WiseWebWoman asked in the comments to the last post what a Sci-Fi meeting is like - I'll do my best! The Phoenix group here in Wellington is divided up into the main monthly meeting, which is held in a central Wellington venue, and Special Interest Groups, which include the Board gaming group, a video group, a writers' group, Bibliophiles (a book discussion group) and "PIG", which is a social get together, eat and chat group. The SIGs are mainly held in members' houses, rotating around the main members of the group.
NB - John and I go to the main meeting, Board and PIG, so I can't really comment on what happens in the other SIGs.
Since we've joined, I don't think there has been a "typical" main meeting. There have been presentations (on "sci-fi" weaponry which is being used or developed now; on the manned space missions); discussions (on "Speculative Fiction" and whether it is just another form of "Science Fiction" for people who don't want to be labelled as Sci-Fi writers); silly games (limerick writing; "20 questions" with a Sci-Fi theme), and, of course, the all important post Christmas pub get together and then last month the AGM.
PIG is very social, and seems (in my experience), to have the greatest turn out in terms of numbers. Everyone brings along food (there seems to be a baking challenge going on at the moment, with some fantastic cakes being created, and devoured!) and drink, and just generally chats. Conversations are wide ranging, and certainly not Sci-Fi limited.
The Board tends to run along the lines of everyone gathering over the course of half an hour or so; some bring along their evening meals to eat, and everyone brings snacks and drinks to share. After general chit-chat, we decide what games to play, depending on who is there, and what games have been brought along. Then we split into groups (there is usually enough people for two sets of games) and get playing. Usually a bit (or a lot...) of wine is consumed, and there is a lot of laughter and fun.
I think that the atmosphere is what typifies the various groups that we go along to. The tendency is towards openness, friendliness and a genuine welcoming attitude, whether the meeting is in a "paid for" venue, or in someone's home. There is a real community feel which comes with having a common interest (I also get this feeling with the orchestra, both here and back in the UK), even if this interest ends up being a the periphery of what we chat about during the course of an evening. I know that this warmth and acceptance has gone a long way in helping me to feel at home here.
I hope this has answered your question, WWW!