What are meetups?

What are BJD Meetups?

After moving to Florida, I knew I wanted to meet people who were active in the hobby that could share in my obsession. We previously explored how to meet people in the hobby, and meetups are a fantastic option to meet new people or get to know those you’ve met online!

While some of this information may seem quite basic to some, others have expressed confusion about what meetups are and how, exactly, they are organized. This is my attempt to help clarify what meetups are, who they’re for, and how they’re run.

1. What are meetups?

Meetups are get-togethers for people who have similar interests – in this case, BJD. They can be large or small, in public or private, indoors or outdoors, and organized or not.

2. Who are they for?

Meetups are for anyone! They are perfect for newcomers to the hobby to learn about a variety of companies, sizes, styles, etc. They are also perfect for those new to the area who want to meet others with similar interests. And they are a lot of fun for those who have been in the hobby for a while and love to hang out with friends who share theirย excitement.

If you’re shy, there are small meetups that can be less overwhelming. There will be a smaller variety to see, but sometimes it can be easier to talk to people.

If you’re more outgoing, or really want to see a larger variety, it may be beneficial to find a larger meet up in your area.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice on the size of a meetup, and that’s ok! Don’t be shy!

3. How are they run?

Meetups can be as organized as 1 or 2 people saying “Hey! I’m/we’re getting together at this place (a library, for example) at this time (say, 3 pm) – comeย and hang out! We’ll be there for at least 2 hours!”

They can also be incredibly detailed with their organization. The Chicago area group (ChitownDollz) generally has 2 meetups per year that are completely organized. They are large meetups (close to 100 attendees) at a rented facility (they rent a hall) with a small entrance fee ($15, I believe, which INCLUDES food and beverages!). There are areas set up for sales items, places to display dolls, freebie tables, photography backdrops and dioramas, and tables and chairs to visit with friends.

Meetups can also be organized at conventions that may have attendees who are BJD fans. These are usually not convention-sponsored meetups (although this can vary!), and may just consist of BJD collectors attending the event sitting around and getting to know each other as both BJD fans and (insert fandom here) fans. Some con-goers try to create a BJD panel so there is a designated time/place for BJD fans to get together at the convention where dolls and owners are not in anyone’s way (or in danger of being stepped on).

There are so many different ways that meetups can be run, it’s so hard to highlight them all! I’ll explore a few different types of meetups in the next post.

Just remember…

Even if you are new to a group, don’t be shy about talking to people and introducing yourself! I know it can be intimidating trying to talk to people who seem to know each other really well, but, in my experience, collectors are always happy to include new folks.

How to meet BJD people in the hobby.

How to Meet People in the BJD Hobby

Since my husband and I have (yet again) moved to a new area, I thought this might be a good time to create a series that looks at how to meet people in the BJD hobby, attending meetups, types of meetups, and how to plan successful get-togethers.

The last time we moved (2.5 years ago), we were moving away from all of our friends and his entire family in Chicago to be near my family in Minnesota. We knew a few people, but none who shared our enthusiasm for our various hobbies.

I had previously been introduced to the MN BJD community through a variety of sources (online forums/Facebook, conventions, etc.) so it was pretty easy to reinsert myself into the online community and get to know people that way. But because most meetups were over an hour away, it was harder to get together in person.

This time, however, we didn’t know anybody! (To be perfectly honest, we have lived in Florida for about 4 months, and we still don’t know a whole lot of people… but I digress. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

So how did I meet people who share my love of BJDs over the years? I looked online, attended meetups, and found other collectors at conventions.

Online

When we initially learned we were moving to Florida, my first search was for Florida BJD groups on Facebook. There was 1 in the Orlando area where we were moving to, and a few others spread throughout the state. I got lucky!

I was able to join a location-specific BJD group and interact through Facebook before meeting anyone in person.

If there weren’t any location-specific groups, my next attempt would have been to scour both the Den of Angels meetup section as well as other Facebook groups (BJD Addicts, Still plays with dolls: A BJD group, Fairyland BJD Loves All, etc.) to see if there were any users in my area and/or if there had been any meetups near my new location recently.

Sometimes, in more remote places, making friends online is the easiest way to share your interests with others. If you don’t live in a populated area and are unable to travel, this may be the best option.

However, if you’re able to travel a bit and/or live in a city, chances are good there are others near you who share your passion.

Meetups

After finding a fairly active group of people online, I was able to attend a meetup organized by another member. While it can be nerve-wracking, it’s definitely worth it! To be honest, I was more nervous about attending my first meetup in a new state than I was when starting a new job! Not sure you can face it alone? Bring a friend! My husband would have gone if I had asked him to.

Most of the time, meetups are held in a public location. The first meetup I attended here in Florida was at an IHOP. The first one I attended in the Chicago area (in 2006!) was at Mitsuwa, a Japanese marketplace.

Meetups can be anywhere, though – inside, outside, private residence, or public place. Not sure you’re comfortable going to a private residence or an outdoor meet? It’s OK to suggest a location or request an indoor public place for the next meetup.

I’ll go over some potential meetup locations in another post. ๐Ÿ™‚

Conventions

When I originally started getting interested in BJDs, before I had found an online community, I was able to connect with other collectors at anime conventions.

It has been my experience that BJD collectors have a wide variety of interests, and chances are good you will see a BJD at any number of conventions (just go check out Artist Alley – BJDs can be frequently seen guarding goods at the tables). It is also likely there will be unofficial meetups you can attend while there, but if not (or you can’t find them), don’t worry! Most collectors are happy to talk about their dolls – especially if there is a secondary fandom crossover!

Final Thoughts

I have honestly found that meeting people online first is the easiest way to get to know others in the area who share your enthusiasm. From there, it’s a lot easier to meet folks in person. With Facebook groups and other localized forums, it’s not too hard to find people in your area.

So don’t be shy! Get out there and introduce yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚

MN BJD Meet – Aug 16

My sister and I attended the MN BJD meet in Roseville, MN on Sunday. It was good to go to a meet, but really awkward being the newbie in the group! I’m so used to knowing everyone that walking into a room and not knowing anybody was really weird….

Anyway, we met some fantastic people and I took loads of pictures! Except I didn’t get any pictures of my dolls or my sister’s doll. Ooops! Will have to fix that next time.

Upcoming Meets! (MN & IL)

There are a couple meets coming up in both the Chicago (IL)ย and Twin Cities (MN) areas.

As I transition over from my life in Chicago and helping to run ChitownDollz forum, I will probably still have some of the Chicago area meets posted up here in addition to the MN meets. However, I most likely will not be able to attend too many other than the huge summer & winter mega meets in the Chicago area.

When things get a bit more settled, I will be posting and (hopefully) attending the MN meets in southeastern Minnesota.

MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, August 16
Time: Noon – 5pm
Location: Ramsey County Library, Roseville, MN (County Road B & Hamline Ave. near Hwy 36)
NOTES: No outside food is allowed, but there is a Dunn Bros whereย food and drinks can be purchased.

CHICAGO
Date: Saturday, August 22
Time: 3pm – Close
Location: Mitsuwa Marketplace, 100 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
NOTES: Do not arrive excessively early! We have been asked by Mitsuwa management to not meet during lunch hours due to how busy they are. Feel free to arrive early and eat lunch or peruse the book store, but do not start reserving tables until closer to 3pm.

Mitsuwa Meetup Feb 21 – ChitownDollz

ChitownDollz had a meetup on February 21. I wasn’t able to make it until later in the evening, so I think I missed a bunch of people who were there earlier.

I was so happy I went! There were a few people there who are returning to the hobby after several years of littleย to no activity. ๐Ÿ˜€

There were only a few dolls left when I got there, so there aren’t too many pictures this time…