For some, bitcoins, snorkeling, drones and pub crawling are more than just hobbies. Call it passion, or whatever, but likeminded enthusiasts are banding together on Meetup.com to discuss and pursue what drives them.
To do our part in the social universe, we’ve mined the extensive list of local meetups to pick out these 10 not-so-hidden gems that are creating some laughs while leaving a social impact.
North Texas Drone Users Group
With the drone industry rapidly advancing, Chad Averhart wanted to organize a group where likeminded people could share experiences, job leads and tech tips while having fun. Drones are used in many ways, he says, including cinematography, aerial photography, inspections, real estate, search-and-rescue operations, and farming.
“I thought this would be a great way to better inform the public and improve the negative reputation that drones initially had,” he says.
Averhart, who describes himself as a military intelligence veteran and technology enthusiast, says members get together to fly, socialize and have fun, but they also host drone-building classes, drone races, certification classes and more. Sometimes, the group is called upon for animal search-and-rescues or to attend special events. It even set a Guinness World Record in June for the most human-piloted drones airborne at once.
“It was incredible to see so many drones in the sky at once,” he says.
The meetup’s beginner classes, where new pilots and drone owners mix with more experienced pilots, are memorable, Averhart says.
“Some even unbox their drones for the first time during the meetup,” he says. “Everyone is flying by the time it's over. It is always a good feeling to see so many smiling, excited faces by the end of the day.”
Dallas Indie Film
An indie film meetup was a natural for Dallas because of its “embarrassment of riches as far as arthouse cinema go,” organizer Tom Smith says.
“We've got something like five or six multiscreen theaters that show nothing but indie, foreign and documentary,” he says. “For the most part, anything cool that comes out, Dallas one way or another gets it.”
The group generally goes to watch a film then eats somewhere afterward. It meets once a week, and Smith says it also hosts a monthly CineMike series with a double feature at a house owned by someone named Mike that has a giant screen TV and a dozen or so leather recliners.
“We're not the kind of film meetup where anyone gets together to discuss the craft of film or making a movie,” he says. "It's a good group. Often people would drop out for a while, and then you don't see them for a couple of years. And they would come back into the fold sometimes, surprised to see we're still around.”
Smith loves the fact that the 2,600-member group is made up of film buffs interested in indie cinema. “There's a lot to see in this area,” he says.
The Cosmic Café is not just a seriously zen place to grab a bite from a meatless menu. Beginning and experienced meditators also meet upstairs for weekly sessions at the eatery at 2912 Oak Lawn Ave.
The group experiments with meditations across the globe from 6:15-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays during Meditation as Play.
“Come dressed to move both physically and into the unexpected,” the Cosmic Meditations group description reads. A $5 donation is optional.
Laughing yoga, radiant yoga and Hatha yoga sessions are also offered, and from 10-11 a.m. Sundays, the meditation goes dynamic.
“Breath, jump, scream and shout. Let it all go. Then be in the bliss of silence and stillness,” the description reads. “Finish with dance of celebration, and be different.”
North Texas Outdoors
North Texas Outdoors is an 11,000-member group with events such as rock climbing, camping, hiking, kayaking, cycling, canoeing, spelunking and more. A few post-Christmas activities include backpacking along the Ozark Highlands Trail and exploring the Cross Timbers.
Scott Light has been a member of North Texas Outdoors since it began in 2010. He says the group was originally formed for likeminded backpackers but morphed into a more well-rounded group.
“The strength of the group is we are truly member led,” he says. “Any member can suggest an event and put it on our calendar. We've always rejected top-down management setup and prefer to have our events happen organically through the group.”
Dallas Bitcoin is a group of 1,400 bitcoiners who meet to socialize and talk bitcoins, blockchains and cryptocurrencies. According to its Meetup page, they also hope to encourage local merchants to accept bitcoins and trade with them.
The group formed in 2012, shortly before the Dallas Observer reported that the Big D scored its first bitcoin ATM machine. And with Forbes declaring that 2017 will be remembered as the Year of the Bitcoin, before long, the search for bitcoin merchants may not resemble the hunt for Pokémon.
DFW Motherless Daughter Meetup
Eileen San Diego was 36, was new to North Texas and didn't know who to turn to for support when her mother died 10 years ago. She says she felt hopeful after an online search led her to the DFW Motherless Daughter group, which she now organizes.
“I was able to express my grief without feeling awkward,” she says. “I no longer felt alone. Knowing that I had a support network was uplifting and helped with the healing process.”
In addition to the monthly meetup, the group hosts a Thanksgiving potluck at a member's house and a picnic at a park the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
San Diego’s father died this month, and the group is providing support.
“I was touched to learn that several members from the group will be attending my father's wake and funeral in my hometown of Wichita Falls this weekend,” she says. “Although the name of the group implies that it's about the mother, my friends are supporting me because of my father. That's how important this group is.”
Tech in Motion
Through partnerships with Techweek, Dallas Startup Week, Tech Pop and others, Lindsay Lewis has organized more than 20 events for the Tech in Motion Dallas group.
“Every event brings out new faces and stimulates new conversation,” she says.
The meetup’s topics, speakers and venues change along with technology, Lewis says, but blockchain is currently on the rise in more traditional, secure industries.
“Blockchain-based startups as well as teams dedicated to utilizing this environment are popping up across industries,” she says. “Artificial intelligence and automation, in general, are also huge, impactful technology breakthroughs that will be revolutionizing a lot of industries.”
The Dallas TIM meetup has nearly 2,000 members. Lewis says there are 10 other Tech in Motion groups across the nation.
“I hope every member walks away from every event with more quality connections, knowledge and fresh information than they walked in with,” Lewis says. “Plus, it’s free.”
Fellowship of Freethought
Organizer Zachary Moore says most people join this meetup because they’ve given up on the religion they were raised with or are looking for likeminded people to socialize with.
Fellowship of Freethought’s central activity is a monthly gathering featuring a TED-style talk and potluck lunch at Walnut Hill Recreation Center.
“These gatherings always spark great discussions and cover such topics as morality, history, science and how we find meaning in our lives,” he says.
The group, which is active in charity outreach and a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, also hosts regular pub nights, game nights and a regular motorcycle ride, Moore says.
“Our most recent memorable event was collaboration with Seth Andrews, a very popular atheist broadcaster, who worked with us to celebrate his 300th show,” he says. “We brought in some national speakers and musicians, and the whole thing turned out to be a mini conversation right here in Dallas.”
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
DFW Social Media Marketing
The DFW Social Media Marketing Group’s goal is to keep members informed and give them a competitive edge.
The group doesn’t just gather to sell each other stuff, according to its meetup page. It is made up of entrepreneurs, consultants, social media managers and other professionals who help improve the social media strategies of the group’s nearly 2,000 members through info-packed sessions.
The meetups are the third Monday of each month (except November and December) at the Plano Improving campus. A $50 annual VIP membership gets express entry to all meetings, pizza, drinks and a VIP membership badge. Members can also pay as they go for $7 per meeting, which includes the session, pizza and a drink.
Dallas Cycling Trail Riders and Weekend Pub Crawler
This group of people mostly 40 and older meshed cycling with pub crawling because they wanted to combine something they love with a social outing. The meetup’s leisurely to moderately paced rides, which take place on all types of paved trails and lake roads, happen a few times a week and typically last an hour or two, according to the meetup page. The pub crawls stretch along McKinney Avenue, Knox-Henderson Avenue and Greenville Avenue.
The dual-purpose group, which also camps, hikes, kayaks and travels, has a Christmas Lights Ride planned for Dec. 23.