Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome to My Club

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome to My Club

Article excerpt


Welcome to my club IF one totted up the dues and joining fees required to become part of London's membershipped class, the eventual amount would come to one of those preposterous statistics involving the GDP of some Third World country or the annual pre-tax profits of a blue-chip company.

Once there was the Groucho and 2 Brydges Place. Then came the Union and Soho House. And after that, well, the list is long and getting longer: Monte's, Teatro, Met Bar, Home House, Woody's, Adam Street, Harry's Social Club, The Embassy (at what used to be Legends), Stork.

The London membership scene has even spread to the Cotswold's where Babington House gives London's fashionable set somewhere to hang out with each other in the country. Everyone from Joel Cadbury (a member of the consortium that bought the Groucho) and Ronnie Wood, associated with a club in South Ken, wants to be a part of the membership boom. Even Oliver Peyton is toying with the idea of a club in the City, called Lothbury.

Although I have never yearned to hang out at the bar of the Groucho, I have to admit to being partial to the odd membership myself. If I am honest, like New members-only clubs are opening every week. They're expensive to join and packed with people you don't like.

So, why not save yourself the bother and turn your home into one instead?

Nick Foulkes tries it out many Londoners I am addicted to membership. Quite simply there is a gratification to be derived from belonging.

Being on the list, being greeted by name and served the "usual" bolsters the self-esteem in a way that only prescription medication can match. But in these straitened times, membership, like so many addictions, can become a little too costly.

And it is not just the fees and dues that hit you hard, it costs to eat and drink in these places, to which you have to add the rising price of a cab home at the end of an evening's revelry. However, a solution is at hand: with membership bars and rooms springing up everywhere from Clapham to Camden, there is the sense that anyone can turn their hand to the membership game, so I thought I might give it a try.

The idea of a membership club of one's own is seductive. For a start, the premises are not just the home-from-home that club proprietors are so fond of promising - they are, in fact, your home. Then there is the committee. This can be a potential hurdle, forever blocking membership applications and holding meetings to decide on club rules. Once again, when you knit your own club those old committee worries melt away - you are your own committee, approving your own membership or blackballing yourself, should the mood take you.

Once you have been approved by your committee, paid yourself a hefty joining fee (non-refundable, of course) and then set up a standing order to pay yourself your annual membership charges, you can begin to enjoy the many facilities of your new members' club. …

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