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What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

by Megan Hayes

6am spin class, check. Smoothie with spirulina for breakfast, check. Outfit that projects confidence, check. Dry cleaning dropped off, check. Did I remember to post something relatable on social media? Yes? Ok, good, check. And so on and so on, until we finally turn the lights off 14 hours later, slip into bed and go to sleep.

If you’re like many of us, your day is a virtual to-do list of things you’re so caught up with crossing off, that you forget to schedule what Noria Morales, co-founder of the new, family-oriented members club called The Wonder in New York, refers to as “quality time.” She’s one of a group of entrepreneurs behind an influx of social clubs across the country, people who have seen the business opportunity in creating places set to provide you with whatever you seem to be missing in your day.

“People are tied to their phone and working so much, and they aren’t taking the time to plan what they’re doing for fun,” says Estelle LaCroix. As Managing Director, Lifestyle of The Britely—the hotly-anticipated, Old Hollywood-esque social club set to launch in Los Angeles in 2020—she’s happy to do that for you. Fancy a dip in a rooftop pool? A lazy afternoon watching a movie? A night spent getting down on the dancefloor? It’s all part of the perks of being one of the 1,600 members at The Britely. There’s even a community manager if you’re not as quick to connect.

“What makes these new social clubs different from those that have come before them is that they are curated around common interests (wellness, family, a great party).”

On the flipside, maybe you’re already booking in time for fun, but between your extracurriculars and work, you’re burning the candle at both ends. Those lacking in balance will find it at The Well, a members club located in New York’s Union Square that’s focused, as the name suggests, exclusively on wellness. “People are busier than ever and they are stressed out, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived,” says Co-Founder and CEO Rebecca Parekh. Formerly in finance on a trading desk, she can certainly relate. With The Well (set to launch next month), she aims to help others “simplify their path to a healthier, more balanced life” by putting everything under one roof.

Now, the idea for a social club isn’t new (just ask the team behind Soho House), but it’s certainly needed now more than ever. Not only are we all so chronically “busy” lately, but we’re also more starved than ever for connection. According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Newport Beach, California, we’re an increasingly mobile workforce, working remotely more often that we used to. Church attendance is down. We’re doing virtual fitness classes instead of getting to the local gym. And though we’re a generation that’s constantly on social media, that online connectivity isn’t a replacement for what we experience in person. “We are not digital beings,” Rutledge explains. “Whenever possible, people will look for opportunities to take meaningful relationships offline.” What makes these new social clubs different from those that have come before them is that they are curated around common interests (wellness, family, a great party). And they seem to have come just in time, just as we’ve started to see our to-do lists for what they truly are, and just as we’ve realized we can’t find everything we need through a screen.

We’re all familiar with veteran Soho House (around since 1995, and now boasting 23 locations around the world) and newer-but-not-new Neuehouse (the incredibly refined workspace which first debuted in New York in 2013). Meet the fresh crop of social clubs, each with its own application and acceptance process, popping up across the country.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

The Wing

More than simply a set of WeWorks without the guys, this series of female-only working spaces is all about community. Sure, you can post up with a laptop in one of their sorbet-hued common rooms and get your work done. But you can also attend a variety of cool events like “Prenup 101” and broaden your network of interesting women over golden lattes.

Open Since: October 2016
Located: Across the country (with the newest location in Boston), and soon-to-be international in London
Notable Amenities: Bookable conference rooms, showers (with robes!), an in-house cafe boasting a seasonal menus, free drip coffee and pump rooms.
Annual Dues: $2,350 for single location access or $2,700 for access to all locations
Perfect For: Women who get more done without the distraction of men and those who want to network with other women—and maybe even make some new adult friends.

San Vicente Bungalows

“Privacy is the new luxury” at Jeff Klein’s Bungalows. The man behind Tower Bar Hotel has given a once-seedy, clothing-optional motel a serious upgrade, with an uber-exclusive complex of nine Craftsman bungalows that includes a restaurant, a series of impeccably-decorated dining rooms and bars, and a plunge pool—everything oozing a retro cool. Guests (think: Armie Hammer, Steven Spielberg and Tracee Ellis Ross) surrender their phones at the door to have them returned with a house sticker over the camera lens.

Open Since: October 2018
Located: West Hollywood
Notable Amenities: A staff that remembers the details, ie: your favorite drink and how you like it, as well as a private screening room with chic aquamarine-colored chairs. (And likely several other amenities that remain undisclosed.)
Annual Dues: $4,200 for members over 35
Perfect For: Hollywood elite who really want to turn off—without having to worry that someone’s turning a camera on to snap their picture.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

The Wonder

If “fun for the whole family” seemed like the impossible dream for parents suffering through the likes of ball pits and pizza parties, this 8,000 square foot space and its floor-to-ceiling windows, elegant architecture and Pierre Paulin Osaka couches, promises to make that a chic reality. Co-founders and fellow moms Noria Morales and Sarah Robinson have thought of everything, from a nursery complete with organic diapers to a grown-up’s-only workspace (the only room cell phones are allowed) and a family-friendly cafe that also serves wine.

Open Since: May 2019
Located: Tribeca, New York
Notable Amenities: Stroller detailing powered by Dyson and a 1,500 square foot play space whose decor changes seasonally (it’s currently all about rockets).
Annual dues: $5,400 per family (plus one caretaker)
Perfect For: New York parents struggling to schedule in quality time with their kids—and who want a space everyone thinks is cool.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

The Sentry

Today’s most social New Yorkers prefer their partying with a dose of wellness, something they’ll find at this new members club located atop the American Copper Buildings in Murray Hill. The rooftop pool will be home to a series of well-curated parties (founder Aidan Walsh worked closely with the Bagatelle Group in the South of France and surely knows how to host a good one) as well as sunrise yoga and astronomy sessions.

Open Since: May 2019
Located: Murray Hill, New York
Notable Amenities: Incredible 360 views of downtown Manhattan and a lineup of big-name artist performances free to members.
Annual dues: Tiered dues range from $1,600 (Silver) to $3,200 (Copper) for the summer season
Perfect For: New Yorkers who love a great party—and an even better view.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

The Well

Billed as an “ecosystem for wellness,” this 13,000 square foot, two-story space aims to make it easier for New Yorkers to prioritize their health by putting everything they need all in one very thoughtfully-designed place. There’s an all-white, incredibly zen meditation room, a private-training gym, a reflexology lounge and a seasonally-inspired restaurant with its own apothecary.

Open Since: Set to open July 2019
Located: Union Square, New York
Notable Amenities: A roster of best-in-class practitioners across a range of modalities (from sports medicine to Chinese medicine), including Dr. Frank Lipman as Chief Medical Officer.
Annual dues: $4,500
Perfect For: Overly-busy, stressed-out New Yorkers who don’t have time to run around the city to check off their various wellness boxes.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

The Britely

With its lacquered walls and animal print upholstery, this ode to Old Hollywood glamour isn’t the kind of place you can envision typing away on a laptop—and that’s exactly the point. Envisioned as a club that captures the soul of Los Angeles (see: Wolfgang Puck behind the menu and programming that celebrates a sense of community), The Britely caters to the type of crowd that’s got too much work and not enough play, people who want a place to escape where having a good time is baked into the experience.

Open Since: Set to open 2020
Located: West Hollywood
Notable Amenities: Michelin-starred food, a bowling alley, a music venue, a rooftop pool and a 24-hour gym.
Annual dues: $2,800, with a 30% discount will be given to those under 30 years old
Perfect For: Creatives who don’t want to just rub shoulders with other creatives (the club is aiming for members across all industries) and those who already have a desk.

What We’re Talking About Now: The Rise of Social Clubs

Spring Place

If the next generation of innovators is going to share a workspace, they’re going to do it here, where a boutique-style experience and a sleek, mid-century modern vibe are designed to draw a smarter, more sophisticated crowd than you might find elsewhere. Both locations are also cultural hubs for local industries (the Manhattan location shares space with Spring Studios—home to NYFW and the Tribeca Film Festival—while Los Angeles is already a destination for art aficionados and celebrities).

Open Since: 2016 (New York)
Located: Downtown New York and most recently Beverly Hills
Notable Amenities: For work, there are temporary showrooms, executive boardrooms, insulated booths for private calls and tech support. For socializing, the new LA location has a rooftop bar and outdoor terrace, while the Tribeca location boasts a rotating list of dining pop-ups such as Caviar Kaspia and a private screening room.
Annual dues: Starting from $2,500-3,000 (depending on your location) for a community membership to $15,000 for a resident membership that includes your own desk.
Perfect For: Culture shapers and professional independants looking for a streamlined workspace with social perks.

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