What’s a Munch in BDSM? Play Parties and What to Expect (Guide) | Kinky Hookup

What’s a Munch in BDSM? Play Parties and What to Expect (Guide)

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How Do I Get Invited and How Should I Behave?

If you’re new to kink-land, you might have heard about events called “munches” and “play parties.” You might be wondering if these are part of some special underground club, how you can get invited, and just what the hell you’re supposed to do once you’re there.

Well, the good news is that it’s much easier than it used to be! Back in the day, newbies could only get into kink events through knowing someone, or stumbling across one by mistake, or perhaps by answering a vaguely worded ad in the back of a newspaper. Today, with the internet at our disposal, all that has changed.

Read on to learn how to find out about kinky events, how to get invited, and how to behave when you’re there so you can be sure of being invited back.

So what’s a munch?

A munch is a social gathering for kinky people, typically held in a vanilla (non-kinky) location such as a pub, bar, coffee shop, or restaurant. Munches generally don’t involve any kind of play and are purely an opportunity for kinksters to meet likeminded people, make friends, and socialize in a friendly company.

Sometimes munches have a particular theme or are based around an activity. I’ve been to board game munches, craft munches, discussion munches, book club munches, and more. The town I used to live in even had a German-speaking munch for a while. There are also munches based around different demographics – Under the 30s/Under 35s is common (sometimes called The Next Generation or TNG.) Less common but still occasionally seen are 35+ or 40+ munches. Some will be queer-specific, women only, or otherwise restricted.

If you don’t see a specific theme or demographic advertised, chances are a munch will be a group of kinky people of various ages, genders, roles, and orientations, chatting and mingling over drinks or food.

What about a play party?

A play party is an event where kinky play happens. Play parties can be private (invite-only,) semi-private (people who are known to the scene or have been vouched for,) or public (anyone can buy a ticket and come along.) They are held in locations including dedicated BDSM spaces (sometimes called “dungeons,”) swingers’ clubs, private function rooms at pubs or clubs, and people’s homes.

Most play parties will have dedicated play spaces, which often have dungeon furniture or other equipment that attendees are allowed to use. They also typically have a chill-out zone, where people can mingle and socialize but play doesn’t happen. Some parties will also have a buffet or snack table, a bar, changing facilities with lockers, and even a pool or hot tub. The exact facilities depend on the venue. You’ll usually be able to find out a bit about the facilities before you go.

How do I find out about events in my area?

Fetlife is your friend! Fetlife is a social networking site for kinky people (“the Facebook of kink”) and there’s a tab under the “Events” section where you can search events within your area. You can also view the events your friends are attending, and at the moment – thanks to COVID-19 curtailing many events around the world – there’s even a section for virtual events.

You might also be able to find out about events through other kinky networking and dating sites, swinger sites like Fabswingers, and even certain subsections of vanilla social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But Fetlife has by far the most comprehensive event listings.

The other way to find out about events, particularly more private events, is to get to know people in your local scene. Start going to munches (these are generally publicly advertised and have a low barrier to entry,) and start making friends. As you become more known and trusted, people will start inviting you to their private events or being willing to vouch for you so you can get into events with stricter guestlists.

How do I get invited?

Munches are, generally, open invite. This either means that anyone can go (as long as they’re 18+ and kink-positive, of course!) or that anyone can go as long as they fit the other demographic requirements, such as being a certain gender or age. Most major cities and a lot of smaller towns have more than one munch (I lived in a city once that had about 10 at different times throughout the month!) so if one isn’t for your demographic or just doesn’t work for you, try a different one!

If you see a munch you’d like to go to, list yourself as “Going” on Fetlife. If you wish, you can also drop a private message to the organizers (you’ll find their profile link to the right-hand side of the event listing.) Tell them you’re new, that it’s your first munch, and that you’re feeling a little nervous. Some munches have a special meet-and-greet for newbies before the main event starts. Others have designated “greeters” who welcome new people and help them get acclimated. If nothing else, they’ll now know that you’re new and nervous and should hopefully be extra welcoming as a result.

Play parties are a little more complicated. Check the event listing to see what the invite situation is. Don’t even try to get invited to private parties until you know the people involved – you’ll come across as creepy or clueless. It’s best to start out attending public or, once you’ve built up a bit of a reputation and can get people to vouch for you, semi-private events.

If an event is open, just list yourself as “Going” and follow the instructions to buy a ticket. You may need to message the organizer to get on the guestlist or buy a ticket from an external site like Eventbrite. If an event is ticketed, don’t just show up without buying a ticket in advance – you most likely won’t be able to get in.

For play parties, I do recommend contacting the organizer before you go if you’re new. Just follow the message format I outlined above. People host events because they love their community and want to give back, and being welcoming to new people as they get acclimated is part of that.

A lot of party hosts will also show you around the venue the first time you attend and may provide you with a copy of the rules or any other information you need.

How much does it cost?

Munches are usually free to attend, and you’ll only need whatever money you want to spend on food or drink. Sometimes there will be a small cover charge to cover the cost of room hire, and activity-based munches might have a cost attached.

Play parties vary hugely in cost. An event at a club or other venue can cost anything from $10 to $50 per person. Private parties are often free, as the cost is borne by the host – in these instances, it’s polite to bring a bottle or a contribution to the snack table if you can. Other hosts will ask for a small contribution to cover their hosting and refreshment costs.

The Fetlife event listing should tell you the cost of an event. If in doubt, ask the organizer if there’s an entry fee or if you can bring anything to contribute to the party.

Are parties and munches a good place to find partners?

Yes… sort of.

Going to a munch or a play party with the express goal of finding a partner or someone to play with is a bad idea. Not only are you likely to be disappointed if the sub or Dom of your dreams doesn’t drop into your lap, it’s also really obvious when someone is only at an event to get laid. And kinksters don’t like it. Likewise, don’t go along and only talk to the people who are of the gender, age or role you’re interested in dating. Again: when people do this it’s super obvious, and generally frowned upon.

If you go to plenty of events, you’ll start building up a kinky circle of friends and getting invited to more parties. This is how you meet the kinds of people you might be interested in dating or playing with. It’s also how you build up a reputation as a good person, a safe player, and a generally upstanding member of the community.

So yes, if you’re kinky and wanting to date other kinky people, munches and play parties are great places to meet them. But don’t go in with the goal of finding a partner or someone to play with within a short space of time. Kinky dating through event attendance is a long game, and you’ll have more fun if you enjoy getting involved in your community for its own sake rather than just as a means to an end.

What do I wear?

Unless specified otherwise, assume a munch has a vanilla dress code. In other words, wear what you’d normally wear to that venue. Leave the leather harness and lingerie at home. Slightly more risque but still safe-for-public outfits (think corsetry) might be appropriate in certain circumstances – like the munch in a rock pub I used to go to. If in doubt, dress totally vanilla. This includes not wearing collars or other obvious BDSM symbolism.

Not everyone at the munch will be out about their proclivities and some won’t want to be identified as being part of a kinky group in public. We all have a responsibility to each others’ privacy and that means not turning up at the local Starbucks in a PVC catsuit brandishing a whip.

Play parties’ dress codes vary but you’ll usually be expected to at least make an effort at dressing up. Check the listing and if in doubt, ask the host. Some events allow things like genital nudity and nipples on display, others don’t. Some have very specific dress codes – I go to one event where the men have to wear full suits!

For general play parties without a specific dress-code, things like clubwear, corsetry, gothic outfits, lingerie, suits, PVC, latex, leather, catsuits, and smart all-black outfits are likely to be appropriate.

Don’t forget you can always dress up or down as the night progresses! I often go to play parties with a change of outfit or two in my bag.

How should I behave? What are the rules?

Each party and event will have its own rules around exactly what kind of activity is and isn’t allowed and what the expected behavior is. The Fetlife event listing or group may list the rules, or you can ask the organizer to send you a copy.

In general, assume you should always follow these rules:

  • Do not touch anybody without consent. This includes any kink play or sexual touching but also includes things like hugs and even casual physical contact. Not everyone likes to be touched.
  • Speak to everyone respectfully and as an equal, regardless of role. A Dom or sub is not your Dom or sub unless you’ve agreed to enter a dynamic.
  • Do not touch anyone’s things without permission. Some people have strong attachments to toys or kink gear and don’t want others to touch them.
  • Never interrupt a scene in progress. A scene includes set up and aftercare. If you see something that concerns you, speak to the host or a dungeon monitor (DM.) They may have information or context that you’re not aware of.
  • Don’t play or have sex in the chill-out area.
  • Notify a DM if you’re going to do any play that is likely to be very loud, messy, or might be concerning to an onlooker who wasn’t aware of the context (e.g. consensual non-consent.)
  • Tidy up after yourself.
  • If you ask someone to do something and they say no, accept it gracefully.

Can I go on my own?

Usually yes, with some exceptions.

It’s almost always going to be okay to go to a munch by yourself. If you’re nervous, you can let the host know you’re alone and ask them to introduce you to some friendly people.

Play parties vary a little more in whether or not you can go alone. Some parties are for couples only. Others allow single women but not single men (this is more common in swinging culture, but it does happen in kink.)

Whether or not you feel comfortable going alone, assuming it’s allowed, is another matter. If you don’t have a partner to go with, can you buddy up with a kinky friend and go together? If there’s no-one you can go with, try posting on a Fetlife group connected to the event to see if anyone would be willing to be a friendly face for you to meet up with. And don’t forget to check if there’s a newbie meet-and-greet at the start of the event – there often is.

Don’t try to sneak in under the radar as a single person for events that are only for couples. You’ll get blacklisted quicker than you can say “BDSM.”

Do I have to play at a play party?

No! In fact, going with the expectation of playing is usually a mistake. You might or you might not – either is fine. Paying an entry fee for a party doesn’t guarantee you access to play, and if you act entitled you’re likely to rub people up the wrong way.

There should also never be any expectation or pressure to play. If anyone pressures you or makes you feel uncomfortable, speak to an organizer or a DM.

It’s best to go into a party with the expectation that you’ll meet some interesting people, have some good conversations, and watch some hot scenes happening. Anything else is a bonus!

The secret is that there is no secret!

People get very worried about going to their first kinky event, but you really don’t need to worry. Choose an event that is appropriate for you and your level of experience, familiarise yourself with and follow the rules, and speak to an organizer if you’re not sure about anything.   

Other than that, all you need to do is relax and be your wonderful charming self. Good luck!

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