Attending your first Bi Meet?

BCN 122 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 122, December 2013

Summoning up the courage to go to a bi group the first time can be hard for all sorts of reasons. You might be questioning or coming to terms with your sexuality. You might not know anyone there. You’re not sure what to say or do. When you arrive, everyone else seems to have been friends for years and you’ve not even heard of BiCon. Despite sitting there for some time, no one is talking to you. It’s very tempting to leave early and never come back.

There are a few things you can bear in mind that’ll make your first event a lot easier:

1 – If they are held in a public space such as a pub or university campus then it may not be obvious to regular attendees that you’re there for that event. They may avoid talking to you in case you’re a member of the general public or with another group.
2 – Most people who go to pub meets and such will be there to hang out with their friends.
3 – Apart from the one or two dodgy people every group or event has, everyone else will be friendly and fabulous in their own ways.
4 – If it’s a regular social event remember that new people come every month. Regular attendees usually make an effort to be friendly, answer questions and make sure they have a good time… but so many new people never come back!

As you can imagine this gets tiring, so people tend to stick to who they know and sadly it takes about 4-5 times for a new person to break into the group and be invited to hang out with them outside of that event. You have to be patient. It won’t happen the first time you go!

lioncake-300x190Here’s 10 things you can do if you’re new:

If it’s a meet up in a cafe or pub:

1 – Get there a while after the starting time. It’s easier to spot a large group than the few people who get there first. Also a lot of event organisers get there after the advertised starting time!
2 – Don’t walk out if you can’t find the group straight away. Don’t be afraid to look round the tables and see if anyone makes eye contact with you. Does anyone lift their head up and look like they might expect you to join them? Is anyone wearing bi colours or bi merchandise? Maybe there is an object on the table that indicates who they are? A lot of groups put something like a cuddly toy out. Finally if you’re really stuck don’t be afraid to approach folk and ask if they’re there for the bi event. If you get the wrong people it won’t be the end of the world. Few people realise that the “bi social” means an event for bisexuals!
3 – If you’re really nervous about going get in touch with a group organiser and ask them to meet you and introduce you to other people.
4 – Try to spot other newbies. They are the ones looking quite frightened on their own awkwardly watching other people having conversations. Buddy up and introduce yourself to the others together. It’s less scary and easier to break into a circle of people talking.

The remaining tips are applicable to any event:

5 – If you’ve been there ages and no one is making an effort to talk to you don’t give up! Chances are people are just engrossed in conversation with their friends and sticking to people they know. Pick someone who looks friendly and chatty and not too deep in conversation. Go stand near them and try and join in.
Still not happening?  When they reach the end of a conversation topic just butt in: “sorry to gate crash your conversation but I’m new and I don’t know anyone, mind if I chat to you for a bit? What were you talking about?”
If they are not very friendly or the conversation isn’t going anywhere or they look like they don’t want to be disturbed, just thank them and say you’re going to see who else you can introduce yourself to. Keep doing this and in time you’ll find a kindred spirit and strike up a jolly conversation.
6 – Avoid directly asking about someone’s bisexuality for your first few questions to someone. Conversations like this get very repetitive and can make regular attendees can feel like they’re being used for your own personal Q&A session. Maybe try some open ended questions: “what have you been up to lately?”
7 – One of the tricks of meeting new people is finding out what they are passionate about. What do they love? What do they spend their spare time doing? Collecting stamps? Fell walking? Watching Doctor Who? Knowing that is your way in. People love to talk about their passions and oddly enough, people rarely get a chance to talk about what they love most.
8 – Find out if people are on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and ask if you can add them as a friend later. This is a great way to get invited out to more events and stay in the loop. When you do add / follow people send them a little message saying who you are and that it was nice to meet them.
9 – Don’t go to social events with the sole intention of getting laid or scoring a date – it will not end well! People will suss you out pretty quickly and it will make them feel uncomfortable. People will probably avoid you and may even warn others to stay away from you too. If you really hope to meet someone to be in a relationship with start going to events regularly and make friends. The rest will happen in time.
10 – Be patient at your first event and be prepared to stand alone feeling like a lemon for a while. Be brave and stick with it for at least an hour or two rather than ducking straight back out.

Local Bi GroupsI try to welcome new people when I can, but I still see a lot of people at events who don’t talk to anyone and walk out later looking miserable or angry. They may vow never to return and complain that everyone in the group was rude and no one made the effort to speak to them. It is really hard being unknown but it’s a fact of life that out of a group of people only a few will come and talk to you so you have to introduce yourself to them!

Have fun and good luck in attending your first event!

Hannah Bee

 

BCN’s nationwide listings of local bi groups / meetups is here