They say "birds of a feather flock together" - but we flightless humans have the Internet to help us soar and find people out there with similar interests.
MeetUp.com has dozens (and dozens) of Long Island-based groups that plan in-person get-togethers for dancing, dining, card-playing and almost anything else one might imagine. Here are just a few of the currently active groups.
HUSTLE DANCERS: meetup.com/hustle-dancers
Who's in the group: Mostly women - many old enough to remember the original disco days.
Organizer: Angelina Capalbo, 29, West Babylon
Benefits: "I started this group because I love to dance, especially hustle," says Capalbo, a freelance business consultant. But it wasn't so easy to find places to go out and do it - or fellow hustlers to partner with. "What I truly love about hustle is that it can be danced to modern dance music," she says.
YOUNG. BROKE. FABULOUS!: meetup.com/youngbroke-fabulous
Who's in the group: Women 21-30 years old who are recent college graduates or young professionals
Meets: At least 3 or 4 times a month for free concerts, movies or get-togethers at restaurants, bars and coffeehouses.
Organizer: Ashley Balz, 24, Lindenhurst
Benefits: Although the group's name suggests a level of frugality in keeping with the economy, Balz says it's more of a declaration that fun will be had by these gals, whether it's well-funded or not. Fresh out of college and working in a small office as a social worker, Balz says "it was quite hard" to meet other people her own age. She struck up new friendships through the group and now enjoys coordinating its get-togethers. Still, "meeting new people can be nerve-racking," Balz concedes, so she makes an extra effort to curb the intimidation for group members.
Who's in the group: Mostly single and married women ages 20 to 60-plus, though men are welcome
Organizer: Betty Philipp, 54, Wantagh
Benefits: These Long Islanders share a love of the arts - literature, foreign movies, performances - and meet to, say, check out a new exhibit at a local museum or watch a foreign film. Philipp, a pension specialist, says she plans to broaden the scope of interest this year by planning events involving nature walks, meditation and other active pursuits.
GIRLS ONLY POKER GAME: poker.meetup.com/1618
Who's in the group: Women, ages 30- to 60-plus
Meets: Monthly at the organizer's home
Organizer: Elana Rosof, 41, Huntington
Benefits: "It started mostly as a bunch of beginner poker players, where we could feel comfortable asking each other 'which is better - a straight or a flush?' " says Rosof, a clinical psychologist. Now the group has members of all skill levels who play low-stakes, just-for-fun tournaments. The ladies-only environment has encouraged bonding and livelier conversations about dating and relationships. Besides, she says, "men don't seem to have a problem forming their own poker games."
THE LONG ISLAND HORROR MOVIE LOVERS MEETUP FOR SINGLES: meetup.com/longislandhorrormovieloversmeetup4singles
Who's in the group: Still forming, but more men than women right now
Will meet: First get-together planned for Feb. 18 at a bar in Huntington
Cost: No membership fee
Organizer: Justin Woodwell, 30, Syosset
Benefits: It's hard to find love when your passion is horror films, says Woodwell, a freelance writer and graphic designer. "I'm tired of perusing various dating Web sites looking for girls with even remotely similar interests." He's formed this still-fledgling MeetUp group hoping to unite those who enjoy this genre for conversation - and, yes, potential romance.