Birdcage get-togethers or meet-ups usually take place in a public space, like a restaurant, or park. Once in a while they may be held in someone's residence, and then the hosts can dictate what they regard as appropriate.
This document provides some guidelines about what you can expect at a get-together, and some etiquette guidelines that we would like you to follow.
What to Expect
Think of this as a meeting of friends who share a common interest - in this case polyamory. People come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Some are regular posters on the Birdcage, others may be guests of members who have little idea what we are about. The hope is that at some stage you can look around the table and think "Wow, these people all know enough about poly that I don't have to hide! Maybe I'm not alone!"
Please feel free to bring guests to a get-together that you feel may be interested in meeting us - just inform the organizers that you will be bringing extra people.
- Remember that you are in a public place. We tend to be a large group who "invade" a restaurant - please be mindful that there may be other patrons in the restaurant, and there may be children within earshot. Keep conversational topics appropriate to the surroundings.
- Respect other people's personal space. Quite a few of us have been to many meet-ups and know each other well, and are on hugging and kissing terms. Please don't take that as an invitation to cuddle with the person sitting next to you or hug everyone goodbye.
- Don't be surprised if polyamory doesn't get talked about. This is an informal session to get to know each other, and we all have many interests outside of poly, and love to hear about each other on more levels. Discussion of poly is absolutely fine, though, and if you would like to talk about it, don't wait for someone else to bring up the subject.
- Circulate. While we try to start the evening standing at a bar so that everyone can say hi, sometimes that is not possible, and others come later, once everyone is seated. If there is someone you would like to talk to at the other end of the table, take an appropriate opportunity to get up and go over and chat with them. Try to have a word with everybody at the get-together.
- Tip your waitstaff. With such large groups, the staff are dealing with a lot of split checks, and do a lot of extra running around. Usually we like to be able to go back to places we like (to do more than apologize for the last time we were there), so making sure that the waitstaff have a positive impression on us is a bonus. (For some places, a gratuity is already added, so check your check.)
- Be patient. This differentiates us from the typical pick-up scene. Don't expect to hit it off with everyone the first time - come back a few times and get to know people. If you find someone really attractive or interesting, we suggest you limit involvement at the meeting to the strictly platonic level. You can always make other arrangements with the person for another time.
- Relax! This isn't a race, and this isn't a winner-take-all world of relationships. Come to a meeting relaxed, not keyed up as to whether you will "meet the right person" or not. The idea is that this is a bunch of people with whom you have something in common. Think of them as potential friends, rather than potential partners, and the mood will change. If you don't think you can do that, then our get-togethers may not the place for you.
- Be welcoming to first-timers. We all had our "first time", and can maybe remember how nervous we were to walk into a room full of strange people. Make first-timers feel as welcome as possible. Introduce them to others.
- Treat Others with Respect. Yes, we all have one interest in common - polyamory. Beyond that, all bets are off - don't expect people to be of the same religious or political beliefs than you, or have the same attitudes towards sexuality. This results in a need for mutual respect when talking about potential "hot" issues. This is a social meeting, not a debating circle.
- Your personal information is your own. Do not share what you are not comfortable sharing. And just from a security point of view, you might want to wait until you get to know people before you tell them where you work, what you do, your life story, your phone number, etc. Conversely, don't be offended if someone does not provide you with all of this info…try not to ask too many personal questions of people upon a first meeting. Some may be comfortable providing any info, others might be afraid to until they get to know someone… please make it easy for anyone to say "I'm not comfortable sharing that right now".
- If you do have a problem with anyone's behavior and can't resolve the situation yourself, please let one of the organizers know at the time if possible, so that we can step in and make sure that person understands what behavior is appropriate. If you wait until afterwards, that makes it harder for us to do anything about it (and in the meantime, the miscreant may bother other people as well). We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable. If you don't, please let us know so that we can manage the situation.
- Do not take photographs or video at the get-together without the express consent of everyone who will be in the picture, even if in the background.
Luckily, to date, we haven't had any problems along these lines - we have this in place to try to make sure that we never do.