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. 😉 )
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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! 🙂