A club is an association of two or more people united by a common
interest or goal. A service club, for example, exists for voluntary or
charitable activities; there are clubs devoted to hobbies and sports,
social activities clubs, political and religious clubs, and so forth.
1.1 Origins of the word and concept
1.2 In Shakespeare's day
1.3 Coffee houses
1.4 18th and 19th century
2 Types of clubs
2.1 Buying club
2.2 Country or sports club
2.3 Fraternities and sororities
2.4 Hobby club
2.5 Personal club
2.6 Professional societies
2.7 School club
2.8 Service club
2.9 Social activities club
2.10 Social club
3 See also
Historical image of Pall Mall with the Carlton Club, describing itself
as the "oldest, and most important of all Conservative clubs.
Historically, clubs occurred in all ancient states of which we have
detailed knowledge. Once people started living together in larger
groups, there was need for people with a common interest to be able to
associate despite having no ties of kinship. Organizations of the sort
have existed for many years, as evidenced by
Ancient Greek clubs and
associations (collegia) in Ancient Rome.
Origins of the word and concept
It is uncertain whether the use of the word "club" originated in its
meaning of a knot of people, or from the fact that the members
“clubbed” together to pay the expenses of their gatherings. The
oldest English clubs were merely informal periodic gatherings of
friends for the purpose of dining or drinking with one another. Thomas
Occleve (in the time of Henry IV) mentions such a club called La Court
de Bonne Compagnie (the Court of Good Company), of which he was a
member. In 1659
John Aubrey wrote, “We now use the word clubbe for a
sodality [a society, association, or fraternity of any kind] in a
In Shakespeare's day
Of early clubs the most famous, latterly, was the
Bread Street or
Friday Street Club that met at the
Mermaid Tavern on the first Friday
of each month. John Selden, John Donne, John Fletcher and Francis
Beaumont were among the members (although it is often asserted that
William Shakespeare and
Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh were members of this club,
there is no documented evidence to support this claim). Another such
club, founded by Ben Jonson, met at the Devil Tavern near Temple Bar,
also in London.
Main article: Coffeehouse
Coffeehouse in London, 17th century
The word “club,” in the sense of an association to promote
good-fellowship and social intercourse, became common in England at
the time of Tatler and The Spectator (1709–1712). With the
introduction of coffee-drinking in the middle of the 17th century,
clubs entered on a more permanent phase. The coffee houses of the
Stuart period are the real originals of the modern clubhouse.
The clubs of the late 17th and early 18th century type resembled their
Tudor forerunners in being oftenest associations solely for
conviviality or literary coteries. But many were confessedly
political, e.g. The Rota, or Coffee Club (1659), a debating society
for the spread of republican ideas, broken up at the Restoration in
Calves Head Club (c.1693) and the
Green Ribbon Club (1675).
The characteristics of all these clubs were:
No permanent financial bond between the members, each man’s
liability ending for the time being when he had paid his “score”
after the meal.
No permanent clubhouse, though each clique tended to make some special
coffee house or tavern their headquarters.
These coffee-house clubs soon became hotbeds of political
scandal-mongering and intriguing, and in 1675 King Charles II issued a
proclamation which ran: “His Majesty hath thought fit and necessary
that coffee houses be (for the future) put down and suppressed,”
because “in such houses divers false, malitious and scandalous
reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of his
Majesty’s Government and to the Disturbance of Peace and Quiet of
the Realm.” So unpopular was this proclamation that it was almost
instantly found necessary to withdraw it, and by Anne’s reign the
coffee-house club was a feature of England’s social life. See
English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries.
18th and 19th century
The idea of the club developed in two directions. One was of a
permanent institution with a fixed clubhouse. The
clubs in increasing their members absorbed the whole accommodation of
the coffeehouse or tavern where they held their meetings, and this
became the clubhouse, often retaining the name of the original
innkeeper, e.g. White's, Brooks's, Arthur's, and Boodle's. These still
exist today as the famous gentlemen's clubs.
The peripatetic lifestyle of the 18th and 19th century middle classes
also drove the development of more residential clubs, which had
bedrooms and other facilities. Military and naval officers, lawyers,
judges, members of Parliament and government officials tended to have
an irregular presence in the major cities of the Empire, particularly
London, spending perhaps a few months there before moving on for a
prolonged period and then returning. Especially when this presence did
not coincide with the Season, a permanent establishment in the city
(i.e., a house owned or rented, with the requisite staff), or the
opening of a townhouse (generally shuttered outside the Season) was
inconvenient or uneconomic, while hotels were rare and socially
déclassé. Clubbing with a number of like-minded friends to secure a
large shared house with a manager was therefore a convenient solution.
The other sort of club meets occasionally or periodically and often
has no clubhouse, but exists primarily for some specific object. Such
are the many purely athletic, sports and pastimes clubs, the Alpine,
chess, yacht and motor clubs. Also there are literary clubs (see
writing circle and book club), musical and art clubs, publishing
clubs. The name of “club” has been annexed by a large group of
associations which fall between the club proper and friendly
societies, of a purely periodic and temporary nature, such as slate,
goose and Christmas clubs, which do not need to be registered under
the Friendly Societies Act.
The institution of the gentleman's club has spread all over the
English-speaking world. Many of those who energised the Scottish
Enlightenment were members of the Poker Club in Edinburgh. In the
United States clubs were first established after the War of
Independence. One of the first was the Hoboken Turtle Club (1797),
which still survived as of 1911. In former
British Empire colonies
like India and Pakistan they are known as Gymkhana.
The earliest clubs on the European continent were of a political
nature. These in 1848 were repressed in
Austria and Germany, and later
Vienna were mere replicas of their English
prototypes. In France, where the term cercle is most usual, the first
was Le Club Politique (1782), and during the
French Revolution such
associations proved important political forces (see Jacobins,
Feuillants, Cordeliers). Of the purely social clubs in
Paris the most
notable were the Jockey-Club de
Paris (1833), the Cercle de l'Union,
the Traveller's and the Cercle Interallié..
Types of clubs
Main article: Buyers club
Buyer's clubs or buying clubs are clubs organized to pool members'
collective buying power, enabling them to make purchases at lower
prices than are generally available, or purchase goods that might
otherwise be difficult to obtain. There are many legitimate buying
clubs – for example, food buying clubs – but many are unauthorized
credit card billing scams, in which a customer is induced to enroll in
a free trial of a buyer's club membership, and then unexpectedly
billed when the trial ends.
Country or sports club
Country club and
A print of the 1822 meeting of the "Royal British Bowmen" archery
There are two types of athletic and sports clubs, those organized for
sporting participants (which include athletic clubs and country
clubs), and those primarily for spectator fans of a team.
Athletic and country clubs offer one or more recreational sports
facilities to their members. Such clubs may also offer social
activities and facilities, and some members may join primarily to take
advantage of the social opportunities.
Country clubs offer a variety
of recreational sports facilities to its members and are usually
located in suburban or rural areas. Most country clubs have golf.
Swimming pools, tennis courts, polo grounds and exercise facilities
are also common.
Country clubs usually provide dining facilities to
their members and guests, and frequently host catered events like
weddings. Similar clubs in urban areas are often called athletic
clubs. These clubs often feature indoor sports, such as indoor tennis,
squash, basketball, boxing, and exercise facilities.
Members of sports clubs that support a team can be sports
amateurs—groups who meet to practice a sport, as for example in most
cycling clubs—or professionals -- football clubs consist of
well-paid team members and thousands of supporters. A sports club can
thus comprise participants (not necessarily competitors) or spectator
fans, or both.
Some organizations exist with a mismatch between name and function.
Jockey Club is not a club for jockeys; but rather exists to
regulate the sport of horseracing; the
Marylebone Cricket Club
Marylebone Cricket Club was
until recently the regulatory body of cricket, and so on.
Sports club should not be confused with gyms and health clubs, which
also can be for members only.
Fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities are social clubs of secondary or higher
education students. Membership in these organizations is generally by
Hobbies are practiced for interest and enjoyment, rather than
financial reward. Examples include science fiction clubs, ham radio,
model railroading, collecting, creative and artistic pursuits, making,
tinkering, sports, and adult education. Engaging in a hobby can lead
to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge, and experience. However,
personal fulfillment is the aim.
Personal Clubs are similar to Hobby Clubs. These clubs are run by a
few close friends. These friends or family members do things they like
to do together. They might even make a personal website for their
Main article: Professional body
These organizations are partly social, partly professional in nature
and provide professionals with opportunities for advanced education,
presentations on current research, business contacts, public advocacy
for the profession and other advantages. Examples of these groups
include medical associations, scientific societies, autograph club and
bar associations. Professional societies frequently have layers of
organization, with regional, national and international levels. The
local chapters generally meet more often and often include advanced
students unable to attend national meetings.
Main article: Extracurricular activity
These are activities performed by students that fall outside the realm
of classes. Such clubs may fall outside the normal curriculum of
school or university education or, as in the case of subject matter
clubs (e.g. student chapters of professional societies), may
supplement the curriculum through informal meetings and professional
Main article: Service club
A service club is a type of voluntary organization where members meet
regularly for social outings and to perform charitable works either by
direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for other organizations.
Social activities club
Officers Club, Palakkad, India.
Social activities clubs are a modern combination of several other
types of clubs and reflect today’s more eclectic and varied society.
These clubs are centered around the activities available to the club
members in the city or area in which the club is located. Because the
purpose of these clubs is split between general social interaction and
taking part in the events themselves, clubs tend to have more single
members than married ones; some clubs restrict their membership to one
of the other, and some are for gays and lesbians.
Membership can be limited or open to the general public, as can the
events. Most clubs have a limited membership based upon specific
criteria, and limit the events to members to increase the security of
the members, thus creating an increased sense of camaraderie and
belonging. Social activities clubs can be for profit or not for
profit, and some are a mix of the two (a for-profit club with a
non-profit charitable arm, for instance). The Inter-Varsity Club (IVC)
is the biggest British non-profit club.
Social clubs and Gentlemen's club
A Club of Gentlemen by
Joseph Highmore c. 1730
Some social clubs are organized around competitive games, such as
chess and bridge. Other clubs are designed to encourage membership of
certain social classes. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s social clubs
were the precursor name of gangs like the infamous Hamburgs of
Chicago. Latino immigrant adult and youth groups organized themselves
as social clubs like: Black Eagles, Flaming Arrows, Paragons and Young
Lords. Those made up of the elite are best known as gentlemen's clubs
(not to be confused with strip clubs) and country clubs (though these
also have an athletic function, see below). Membership to gentlemen's
clubs require the ability to pay large fees as well as an invitation
by existing members who seek new recruits who meet personal criteria
such as lifestyle, moral base, etc. Less elitist, but still in some
cases exclusive, are working men's clubs. Clubs restricted to either
officers or enlisted men exist on military bases.
Gentlemen's club is sometimes proprietary, i.e. owned by an
individual or private syndicate, but more frequently owned by the
members who delegate to a committee the management of its affairs,
first reached its highest development in London, where the district of
St. James's has long been known as "Clubland". Current
include Soho's Groucho Club, which opened in 1985 as "the antidote to
the traditional club." In this spirit, the club was named for Groucho
Marx because of his famous remark that he would not wish to join any
club that would have him as a member.
Childhood secret club
Club good (economics)
FILMCLUB UK network of after school film clubs
Gentlemen's Club (social clubs)
Probus Clubs cater for the interests of retired or semi-retired
professional or business people.
Users' group, a type of club focused on the use of a particular
technology, usually (but not always) computer-related.
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