'Club Introvert' helps socially anxious Calgarians come out of their shell

With 1,000-plus members, a local meetup group is providing a safe space and laid-back atmosphere for the city’s socially anxious.

‘In our society, the loudest people win,’ says facilitator of popular meetup club

Darlene Flette and Andrew Neal at a Club Introvert meetup group at Higher Ground Cafe in Kensington. (Curtis Rowland/CBC)

A Calgary meetup group is providing a safe space and laid-back atmosphere for the city's socially anxious.

Club Introvert describes itself as a place for people to "make new friends and/or date others who think or act" like them.

Instead of going to a noisy bar or rowdy club, members get together several times a week at local coffee shops.

"The worst part about being a quiet person — especially if you're in a loud world — is you often get asked, 'Why are you so quiet?'," says Andrew Neal, who hosts the Tuesday meetup.

"I always like to say that there are better questions to ask if you want someone to talk," he said.

The only club rule is there is a cap on how many people can attend a single meetup.

"The reason is, basically, a lot of people who are socially anxious are socially anxious in large groups. And the smaller the group, the easier it is to kind of come out of your shell a little bit," Neal said.

Andrew Neal is the Tuesday host of a meetup group in Calgary for introverts. (Curtis Rowland/CBC)

Calgary's introvert club is popular

No more than eight introverts can sign up for a single meetup and the spots fill up fast.

Club Introvert has 1,251 followers and has already had more than 300 meetups since it was founded in 2014.

​Neal said the club exists to take the pressure off socializing in a world where extroversion is the norm.

"In our society, the loudest people win. They're dominant because they're more visible," he said.

Neal said there have been a few instances where people who are not really introverts show up.

But that only becomes a problem if they dominate conversations and get pushy.

"There have been people who have been kicked out of the group. It's very rare, but it happens. Most of the time it's [because they're] making other people uncomfortable. And that's really the one thing that we don't want."

Calgary's introvert club is for people who usually avoid people.

With files from the CBC's Curtis Rowland