I joined five MeetUp groups, and this is what happened.

Everything Kaye!

Art MeetUp group projectEverything Kaye

We are so focused on online platforms, that we tend to overlooked ones that works well on and offline. MeetUp. I'll insert here, that I first thought it was a front for swingers. And I wasn't the only one but we'll talk about him later.

MeetUp brings together individuals and communities with similar hobbies, interest, and professionals for online activities and in-person events. MeetUp began after the September 11th attacks, when a gentleman named Scott Heiferman met his neighbors for the first time on the roof of his building in NYC. Add in the influence of a book called Bowling Alone, a fictional book written by Robert D. Putman; which focuses on the collapse of human connection. Scott also enjoyed a music group that sadly, no one in his circle of friends liked ( I feel you), he created MeetUp (sourced from wikipedia).

As I am quickly approaching being a empty nester, I thought I needed to really start developing friendships outside of my son's soccer circle. Also my hobbies, likes, and dining options have changed as I've matured. I need friends that reflect the new maturity level of entertainment and events that I like to attend. As a true introvert, who loves watching movies, doing puzzles, reading books and writing, and for the most part, love doing alone. I knew this was going to be hard.

I downloaded the app and started exploring the groups. I ended up joining five groups, Arts, Films, Events, Book, and Dining. I thought these were a good fit for me.

I was nervous about pressing ATTEND for my first meet up but I finally did it! The first one was close to home and it was being held on a Thursday. Some groups have 500+ members, so usually there's a limit on how many can attend each event, so if you want to attend an event it's best to press attend and then later change your RSVP if you cannot go. My first group was the book group, they were meeting at the library in a reserved room. I read the brief description of the event, as I was sitting in the car. I signed in at the greeting table and for each book I brought to donate or trade, I received the same number of tickets to exchange for the same amount of books to take home. So let's say you bring five books, you get five tickets for new books; that others brought to the event.

Now this is when this event became really enjoyable (funny lol). In my excitement to find new books I forgot the first rule. Don't pick up any books from tables. Just walk around and look at what's available. After a half an hour wait, you can choose your books. The half hour is for those that are running a little late. It also gives everybody a chance to look and see what's available. Books are divided up on tables according to their genre.

Book swapping with MeetUp Book groupBelgium photographer: Tom Hermans

I began grabbing books and walking around with my covenant choices. Not noticing everyone else had sat down and started discussing ideas for next book club. The group host (whom usually has an assistant or two), reminded me that we shouldn't touch books yet. I was a little embarrassed since it was my first time, but other women began to laugh and hug me saying, " it's okay, it happens," especially to new attendees. I'm happy to say that when we begin to actually get our books, several women helped me find the books I had prematurely collected. I'm glad I attended, I made connections with a few women my age, that are also in other groups with me. Like books? Try a MeetUp book group.

The second group I attended was an art group. This group met up at a local coffee shop. In this group The Host comes up with an art project, but offers other art supplies for those who would rather simply draw. After the success of my first outing, I was feeling adventurous, I thought I'd take on the sculpting project. The hardest part was bending the wire, but once I had my wire figure created; the clay was pretty easy. Take a look above.

The next group basically host various outings. One week you could be going to a football game, the next week a walking tour, the next week an all white party. Average age of this particular group is 40 to 60+. Members of this group are encouraged to offer ideals of activities and events like, golf or paint n sip. With this group, I went on a walking tour linked above. I had a wonderful time, I spent an extra hour after the walk with a one-on-one with the tour guide for my article.

I haven't attended any MeetUps with the film group because of scheduling, but I'm sure it will be fun to attend movies with others and have dinner/ drinks before or after to discuss the movie.

My last group was the dining out group. The host of the dining group chooses what restaurant the group will attend that month or that week. After they make the choice( with some input from the group that was at the last dining event), they then contact the restaurant for reservations or at least a "heads up", if they don't take reservations. You decide how many dinners you attend, I'm starting to notice that some diners dine every week or every month, if they get the a seat. Remember, I would suggest that you click that you are going to attend and then update your RSVP later, after you check your schedule, instead of checking your schedule first because spots go pretty fast! How do I know? I ended up on the wait list because I needed to check my schedule so on the wait list I went. Someone did change their RSVP for the dining experience that I wanted to attend, so I came off the waitlist and attended the dining experience.

The Host and her assistant choice The 1Eleven Flavor House restaurant, a newcomer to the downtown Dayton area, established in 2021. This restaurant is set in the middle of the old grit of downtown and the rehabbing of the city. An urban restaurant oasis.

Joining my group inside the restaurant, Our dining area looked and felt like a home dinner party. The restaurant had created a dining experience far enough from the bar and the other guests that we felt secluded. The music was wonderful, most songs set in late 70's to 90's. Check out their drink menu, a lot of the drinks are named after some great songs.

Everything Kaye

We did an ice breaker ( what movie are you binge watching right now?), I said, Audrey Hepburn, because I binge watch her movies (every weekend lol). Everyone was nice and polite and we talked and laughed all night. Well 2 hrs. There was one gentleman that sat across from me with his wife that looked a bit nervous. After he warmed up to us, he told us he thought his wife had dragged him to a swingers group! We were like no way, we're just singles, couples, and retirees, wanting to eat and conversate with other adults. ( I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying that's not what we were in to). And here's where I would give you a warning, any group that you might join, only go where you're comfortable going. There's a group where they go to a gentleman's house and watch movies, I don't feel comfortable going to someone's home, but I feel comfortable meeting people at a movie theater in my own car and leaving in my own car. So do what's best for you and what you feel comfortable doing. I'm also not a go out at night person, so I tend to attend day or early evening events.

So what did I order? First I don't think anyone in my group ordered the same meal, so we were able to see 12 different menu items. Some guest ordered appetizers, and the portions were so large; they were sharable. The owner checked on us from time to time, but our server, Rodney was amazing , but I knew that! See I looked up the reviews about the restaurant and kept seeing, Oh Rodney this, oh Rodney that. And I was hoping he was our server. And he was! He kept the evening moving along, no one had to wait for anything. He asked us how we wanted things to come out to the table.

Ask for Rodney, server at 1Eleven Flavor HouseEverything Kaye

Okay my meal, this is a Caribbean themed restaurant, so I've had a lot of these dishes. I try to order things I've never eaten before. So I went with the lastest spin on a Philly Cheese steak sandwich, a Salmon Cheese Steak, grilled salmon, peppers, onions, Gouda cheese, tomato and mayo, on Pistolette bread. It was delicious! I was only able to eat half. I don't drink alcoholic drinks, but I did love one of the drinks I saw my dining group ordered. The TKO, it was light pink with a rose ice cube. It would be wonderful if restaurants would keep a couple bottles of non-alcoholic wine on hand for large dinner parties. Since half our group would be driving, most of us had water, which is free. If they would sell glasses of non -alcoholic wine or beer, they would make more money, and statisfy multiple palates. They could even sale the whole bottle to the table. Just a thought.

Salmon Cheese Steak sandwichEverything Kaye

Overall, I'm enjoying choosing outings through MeetUp, and the app has already expanded past the U.S. All experiences will be different, but you get out of it, what you put into it. Be safe and have fun! Follow me on Instagram for more photos and videos reels!

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Retired cosmetologist, writer, blogger, and local guide for Google Maps. I'll be sharing helpful stories, local happenings throughout Ohio. Including breaking news, and places to eat.

Dayton, OH

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