Opening hours. Traditionally GC’s (as I will henceforth call them) were in little demand at the weekend when members would return to the country. However the potential members of Clubs at the moment require their services largely during the weekends. Therefore any club that does not open fully at the weekend is fairly useless. Many don’t and justify this by stating they are booked for weddings and so forth. The very worst habit is pushing your membership out to make way for such events, the In and Out we were once made to sit in a ghastly business suite and fetch our drinks halfway across the building.
Drinks. Bars in private clubs should stay open at the weekends until the early hours. This will not attract drunkards but rather those avoiding drunkards. The prices of drinks should be the same or lower than those in a public house. Many wealthy Londoners join clubs such as Soho House to be able to do just this. Also I cannot see why at least one bar cannot be made a bit ritzy in a 20s/30s way. The hotels have wised up to this as have the newer membership clubs. A bit of glamour please, especially as the GC’s have the spaces and rooms to provide this with very little effort.
Membership. I am sure the committees of all these clubs want to preserve the atmosphere and tradition of their institutions but often do so in a stuffy and unfriendly way. Most clubs should be doing what the Fine Arts Club does to some degree with the Eccentric Club. Allowing smaller institutions to use a section of the club or have a certain time slot. It annoys me that they will rent the place out to anyone with the dosh but will suddenly become sniffy if someone from an associated club or who is a guest leaves their designated room or tries to have a look around. This is not the way to garner new members. Also these club rooms are fantastic, but empty they risk looking like room sets from a National Trust property. When the rooms are full, someone is plinking on the piano, others are holding forth and the wine is flowing these spaces become more decadent and stylish than any of the newer supposedly more bohemian establishments. Small clubs such as the Eccentrics or The New Sheridan Club should be asked to use the rooms on weeknights. The places need to be busy and full. Zoning is the way to deal with the varying demands of members not exclusion and rules a go go.
There are newer trendier clubs that people willingly pay a fortune to join so they can be jammed into a crowded room decorated by some post-modernist terrible iconic Swede and then drink with loud media types. The customers at Croydon’s Buddha Lounge are more stylish. But people turn up for the comparative privacy, the late drinking and the food on request. London’s old clubs knock the socks off them for décor, style, élan and character. But they are so morgue-like and they stop serving food at nine which is just plain uncivilised. They are overly quiet, lovely in a library or reading room. Horrid in a bar. If GC’s would just bite the bullet and provide the amenities they would be better used. Many are, in fact, even as they stand good value.
I personally believe in enjoying a variety of social environments ranging from dives and dark corners (the lamented Colony Room Club was a favourite) to the brittle and new. But ultimately being a good vintage chick the G.Cs do it for me every time. I’d much rather be a member of the Travellers than the Groucho. But the Travellers would never let me in…it’s the boobs you see. Makes all the difference….