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
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
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 alt.sex.bondage 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 alt.sex.bondage 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  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.