At a series of dinner parties in Perth, Australia, there’s one rule: you won’t know any of the other guests. Everyone who wants to attend sends a Facebook message to the organizers, who do some background research to plan a guest list of eight strangers. The goal is to connect people who might not otherwise have talked–and help everyone who attends feel a little more comfortable meeting strangers in the future.
“We were lamenting that as adults, there aren’t many socially acceptable ways to make friends with strangers without people thinking that you’re hitting on them,” say the anonymous organizers of Stranger Danger Dinners. “I mean, if some random tapped you on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, let’s hang out, you look like my kind of people,’ your automatic response is not likely to be ‘Sure, here’s my address, see you at 7.'”
At each event, held at a restaurant rather than a private home, the organizers provide conversation cards if a group wants some help kicking things off. But the dinners don’t have hosts. Stranger Danger sees its role as picking the guest list and location and making people comfortable enough to try something new.
“We wanted to create a safe space where people can engage in meaningful conversation, and make new connections, knowing that they’re with a curated group of good people who are all in the same (terrifying) boat full of strangers,” they say.
While a Meetup group might also host dinners with strangers, the Stranger Danger groups have no known shared interests, and the groups are deliberately diverse in terms of age and background; in theory, you’ll talk with people you might not have gravitated towards before.
They’re hoping that the process might help attendees begin to rethink how they relate to other people in everyday life. “We believe that IRL ‘friending’ is a muscle that needs exercise,” say the organizers. “We’ve had awesome feedback from attendees that our dinners have made them more open to meeting strangers.”
Though the dinners are only available in Perth at this point, the Stranger Danger Dinners website sells a pack of conversation cards and instructions for anyone who wants to try hosting a dinner in another city.
[Photos: Shoshana Kruger Photography]