Definitions

slate club

Club

[kluhb]

A club is an association of 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.

History

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 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 meetings. The oldest English clubs were merely informal periodic gatherings of friends for the purpose of dining or drinking together. Thomas Occleve (in the time of Henry IV) mentions such a club called La Court de Bone Compaignie (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 tavern.”

In Shakespeare's day

Of early clubs the most famous was the Bread Street or Friday Street Club, originated by Sir Walter Raleigh, and meeting at the Mermaid Tavern. John Selden, John Donne, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont were among the members (although it is often asserted that William Shakespeare was a member of this club, there is no documented evidence to support this claim). Another such club, supposedly founded by Ben Jonson, was that which met at the Devil Tavern near Temple Bar, also in London.

Coffee houses

See main article at Coffeehouse

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 later 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 1660, the Calves Head Club (c.1693) and the Green Ribbon Club (1675). The characteristics of all these clubs were:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

18th and 19th century

The idea of the club developed in two directions. One was of a permanent institution with a fixed clubhouse. The London coffeehouse 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 declasee. 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; and the name of “club” has been annexed by a large group of associations which fall between the club proper and mere 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.

Worldwide

See also: List of American gentlemen's clubs

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.

The earliest clubs on the European continent were of a political nature. These in 1848 were repressed in Austria and Germany, and later clubs of Berlin and 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

School clubs

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 mentoring.

Professional societies

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, 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.

Service clubs

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 clubs

Some social clubs are organized around competitive games, such as chess and bridge. Other clubs are designed to encourage membership of certain social classes. 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). 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.

The modern gentlemen's club, 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 London clubs 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.

Social activities clubs

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 cameradery 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 one.

Country clubs, athletic clubs, and sports clubs

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. The Jockey Club is not a club for jockeys, but rather exists to regulate the sport of horseracing; the 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 are social clubs of secondary or higher education students. Membership in these organizations is generally by invitation only.

References

See also

  • Childhood secret club
  • 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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