So you want to host a meet-up for your local lolitas, but how does it work? I decided to write a small guide to the basics, mostly inspired by the guide I put together for Enfant Terrible. Crediting RipeZgy and Sakur too, as they both have written down some quite important advice! Note the original text was indeed a set of rules and that's why this post may seem strict, but trust me the points I´m making here are all crucial to avoiding the potential catastrophes where the host goes missing, attendees go missing, fun tiems go missing, cake goes missing or it starts to rain. or something equally horrible. You know, pick your favourite worst case scenario.
What is a lolita meet-up?
Simply put, it's a gathering of lolitas. Meet-ups are private occasions unless otherwise stated and can happen at somebody's home or at a public place such as a cafe or a convention.
Being the host, your most important concern is to make sure everyone's going to be and feel as safe as possible. Organize the first meet-up always at a public place so that the people attending can trust you to be safe as well. If possible you ought to also have at least some images of yourself available online. If no one knows who you are and you're trying to host a meet-up at your home you'll only end up looking creepy, true thing no lie.
If requested, you ought to also give the attendees your contact information, which preferably should be your phone number so that it'll be easy to reach you if something unexpected happens. You never know, it could be that there'll be a train strike just on the day of the meet-up and half of the people who wanted to attend cannot make it.
If you start talking about organizing a meet-up it's automatically considered your responsibility. You should not just tell people they ought to meet on day X and then after much hassle back out or start asking someone else to do all the work. Unless you actually have someone else who helps you organize the meet-up, you're the one in control and that's how it should be. Note this also means you cannot cancel going to your own meet-up unless you have someone else who agrees to shoulder it. If you can't make it to your own meet-up you have to cancel it - else you'll have a group of very confused and unhappy lolitas who likely won't be willing to attend your meet-ups ever again.
It's a good idea to have at least two people organizing a meet-up, so that possible illness etc. won't end up cancelling the whole party. The responsibilities of the organizer include keeping the meet-up thread informed of everything they need to know, set the theme of the meet-up if applicable, find a place for it and inform people of possible costs and schedules, arrive on the site before everybody else does and make sure everyone who agreed to come is there. Sharing the workload makes everything run smoother especially if the meet-up is a large one.
The meet-up needs to have a set place and time, maybe also an ending time. A meet-up could technically continue through the night but this is not necessarily advisable. It's also recommendable to have a meeting point, especially if there's a possibility that the people attending don't know where the meet-up place is. A meeting point can be any landmark that's easy to find (in Reykjavík it could f.ex. be Hallgrímskirkja, the front door of Kolaportið etc.). When the people have gathered there the organizer makes sure everyone on the list has arrived and if not, finds out why and whether the missing people are on their way or have cancelled. However, waiting for someone forever is unfair to the whole group so usually (especially if it's impossible to tell how long the missing ones are going to take) 10-15 min. is enough.
If the meet-up has an attending fee it's recommended that it's paid in advance. The organizer is naturally free to risk this and collect the money at the meeting place, but if someone cancels it's nearly impossible to get their attendance fee afterwards, and the organizer will then have to pay the missing person's part out of their own pocket. The organizer has every right to NOT return the attendance fee if there are cancellations, especially if the fee is meant to cover the costs of the meet-up. The organizer can also set a date which is the final limit of cancelling and still getting the fee refunded, if they choose to do so. However, no matter which the host chooses, they need to let the attendees know the rules before demanding anyone to pay the attendance fee because fair play is fair.
This one's a lot easier, so here goes. Show up in time. If the meet-up has a theme, follow it. There's no point in wearing OTT sweet to a meet-up that has a gothic theme; if there is no set theme you cannot be expected to necessarily even wear lolita. It's good to consider, though, that it might still dampen your own mood if everybody else is awesomely decked out and you're the only one wearing jeans and a tee.
If the host sets a minimum age limit and you're too young, it sucks but you really cannot come. Age limits are applicable for meet-ups that happen in places that won't even let you in if you're underage, so save your trouble: even if you tried you would probably not get in.
Some meet-ups have attendee number limits, especially if the meet-ups are arranged at someone's home. If you're not certain whether you can come to one of these meet-ups, do not reserve a place from it. You'll only take it away from someone else.
If you for some reason cannot come after all, cancel in time so that someone else gets the chance. If the cancellation is a last minute one you still do need to let the host know. If you do neither you'll only create a situation where the host calls and calls your name out at the meeting place and everyone will certainly know who to blame. If you cancel without a notice or a good reason, the host has every right to limit your chances of partaking in their future meet-ups and since situations like these are bothersome and embarrassing to the host it's very likely they also will. If there's an attendance fee it's up to the host to decide whether or not you're getting it back.
Respect the rules. The host has gone through a lot of trouble just so there could be a wonderful meet-up, so do things their way. If you didn't make it on the list, there's no excuse good enough that you could still crash the party. Not even if you're some attendee's friend, the host's friend or just loooooooove the fashion but were too busy/shy/whatever to sign up on the list. Sorry about that, better luck next time.
If the meet-up has a set ending time, respect that as well. The host may yet have to clean up the place or vacate it for someone else. You cannot expect to be allowed to stay afterwards unless, of course, previously agreed on with the host.
Behave. It may sound a bit silly and/or unnecessary to stress this, but seriously behave! You're wearing a frilly dress that's drawing a lot of attention and anything you do may be taken as a generic rule of how lolitas are. Besides that you're sure to make a lasting impression on everyone's mind, so it's possible you might be recognized as the floor-crawling loli even outside of wearing the style.
Other than this, the whole meet-up thing simply includes socializing with others who share your interest in J-fashions, often eating yummy foods and generally having a good time. If you only act considerate towards the others there'll hardly be a problem with anything at all - so have a wonderful time!