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Ways to make friends: Offbeat events

If you’re the Brain or the Basket Case in your personal Breakfast Club, you can make friends with other eccentrics at these offbeat events.

By Rachel Sokol

Make friends at these quirky NYC happenings, where you can meet others who like to pose for paintings in the buff, know all the steps to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or are still waiting for an owl to arrive from the wizard school Hogwarts.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to how to meet new people in NYC

The Group that Shall Not be Named
Photograph: Ken Parry and Chris Tibaldi

The Group That Shall Not Be Named

Happily debate the finer points of casting a Patronus with the fellow Hogwarts wanna-bes in this nearly seven-year-old organization, one of the city’s largest Harry Potter meet-ups. The New York chapter regularly sponsors events such as discussion groups and viewing parties; members also mingle at wizard-rock shows (including the upcoming Yule Ball at the Bell House on December 15, 2012) and Quidditch tournaments held by other fan groups. • Locations and times vary; visit for details.

“I can’t tell you how many conversations with total strangers have started with, ‘So…what house are you?’”—Jennifer Levine, 29, publicist, Upper West Side

Social Exposure media events
Photograph: Tobias Batz

Social Exposure Media events

Break out of your cocktail-party comfort zone with one of this two-year-old group’s intimate “Naked Painting” soirees, where guests strip down to their birthday suits and decorate each other’s bare bodies. Founder Sally Golan devised the signature event as a way for the organization to garner attention and new members. For those not ready to drop trou in the name of friend-finding: Social Exposure’s other events throughout the year involve way more clothing but draw the same kinds of adventurous souls. • Locations and times vary; visit media for details.

“My experience as a guest was as unique as the concept itself. I embraced the freedom I felt as I was painted into
a work of fluorescent art.”—Jennifer King, 34, stylist, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Legacy of Love: Michael Jackson Fans United
Photograph: Shanda Holmes

Legacy of Love: Michael Jackson fans united

Nearly a year after the Gloved One passed away, megafan Iaisha Smith founded this club celebrating the superstar’s life and music. More than 200 members regularly attend MJ-related meetings, such as film screenings, dance parties and readings of his lyrics. December festivities include a King of Pop Karaoke Celebration (December 16, 2012 at 5pm). • Locations and times vary; visit for more information.

“I am so happy to be a part of a group who shares my love and devotion for Michael Jackson and who understands and lives for everything he stood for.”—Daniel Hernandez, 22, student; Elmhurst, Queens

Balls, Booze and Babes: A Lesbian Bowling Group

Balls, Booze and Babes: A Lesbian Bowling Group

Bring an arsenal of The Big Lebowski quotes if you plan on attending one of these casual sports Meetups. Founder Gena Hymowech, who began the group earlier this year, says the point of these get-togethers isn’t necessarily bowling; instead, she hopes to enable queer gals to socialize in a relaxed, low-pressure setting, whether they’re looking to spark a new friendship or something more. Members convene once a month to claim a few lanes at a local alley and chat over a few brews while doing their best to avoid gutter balls; mingle at the group’s next outing on December 15, 2012 at Bowlmor Lanes (110 University Pl between 12th and 13th Sts; 3pm). • Locations and times vary; visit for details.

Friendly Cigar Smokers of NYC

Friendly Cigar Smokers of NYC

Aficionado Bob DeRusso launched this chummy cohort two years ago to find other men and women over 21 who derive pleasure from a good stogie. Carnegie Club and Circa Tabac, two of the city’s few legal smoking establishments, serve as frequent meeting places for the monthly gatherings, where as many as 20 enthusiasts wax poetic about Macanudos versus Cohibas. Neophytes shouldn’t be shy; the elder statesmen of the group happily share tips on everything from proper storage to fancy smoke-blowing tricks. • Locations and times vary; visit for details.


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