Getting into a scene as a beginner can be daunting. It is useful to know the different ways people find each other.
Munches are casual meetings of members of the BDSM community. They are often held in venues like pubs (sometimes booked out for privacy reasons).
Munches are notably "vanilla" events: meaning that no kinky activities happen there. Everyone is wearing everyday clothes and discussion will often not even involve anything kinky or sexual. Some will even have activities like board games as a focus to help break the ice.
Munches are a good way to meet a lot of new people at once. They are drop-in style meetings, so don't worry if you can't make one on time, or attend for the full meeting.
There are other kinds of event to meet people at, although munches are the tamest, most vanilla way to find people. These kinds of events will likely have an entry fee.
Many towns and cities have classes run by members of the community. The most common type of class is a rope class, in which people get together at a private venue
Play parties are events where kinky activities are allowed, and are performed by attendees. Some play parties will have a focus on a particular kind of play (e.g. rope) while others won't allow certain types of play (often medical or electric play - also some venues do not have a licence to allow public sex on the premises).
Parties are social events, and there is no obligation to play if you attend. Many people go just to socialise and watch, no one should make you feel like you need to get any more involved than that. Some parties will provide food and drink, sometimes including alcohol, but people drink very lightly because of the safety and consent implications of drinking and playing.
Different parties have different equipment, rules, and dress codes. It's normal to go to play parties just to socialize, but you will see play and people dressed up or down in various ways - asking previous attendees is a good way of knowing what to expect.
Many play parties are invite only, and require you to already be friends with people on the scene to attend. However many cities, the major ones especially, have big-enough communities to run public play parties.
Any reputable play party will have a set of rules that should be made clear to you and upheld. These rules will likely involve respecting peoples' consent and space. As a general idea of what to expect see our code of conduct page.