More and more, Orlando is a hub for college-aged people and 20-somethings to create social change. Both at UCF and in the larger Orlando area, many groups are planning events to create positive impacts and to focus on the areas of culture, health and sustainability, and those groups are a great place to encounter like-minded folk. Of course, shaking your booty, scarfing some ribs, rolling the dice or downing a cocktail are fun ways to make new friends, too.
Monthly party and community events, multiple locations, bodytalkparty.org
At this underground party, you can find Orlando's young movers and shakers – in both senses. People gather with the purpose of creating meaningful connections with others whose minds are set on personal and community growth, and enjoy self-expression through dance and conversation. Body//Talk focuses on breaking the ice in a low-key way.
Dandelion Communitea Café
618 N. Thornton Ave., dandelioncommunitea.com
In the Mills 50 area, Dandelion hosts regular community events that foster a sense of family and sustainability in Orlando. People can attend recurring open mic nights, openings for local artists presenting their work, full moon drum circles, and meet-ups for local thinkers and community organizers interested in making Orlando more sustainable. Dandelion is also a vegan restaurant that has delicious dishes that use locally grown ingredients.
Latin Rhythm at UCF
UCF Student Union, 12715 Pegasus Drive, facebook.com/groups/latinrhythmatucf
You can join this college-run group to take salsa and bachata lessons 9-11 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday even if you're not a student. The club hosts a yearly spring showcase at the Venetian Ballroom on East Colonial in April, which sees about 300 attendees made up of college students, Orlando dancers and professional dancers from out of town.
Members of this spoken-word club aim to create a safe space where people can express themselves. Project SPIT hosts two organizational meetings each month on the UCF campus, several open mic nights, and literary events where they invite local published poets to speak about how to make an impact on a larger community as a spoken-word artist.
The Geek Easy, 114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, orlando.nerdnite.com
Branded as an "edutainment" staple in Orlando by Orlando Weekly, Nerd Nite's monthly drink-and-think meetup is the perfect place to meet others who share your specific interests. After 18-20 minute presentations on science, tech, culture and other "nerdy" topics by experts, the floor is open to Q&A as people imbibe in a laid-back atmosphere.
ReThinking the City
1001 N. Orange Ave., facebook.com/rethinkingthecity
This monthly community event in downtown Orlando brings together local and national leaders to speak about how to create positive change in Orlando. Speakers range from students, artists, and engineers to out-of-town activists and urban planners, and topics range from transportation to arts to service. After the presentation, the floor is open for discussion.
Cloak and Blaster
875 Woodbury Road, cloakandblaster.com
The self-proclaimed "gaming pub for geeks" has a bar and a full menu – of food and of games. Gather 'round and whip out a good old role-playing game, check out the monthly Bards at the Bar cosplay karaoke night, or test your nerd knowledge on Thursday Geek Trivia Nights.
Orlando Museum of Art
2416 N. Mills Ave., omart.org
OMA features more than just art exhibitions throughout the year – there are fun parties, classes and programs for all ages. Check out the museum on the first Thursday of every month for 1st Thursdays, a see-and-be-seen event showcasing local artists alongside DJs, drinks and hors d'oeuvre.
Food Truck Bazaar
Various locations in Central Florida, thedailycity.com
Check the Daily City's website for the locations and schedule, but wherever the Bazaar is, you'll find a gathering of more than 20 food trucks most Fridays of the month, and you can bond with new pals over a mutual love of mobile meals. Bring cash and a chair, just in case.
The Courtesy Bar, 114 N. Orange Ave., thecourtesybar.com
On the first and third Saturdays of each month at 5:45 p.m., learn to shake things up in a cocktail shaker and in your social life. Admission of $55 covers materials for three full-sized DIY cocktails. (Use a ride-hailing service, please!)