The London Python Code Dojo takes place on the first Thursday of every month. It starts at around 6pm with pizza, beers and like-minded mingling.
The common denominator certainly isn't skills or experience; it's interest in Python the programming language.
A recurring theme is to squeeze in quick talks (aka. presentations) before the actual coding starts. Who talks on what is quite arbitrary and it mainly depends on whether a participant has an urge to share something really cool that he or she is an expert in... or at least is an expert at looking into it.
Some talks are directly relevant to what the evening's coding will be about so that when the coding begins people will have a head-start based on what they learned during the talk.
The dojo programming concept
The "dojo" concept originates from a form of pair programming but with a constructively heckling audience. One person types the code, and another person sits next to him or her, guiding the coder as to what to do next. With an egg timer, the coder only gets about five minutes (sometimes less) to code and once the time is up, the next person from the audience takes over. It's very humbling to code in front of people. Even the most experienced coders get a form of stage fright when being up there.
Another common thing to do is to group up (about five people per group) and work on a given task for about 20 minutes. The task can vary from being the same task given to every group which is fun because it becomes a competition and people whisper their great ideas to each other to gain competitive advantage over the other groups. Alternatively, each group gets a task that is different from the other groups.
For example "This group adds a music beep on every step through the maze. That group makes it possible to save the maze game into a file". This is also good fun because it encourages a nice group feeling of helping each other helping all groups.
Most dojos end up with people trooping out together to the pub for a last beer or two to gossip some more about what just happened in the dojo or just chat some more about Python or the work that people are up to.
To predict attendance, tickets are sold for each event. They're free and are generally gone within an hour or two. The organiser, pizza orderer and beer purchaser is Nicholas Tollervey who does a great job of making it happen. The event is supported by fry, who pay for the beer and pizza and provide the venue for free.
"Without fry's continued support" says Nicholas, "the community organised London Python Code Dojo wouldn't be such a popular and sell-out event. Thanks!"
If you'd like to learn more about the London Python code dojo, see Nick's slides here.