Went to my first M* retreat 7 years ago. Didn't know a soul, except through the forum. Had a great time, met may lovely, new freinds, and have gone back annually for our Fall Forum Retreat. Since you are a forum member, you should consider joining us for that one. It is considered a private retreat, so it will never be listed on the EventBrite site. It is however available through here, if you are a forum member.