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What Happens at a Munch? Basic Etiquette and Description of a Munch...or..... Oh my God, they're going to kill me!
Here's your informal CTSM Guide on.....


Evening Munch Coordiator = Bob.
Please Read Completely Before E-mailing the Coordinators with Questions. [RTFM!]



Relax. We're not going to kill you. We're just here to convert you. *chuckle*
Greetings! Welcome to the CTSM. I'm also the "Typical Munch Participant".

Clothing

Usually I wear jeans or my work clothes to the Munch, meaning you'll see me dressed casually and comfortably. Some people show up at the Munch in their leathers [leather jacket, or chapsover jeans, or leather trenchcoat over everything, etc.] but just as many come directly from work.

I look like an ordinary, everyday person. And at the Munch, you'll see ordinary people all over the durn place: doctors in their suits, musicians in their T-shirts and jeans, mothers in their good sturdy shoes and students in their sneakers, lawyers in their briefs. [Couldn't resist. Sorry. ;) ].

Some people have uh, interesting jewelry if you look a little closer,or they carry some 'telltale' purse with lots of studs and weird rings and things on them.

Some Masters/Owners/Mistresses prefer to require their properties [slaves/submissives] to wear a collar to the Munch to show that they are 'spoken for' - something as simple as a necklace that can pass in public will do.  If you're submissive and want to identify yourself as such, just say so. If you wear a collar as a 'signal' that you're submissive.. that also usually means that you're also spoken for!

However, if you're curious about someone's status as being partnered or not, ask. Don't assume! The 'collar' may indeed just be a necklace... and around the neck of an august Dominant! ;>

SIGs: We also have a few special interest subgroups in the CTSM. A relatively new one is our CTSM PonySig.. other suggested ones have included Submissive Women/Dominant Men (it's recommended to join ChgoMaleDomfemsub list at YahooGroups) and Women Learning Dominance (see CLAW, a women's-only leathergroup via Chicago's Leather Rose!). If you have one to suggest and you'd like to head it, please just suggest it to the list.

What we Do

When y'all show up, we'll talk about ordinary everyday things some of the time: school, work, and world events, news, the arts, books and music. And some of the time we talk about our common passions: Leather, Mastery, slavery, s/m, Domination, the sex industry, Lesgaybi issues, and so forth. The CTSM is a nonmoderated group: meaning that we usually don't do 'demos' or give lectures, have speakers, etc. like other Chicago area groups. We're relaxed, and unstructured, and welcome you to the table with any topic you'd like to bring up. In a way, it's like a kinky Quaker meeting - sometimes we just sit peacefully 'til the spirit moves us to speak. Unfortunately, we don't get to wear those cute little caps.

Attendance varies at the CTSM Munches due to weather and other circumstances.We've had as few as 2 participants and as many as 40 or more at a single Munch. asks that the people attending Suburban CTSM Munches RVSP with him first over e-mail so he knows how many to anticipate at his chosen restaurant.

Since we're taking up space in a public place and you'll probably be hungry at 7 PM on a weeknight, we ask that you seriously consider buying something to eat or at least drink, if you're not hungry. The restaurants the CTSM chooses usually are not expensive and there are usually vegetarian alternatives on the menu.The waitresses work hard and deserve a break, too, and it's tacky to come and shred napkins for hours and make a mess.

How Long CTSM MunchesTake

The evening munches usually last about two hours. Since we rarely have a fixed agenda and don't give demonstrations/lectures, you are free to come and go anytime you wish.

No-No's

If you'd like to announce the goings-on of another group to CTSM Munch participants [including for-profit events] we welcome your limited announcement. This goes for writers on the CTSM YahooGroups list as well.

But, ...

"Limited" means: Use restraint (no pun intended) in your postings to the list. You can bring flyers to the CTSM Munches as well if you'd like. Sometimes local vendors of BDSM 'toys' offer 'coupon specials' to CTSM Munchgroup members. If you spam [continuously send unsolicited email] to CTSM YahooGroups list members, or make yourself annoying at CTSM Munches promoting your group like a used car salesman, you will be kicked off the list or asked not to return to the CTSM Munches. This has not yet happened to any of our 200 + participants.. but, hey - there have to be some rules.

Although the CTSM is not a pickup group or a singles/swinger's group,I know that trolling {looking for a new date, playmate, etc} constantly goes on. We're not blind! :> thankfully. But we ask that you keep your flirtation light and your attitude respectful. If your affections are refused, take your rejection gracefully and don't be a jerk and ruin the meal for everyone else. We're not relationship counselors...

Yes-Yes's, and Who You Can Bring Along

If you'd like to bring something to show others [we've had people bring their handmade collars, whips, cuffs, and so on] we ask that you hand things round discreetly. We've never had a problem with gawkers, but not everyone is as titillated as you are about a stainless-steel, locking posture collar... [if they can figure out what it is]..Since we meet in 'vanilla' spaces much of the time (as the rest of the planet is vanilla-ish, anyway) it's best to keep things low-key. We sometimes meet in much more private spaces.

Bring anyone along who you think would be interested in the Chicago Leather and pansexual community, and who may be able to contribute something to our discussions. Obviously, please don't bring along people who may be offended by such discussion or who may not be mature enough to handle open discussion about sexuality, like Aunt Mabel or your grandmama.



And now.. Your Mama speaks. [..... a word from one of our coodinators to a correspondent about Munches:]



I can't bear it anymore.. as a Munch coordinator myself, I must say that I've heard x's comments before in one variation or another and they do trouble me. I must admit that I found x's comment 'I will return *if* invited' irksome, as the point of Munches, in part, is to help create a network of likeminded people. They're not meant as entertainment, and although yes, there IS trolling and gossip, no-one is royalty and is expected to weather these annoyances with humor and patience.

When I was 22 and first discovering the Scene in my area, I was incredibly intimidated by the *variety* of munches, discussion groups, etc. out there - an embarrassment of riches, really. But most of them were actually formalized cliques, and not for me.

In the end, you create your OWN family from the cloth of the BDSM community. In my circle, for example, are Masters and slaves who are *not* part of the mainstream BDSM community and have been outside it for decades. I also have club-going gay friends who consider BDSM 'cute' and aren't interested in much more than bedroom games. That's OK by me. But when I first started getting into the Scene, I was expecting something like you seem to be, a velvet room like in 'Eyes Wide Shut' and an alternate, highly structured, secretive community. Reality Check! There doesn't seem to be anything like that, like Laura Antoniou's "Marketplace" series out there {at least, I've not discovered it}.

On the other hand, a word of warning: variations on this disparate community, is *really* the only community that will TRULY understand your proclivities, whatever they are. And the reason why I speak so passionately about this is that I believe that sexuality and fetish, attraction to slavery and Mastery, etc. are not COMPONENTS of one's personality but rather part of your *whole* personality. In my humble opinion,if you cut that lifeline off when you are only just beginning to discover, you risk alienating yourself from people who potentially (despite some initial awkwardness) be nurturing, supportive, helpful and *family* on an emotional, spiritual and sexual level that is UNPARALLELED by any other circle of friends in your life. Welcoming your sexuality/fetish/etc in a circle of people who are understanding, is a step on the way of reversing what society tells us anyway, that we are sick, twisted, ill, etc. I've lost 5 friends over my 'coming out 'into Kink. Never again.

It's important to examine your feelings as you explore, as you go along. I always find myself telling newcomers to the Scene, this list below. Many of them echo what others have already said, but theirs are indeed wise words:



+ Examine your EXPECTATIONS and compare it with REALITY.  If you expect a throng of august Masters with their collared slaves paying obeisance in public, and are attending a 'newbie Munch', how likely is this to occur in a restaurant in the middle of town?  If this were a party, and trying to make a good initial impression, how would you conduct yourself? Just because people are speaking of sexual issues doesn't necessarily give all license to become casual and sloppy. And I agree with you, X -hearing sexual topics discussed with strangers is very difficult to cope with. However, you will become more comfortable in time.

+ Attend Frequently, and switch groups until you find a group with which you're comfortable. Many meeting groups/munches change in attendance frequently and change their 'menu' of offered topics, speakers, etc. You will also become familiar, and hopefully friendly with, other repeat attendees. {see CTSM's People Pages to find out about other networked groups}

+ Be ready to contribute! This is the time you can make the difference between passivity and 'lying back, waiting for something to happen' and CREATING the community that in turn, supports you. Be Active - and in being active, you're valuable! Do research on the local scene, or read up on BDSM issues in the news (the Mining Company or the GO Network now, has a great BDSM News section) or in the Sandmutopian Guardian, or similar BDSM publication.

+ Make an effort and try to be patient. The harsh lesson is that: a). the group was there before you came to it and b). will continue to exist without you. However, you can make it a vital and active group by being vital and active yourself! One cannot wait for the mountain to come to you, to use a hackneyed phrase. Our immediate situation is often the result of our own contributions. If you don't like what you see, jump in and MAKE it more like what you want!



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