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November 29, 2005 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Looking for Chicago geek group activities/social events that’ll get me out of the house.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that the reason I’ve not made many friendships in my time here in Chicago is that I’ve done little that exposes me to other people – thus, she pointed out (in a kindly way), it was quite logical that I wouldn’t have formed a lot of friendships or relationships, if my daily routine was work followed by going home to do relatively asocial activities that didn’t involve other people (such as television, going to movies, various things on the ‘Net).

The problem is, though, that I really feel the activity needs to generate some excitement in me even early on -- especially after a long day when I’m feeling more than a bit crashy, if I can’t really get excited about the activity in question, I usually can't muster up the motivation to get myself over there to whatever place in question. But if I'm looking forward to going there, that's a whole other story. No energy problems whatsoever.

So basically, I’m soliciting suggestions as to things that are of a geek-oriented nature. I understand that “geek” is sort of a wide net to cast, but hopefully it might serve as a good place to start for people, without limiting people to certain ideas.

I'm not mentioning any fields of personal interest, as I specifically don’t want to limit or guide responses, aside from the “geek” moniker. I’d rather get a diversity of responses and have a couple things catch my eye as real possibilities. But I should, however, note that at the moment, sports, either as watcher or participant, holds no interest for me.

But, to return to the opening: ‘geek’ kind of activities, in Chicago, that have me actually interacting with other human beings. :-)

Thanks to all, in advance, for your responses and your creativity.
posted by WCityMike to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
If you like old movies, there's an active group of likeable geeks who hang out after the show at the LaSalle Bank Cinema on Saturday nights. They even have a name, the Pointy Heads. (I run the projector out there.)
posted by goatdog at 2:15 PM on November 29, 2005

Hmmm...I asked a similar (but a bit broader) question awhile back and got some good responses.

There a few active posters here who run Gapers Block, and I know that group meets up frequently. GB also has a calendar of events that would be worth perusin'.

As for my dear sis, she's tried Craigslist with limited success and has been doing stuff as of late with a Yahoo group for new folks to Chicago. (Just for women.) She's also met some folks temping.
posted by Sully6 at 2:21 PM on November 29, 2005

Take a class at The Latin School?
posted by MeetMegan at 3:07 PM on November 29, 2005

When I was in Chicago, I checked out Chicago Dorkbot once. When I went, it was an interesting, friendly group of people, though I suspect free pbr helped out with that.

I dunno how much good it would be for meeting people; I went with a friend, and was only in the city for the summer, so I wasn't looking to make connections. Still, I could definitely imagine finding someone with similar interests and agreeing to work on a project together or something and going from there. The time I went there was a brief "introduce yourself" phase, and you could say a little about what you're interested in and maybe even make a specific mention that you're happy to help out with other people's projects. I suspect you'd get some hits that way.
posted by heresiarch at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2005

Oh, and good luck! It's definitely a tricky problem, and one I've largely avoided by staying in geeky school situations. I'm sort of dreading it once I hit the real world, and peruse these threads to boost my self esteem on that front. I really do hope it works out for you.

Also: I know you said finding motivation isn't a problem provided you're excited, but for me at least, I found that setting a plan and sticking to it, even if I was sort of tired from work, or it was raining or whatever, was helpful in making sure I didn't just revert back to sitting at home.
posted by heresiarch at 4:24 PM on November 29, 2005

Thanks to Sully6 for the GB mention. I'm a regular contributor to the site, and me3dia is the editor in chief. In addition to regular gatherings to which all are welcome, the site also sponsors readings and other events from time to time. Just last night we had a full house for a discussion of Chick-Lit at Women & Children First.

And depending on your level of geek, you might volunteer with Free Geek Chicago to help with the rehabbing of old computers, etc.

Lastly: Make sure you pick up the Reader every week. They devote a whole section to interesting goings on in the city.
posted by aladfar at 6:53 PM on November 29, 2005

On the dorkbot-ish tip, these guys are kinda similar. I've never made it out to any of the circuit-bending workshops, but I've seen (heard) some of their work and it's very cool.

Gaper's Block is also good, and the Reader is pretty essential, as mentioned above.

And, um, this is kind of embarrassing, but I hear about a ton of stuff on myspace. If you're on it, shoot me an email and I can help hook you up with zine-y events, crazy parties, and weird music (if you're into that, of course).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:26 PM on November 29, 2005

You haven't made it clear whether you want to meet other geeks, or non-geeks. Personally, I'm a closet geek who geeks out when alone but spends most of the time operating as a normal person with my (all non-geek) friends.

So, if you want geek friends, it's fairly simple and almost certainly enjoyable: start going to a regular LAN party, find your local Linux user group, hang out in video game arcades, look on the net for Chicago geek meet-ups.

If you want non-geek friends, try volunteering at your local soup-kitchen/community centre/charity shop, join a reading group, join a discussion group for any minority you may fit into (queer - this worked really well for me when I moved to a new city, or a particular race or faith etc.), go to gigs/shows, go to some sort of class (guitar lessons, life-drawing, SCUBA-diving). The key with these suggestions is to do something where you have plenty of opportunity to talk with people as you do something with them, but are also given an easy topic via the activity you are engaged in. For me, the tipping point was joining an political social centre - it meant I could spend a fair amount of time with people but we were all engaged in an activity, and friendships just formed. Stuff like a gig is harder because though you are sharing an activity with people (watching bands), there is no compulsion to talk.

Good luck!
posted by pollystark at 3:43 AM on November 30, 2005

For reasons not relevant here, I started taking dance classes, and discovered that ballroom dance (latin or standard) is a device that converts geek cognitive abilities into impressive-looking dancing. The dances are highly structured and modular like Lego, small individual movements that can be learned, then you fit them back together you like, and to everyone else, it looks like you're doing some pretty advanced dancing, because, well, you probably are :-)
They won't teach you this right away - they'll assume that the modular breakdown is too complex and so teach pre-assembled patterns of steps. But soon the geek in you will start to see the underlying logic binding the patterns, and deconstruct the patterns into their component parts, to be reassembled into your own patterns.

Plus, you know, dancers are hot :)

The downside is that the cost of lessons and classes adds up.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2005

Depending on the kind of geek that you are, you could start playing miniatures games like Warhammer. When I lived in the Twin Cities, I was in with a large group of guys that played every Thursday at a local game shop (Phoenix Games). I don't know of any specific places in Chicago, but I do know that there is a pretty large community of people that play there.

Since I moved to Seattle earlier this year, I've been struggling with some of the same stuff it sounds like you're going through. I'm working from home, so that makes it hard to get outside the house and meet anyone face to face if I don't force myself. When I get bored, I tend to just work more rather than doing something where I'll meet friends, something that I'm slowly figuring out isn't going to be sustainable.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 8:17 PM on November 30, 2005

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