I liked being choked. I liked being told what to do. Turns out, those kinks make me come harder. In trying to find what to do about my newfound kinks, I was pointed toward a “munch” for newbies taking place at Wicked Grounds, a kink café in San Francisco. A munch is an event where people can hang out and talk about kink without anything sexual happening. It’s like going to meet friends at a restaurant where the dinner table conversation is almost strictly about sex.
Despite knowing I wouldn’t be pressured into doing anything kinky, I was still nervous for the newbie munch. Would the people be cliquey? Would I be accused of not being kinky enough to be there? I remember walking into the café and seeing the walls covered in paintings depicting naked people tied up with rope. I hadn’t done anything with rope before, so I continued to wonder if I would belong.
I was early, so I got to watch people arrive. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by the variety of people who were there. There were married couples and people who had come alone. People who were dressed to impress and others who were very casual. Most striking, however, was the variety of age. There was 18-year-old me, a woman who looked to be in her 60s and everything in between. What this immediately told me was that anyone and everyone was welcome here.
At the time, the newbie munch was hosted by a charismatic man named Stefanos. He went through the basics of kink, consent and the community. By the end, everyone was chatting and laughing. Afterward, we all walked together to visit the Citadel, a sex dungeon, a place where people can do kinky things. These exist so people can watch and be watched, scream as loud as they want, use cool furniture (e.g. spanking horses and sex swings) and meet cool people. Once we arrived, Stefanos showed us a large variety of kink toys, from violet wants to floggers. After that, I met more cool people and someone tied beautiful knots on my body with sweet-smelling hemp rope. Once I was tied, I enjoyed the feeling of the rope while watching people smile and enjoy the pain and pleasure around me. The people were so welcoming and fun to watch, I knew I would be returning soon.
Though this munch was more structured, most are more like hangouts at restaurants. There’s all sorts of munches, from enjoying rope to erotic hypnosis, from interest in coding to entrepreneurship. Though people are gathered because of their mutual interest in kink, conversations are often about everything but. I’ve overheard people talking about what Star Wars did to science fiction and how to best cure a ham. It isn’t uncommon for people to exchange numbers after, sometimes so they can arrange to do something kinky but sometimes just to hang out.
Last year, I began hosting the Berkeley Under 30 Munch, a munch meant for the kinky and the kink-curious who are under the age of 30. This munch was started because many students who were curious weren’t going to munches because they didn’t want to deal with older people hitting on them. Also people can seem very experienced and trustworthy, when in other circles they’re known to violate consent and/or not be very experienced after all. A few months ago, the leader of a munch about a niche kink was able to keep others from doing kinky things with a known consent-violator. This information might not have gotten out otherwise because the person who was known to do things against people’s will had a strong online presence.This munch allows for students to meet other young kinksters and learn what they’re about before they get involved. Sex dungeons are also a great place to meet people, but watching naked people be flogged or people bound beautifully in rope can be quite distracting. But at a munch, anyone can come and discuss their curiosities, desires and kinks for the price of a milkshake.
I’ve been to quite a few, and they are one of the best ways to meet kinky people. While many people are tempted to just meet people on the internet because they are shy and/or it seems easier, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves in order to seem appealing. Going to munches allows you to meet people in real life, hear about events, hear if it is safe to do kinky things with certain people and eat some good food. And who doesn’t like good food?
Kylie Sammons writes the Tuesday column on Sex. Contact her at [email protected].