Lolita Fashion 101: What is a Meetup + Tips for Hosting a Meetup
A meetup is basically a chance for people who wear lolita to meet up at a specific location and spend time together. Meetups are generally public-to-semi-public events. Most commonly, a meetup would be open to the members of a local lolita fashion group or community. While some meetups are free, others might have a ticket cost. In most cases, it’s good manners to RSVP, but it’s sometimes absolutely required. For example, if space is limited or the host needs to know how many people to book a reservation for at a venue, it’s critical that you RSVP.
Of course, not every instance of two or more lolita occupying the same space is a meetup! Private brithday or holiday parties, dinner parties, dates, shopping days and so forth between friends who happen to wear lolita are not the same as public meetups! People have all sorts of reasons for attending small events with friends and it’s generally doesn’t mean they are trying to snub anyone!
If you ever feel left out, the best solution is to host a meetup yourself!
How to Plan a Meetup
A meetup doesn’t have to be super fancy, it can be as simple as going to see a movie as a group, going to a public park as a group, or having people over your house for tea. For your first meetup, it’s easiest to select an activity in public, like a movie, ice skating, visiting a park, visiting a museum, having a picnic, etc.
Research ahead of time to make sure the venue doesn’t have any special rules about large groups or a dress code. Look up the cost per person (if you need to buy tickets), and if the venue has parking on site. If it’s something like a movie or a museum, pick a meeting place (for example: in the front lobby, or outside by the statue) so everyone can go in together.
Pick a date, and then check your local community to see if there are any rules or guidelines for posting an event. If you aren’t sure, contact a moderator from your local community. In my community, we make facebook events in the community facebook group. Ideally, try not to make meetups that conflict with existing meetups (two parties on the same day kind of situation).
Set up the event and be sure to list the date, time, location, cost and where people should meet when they get there. If you are doing a picnic/potluck or something else where people are bringing food to share, make a sign up sheet (for example a google spreadsheet) for people to write down what they are bringing. Make sure someone brings plates/cups/napkins/forks.
For meets with foods, it’s also good to ask people what food allergies / dietary restrictions they might have. If applicable, consider having note cards and a pen. That way, people can write down what their food is and that it contains allergens or designate things as being Vegan or Dairy free. Have people put the cards next to the dishes they brought.
Having a sharpie to mark drink cups or bottles with is also a great idea and helps reduce drinks getting thrown out because someone’s forgotten which one is theirs.
If your meet isn’t a picnic / potluck and it’s close to a meal time, or might run into a meal time, research ahead of time if there are restaurants in the area and suggest meeting for lunch before you go to the main attraction, or dinner afterwards. If your comm is chronically late, getting lunch at a cafeteria style venue (where each person orders separately then brings it back to the table) at the start of the meetup and making that the meeting spot before you move on to the main event can work out very well.
Arrive to your meetup early, and wait at the designated location. As people arrive, introduce yourself if you don’t know them. Know how many people RSVPed and check who is there to make sure you aren’t leaving anyone behind, also check the event page to make sure no one said they are running late. If the arrival time comes and goes, and people are missing, it’s generally OK to post in the event comments that you are all buying tickets and going in now, and where late comers can find the group (theater 3, the Marie Antoinette exhibit, by the fountain, etc) or a way to contact you, like your cell number (obviously don’t do this if the event listing is actually totally public).
Generally, you don’t have to set a structured end time or a super detailed itinerary for a meetup, it will just naturally end, but you can set one if you want.
Meetup DOs and DON’Ts
While many of these may seem mom-ish or common sense, they are based on experiences I’ve had in the past. In general, just keep in mind that when we wear lolita, we really stick out in public. Being respectful of others and the space helps generate a positive reputation for your group, and ensures that the venue will be happy to see you the next time you return. And being respectful and kind to your fellow attendees can be the foundation to new friendships that can last even beyond your interest in lolita. (oh man, I really sound like a mom….)
Do wear lolita, and/or do talk to the host (if it’s not you) if you plan on not wearing lolita. If you are not wearing another Jfashion style or gothic style clothing, try to wear “nice” clothing. Some comms (local community groups) are much less strict about this than others, but when in doubt, ask!
Don’t bring a plus one, child or a pet without getting an OK from the organizer. If you are the organizer, don’t bring a pet without getting an OK from the venue. Make sure to include plus ones and kids in the headcount for the venue if you are the organizer (when applicable), and if there is any doubt, if you are the organizer, do confirm that the venue allows children / isn’t 18+.
Do make sure you pay and RSVP promptly (when applicable) if you are not the meetup host. Don’t ask for a discount – usually the price is just the cost to the organizer.
Don’t go to a restaurant or other venue that serves food and bring your own food / order nothing but water. If you take up a table at a restaurant for longer than normal, tip more than normal.
Do keep in mind that petticoats make us bigger than normal. Be aware of the space around you and try not to block walkways or inconvenience other guests at the venue.
Don’t be overly loud, yelling, etc, especially in museums, libraries, restaurants and other public spaces. At the risk of sounding like a mom: make sure you are using your inside voice.
Do be respectful of the venue and other guests when taking photos. Don’t climb up on things, block doors / walkways or enter spaces that aren’t designed for the public to enter them.
If you want to film or take photos at a meetup for your blog / vlog, do tell attendees up front and get their permission first. If you aren’t the meet organizer, also be sure to ask permission from them before filming.
Don’t re-post pictures from a meetup to image boards or public other locations without asking the person in the picture if it’s OK.
If you are taking a group photo, do make sure you include all of the attendees who want to participate in group photos and/or take multiple group photos with different themes. Don’t force anyone to be in a photo if they don’t want to.
Don’t touch or grab other attendees hair or clothing without asking.
Do try to introduce yourself to new people while at a meetup, and don’t assume that someone is trying to exclude you just because they are talking to someone else there. People naturally gravitate to talking to people they already know, and it’s usually not meant to be a slight.
Do plan meetups in your local community! Especially if there aren’t many!
What About Planning a Tea Party?
While there are a number of tea houses that take walk in guests or small parties along side other customers, planning a large, private, formal tea party is a little more involved, and may require paying a significant down payment to a venue, as well as booking well in advance. If you don’t have a party-planning background, It’s best to host a few normal meetups before trying to rent out a whole venue and do a serious ticketed event.
However, with a tea party, you will want to absolutely collect RSVPs and dietary restrictions and then work with the venue to make sure there are options for attendees who can’t eat the main menu.
You should also collect payment ahead of time, and get a firm headcount as early as possible. The larger the party, the more complicated it likely will be (and the more expensive the room rental will be), so if you have a very big community, consider capping attendance to keep things manageable.
Lastly, I want to end with a final thought – some people in your community may not be good at planning and may not want to plan meetups, or perhaps they are too busy or they have medical issues or other struggles that make it difficult for them to even attend a meetup. Remember, we never know what someone else might be going through, so don’t take it personally if people can’t attend your (or other people’s) meetups, or if someone doesn’t plan meetups. At the end of the day, lolita fashion is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, so don’t over stress, and have fun!
p.s. I am terrible at taking my own advice and never remember to ask if I can post meetup photos, so, I don’t actually have any of other people to put in the post…