A munch, in BDSM culture, is a low-pressure social gathering for people involved in or interested in BDSM, usually at a restaurant. When available, munches often use a private room.  The primary purpose of a munch is socializing, though some munches also have announcements from local organizations. Munches often help those who are curious about the lifestyle meet others who may be able to help them become more comfortable and better informed. Munches can also be a place to get advice about or pass on anecdotes about BDSM experiences.

Unlike a play party, most munches are casual affairs that exclude fetish attire or BDSM play, though a rare few include covert Mistress/slave interactions or other play. Some munches may have a specific focus, such as spirituality or whips. Others may be restricted to a specific group, such as women or submissives.

History of Munches

Munches started in the very early 90's, before the widespread introduction of the web. At that time, meeting members of the BDSM scene was a bit more difficult, given the then-prevalent bias against BDSM and the resulting lack of places to meet those of the same interest. While organizations such as the Society of Janus existed, there were few informal ways to meet others socially within the scene. The USENET group was a common meeting ground on-line, as was a San Francisco-area email list then known as BABES (Bay Area Bondage Enthusiasts Society).

One of the and BABES members, by the name of STella(tm) organized a social meeting at Flames, a coffeehouse in Santa Clara, California. It was a quiet meeting in one corner of a family-oriented coffee house.

After that, an informal rotation of meeting sponsors and locations was instituted, with widely varying amounts success. Not long afterward, STella(tm) suggested that a standard time and location be chosen, and selected Kirk's Steakburgers [1] at 361 S California Avenue in Palo Alto, as it had both great hamburgers and a spacious patio where attendees could meet in relative privacy. This was known as the "burger munch". (That Kirk's location was demolished, though a few other locations still exist.)

The Kirk's burger munch attracted a large and often spirited crowd, with discreet play. As time went on, the atmosphere became less discreet and people started bringing in outside food. Ultimately, the management insisted that the group stop meeting there.

Many of the original participants chose to found another social gathering just down the street, though STella requested they not use the name "burger munch". The name was shortened to "munch" and the gathering took on a quieter tone. The organizer of the first spin-off munch still runs a munch in the SF Bay Area.

Subsequent munches have emphasized a "socially acceptable" demeanor.

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