join a Facebook group, check out the linked article so you fully understand how the privacy settings work. Some groups show member lists. Creating an alternate Facebook profile is an option but be sure to read Facebook’s rules so your profile doesn’t get deleted!
Online vs Real Life
Plenty of folks have opinions about online BDSM communities versus real-life BDSM communities. I’ve been involved in both over the years and personally prefer real-life meetings. Going to a munch, a party, or a class is very different than sitting at your keyboard and trying to figure out someone’s online tone. I’ve learned a lot more about BDSM, Leather, and power exchange through attending events and meeting people in person than I ever have online.
However, online groups are great in their own ways too. As someone with fluctuating health issues, I don’t have to leave my house or worry about accessibility issues with a Facebook group in the same way I do with a party or munch. I can talk to a wider range of people too since online groups generally aren’t limited by region. I’ve been able to meet and learn from more kinds of people than I’d be able to if I only attended my local events.
Just like real-life groups, online groups can be full of drama and misinformation. Search for groups that are moderated well and kept on track. If something doesn’t seem right to you, question it.
Are you involved in your local community? Why or why not?
How did you find your local community?
Are there other ways than what I have listed here?
Thanks to Kinky & Nerdy for their Kinktober 2019 Bingo Prompt!