Founded by Geoff in 2005, the group started out with the name "Expat Europeans" and events were organized using Bay Area Linkup. Our inaugural gathering took place on November 13, 2005 at the Le Zinc restaurant in Noe Valley.
In May, 2007 the group was expanded to also be on Meetup, at which time its name was changed to "Bay Area Friends of Europe" (BAFOE) to better reflect its evolved goals and membership. In the summer of 2007 it was discovered that a Yahoo Group, BAFoE, had been using the same name since 2001. So the respective founders put their heads together and decided to form one "supergroup" with Meetup being used to organize BAFOE events and Yahoo Groups for bulletin board-style postings.
By 2008 BAFOE had grown to become the largest Euro Meetup group in the world and in 2009 it was the 8th largest Meetup of any kind in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To hear what some current members like about BAFOE, watch the video below taken at a BAFOE European Soirée held in October, 2007 in San Francisco. Note: no members were harmed during the making of this video although their features were a little distorted by the camera lens.
Are non-Europeans as well as Europeans welcome?
Yes! The aim of BAFOE is to be a place where Europeans and Europhiles –- people who have lived in Europe or have some other strong connection -- can meet and make friends, as well as where European expats can hang out with fellow European expats.
However, some events, such as European Expats Gatherings, are intended just for expatriate Europeans, their guests, and BAFOE regulars. Because BAFOE events usually fill up quickly, the idea is to have at least one event each month that people actually from Europe - especially newcomers - can easily get in to. In the U.S., people who were not born in Europe probably outnumber those who were by 200 to 1, so a little affirmative action is appropriate!
Expatriate European: someone now living in the U.S. who was born and/or raised in a European country. European neighbor countries (like Turkey and Iran) and former European territories are OK too. Expats can bring one guest each.
BAFOE Regular: someone who attends BAFOE events on a regular basis (usually at least once a month) and who has already been to at least three other events. Regulars are expected to "know the ropes" and help welcome newcomers.
Other events, such as Friends of Europe Soirees, are intended for both Europeans and Europhiles: friends of and from Europe! If you're still not sure which events will be best for you, please do not hesitate to contact the Organizer.
Where do the European members come from?
People RSVP'ing for European Expat Gatherings held in the first half of 2009 were asked the question "What is your country of origin?" Excluding 14% who said they were born in the United States, the breakdown was:
United Kingdom (10%)
Spain, Sweden, Other non-US (5% each)
Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine (4% each)
Ireland, Italy, British Commonwealth (3% each)
Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands (2% each)
Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey (1% each)
Albania, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Vatican City (0% = nobody yet!)
[Update: At a European Expats Gathering in April, 2013. Gender: 45% women, 55% men. Country of Origin: 33% France, Germany, UK or Russia, 40% Other European countries, 17% US, 5% British Commonwealth, 5% Other countries.]
What should I expect at events?
When you arrive at the event find the welcome table to receive your BAFOE name badge. The badge will be your passport to mingling.
You'll discover many friendly people eager to talk. Just dive in and mingle! (See mingling etiquette below.) Everyone is there like you to meet new people. All you need to do is introduce yourself. Sometimes clusters of people will form to chat together but that doesn't mean you will not be welcomed in to join the conversation. Newcomers are particularly welcome. Come on your own or with a friend. Drop in when you can and stay for as long as you want.
A wide range of people come to events: singles, couples, and all ages (20-somethings through to 60-somethings, with the majority in the 30 to 50 age range). Every event can be different, but usually about 25% are "hardcore" regulars, another 50% have been one or more times before, and the remaining 25% are newcomers. So there are always interesting new people to meet.
Dress code is smart casual. Some people like to dress up a bit but it's not essential. Checks are handled just like any bar or restaurant on an individual basis. You pay only for what you order. Often a group of people stay to have dinner together after the end of an event at the venue or a nearby restaurant, but this is entirely optional.
Are there membership dues or event fees?
There are no annual membership dues and no event fees for the regular soirees and gatherings. However, members are invited to contribute on an honor basis to the group's operating fund by making a small cash contribution at events. The suggested contribution is $1 per event. Special events - if any are held - may involve a special event fee.
You'll see a contribution box on the welcome table for your contribution.
There is a limit on the number of people venues can accommodate so everyone attending an event is required to RSVP. Please only RSVP YES if you are fairly confident that you - and your guest if you are bringing one - will be able to attend. Events are usually full, so if your plans change or your guest cannot come please update your RSVP as soon as possible so that someone else can come instead. Both you and your guest count towards the attendance cap.
If an event is full, you can add your name to a waiting list for automatic addition and notification when spots open up. There are often cancellations during the last 48 hours before an event.
See RSVPs and No-Show Policy.
One of the main goals of Bay Area Friends of Europe is to help people with a European affinity meet, talk and make friends. The key word is mingle. Mingle (verb): "to move freely around a place or at a social function, associating with others : over aperitifs, there was a chance to mingle with friends old and new."
The BAFOE organizer and ambassadors will help you connect with people who may have common interests or backgrounds but you are encouraged to introduce yourself to anyone at an event. It is enough to say for example "Hello, I'm X" and start a conversation about the flag on their badge. And at any point it is perfectly acceptable to say "It's been nice talking. I think I will mingle some more." Move around and meet as many people as you can! For further tips on the art of mingling, there is actually a book on the subject entitled "The Art of Mingling" by Jeanne Martinet.
Note to BAFOE regulars: it is of course easy and pleasant to hang out with people you already know but please make the effort to talk to new members and make them feel welcome. Otherwise the mingling police will come after you.
With high gas prices, as well as to minimize our carbon footprint, feel free to mention in your RSVP that you are interested in carpooling to the event from your specific town or neighborhood. Other members can contact you via Meetup by going to your profile and clicking on "send email". You can then negotiate the logistics directly with them.
Alternatively, sign up on a ride-sharing site. A BAFOE ride-sharing group has been created on the free site GoLoco.org. Click here to sign up and post your trips to events.
If inspired, you are welcome to bring along a digital camera and take pictures at events. It is always fun to afterwards see who was there. People at BAFOE events are fair game but please respect the wishes of the camera shy and photogenically challenged. Upload the image files to the BAFOE Photos page yourself or email them to the BAFOE Organizer for uploading.
Several long-time BAFOE regulars serve as "ambassadors" and try to make sure every newcomer is welcomed, oriented, briefed on event logistics and introduced to a few people to get their social mingling off the ground. Ambassadors also help with check-in and badges at the Welcome Table and can be identified by the title Ambassador on their badge and on member lists.
Subgroups have been set up for members who want to communicate and share information about specific topics. Subgroups currently exist for:
|Page title||Most recent update||Last edited by|
|Parking||March 31, 2014 3:50 PM||Geoff|
|RSVPs and No-Show Policy||March 30, 2014 10:34 AM||Geoff|
|How boules got cool||July 31, 2010 3:50 PM||Geoff|
|Venue Information||June 23, 2012 7:15 AM||Geoff|
|Petanque at BAFOE||April 5, 2011 10:38 PM||Geoff|
|Friends of Europe Holiday Party Edutainment!||November 28, 2008 4:49 PM||Geoff|
|About Bay Area Friends of Europe||January 31, 2014 4:26 PM||Geoff|