Manhattan’s Best Exclusive Social Clubs

by Cheryl Yanek
What are social clubs? How are they different from dance clubs? Why should you bother going?

Clubbing in New York City can be exclusive, oh yes. There are so many great clubs...but it involves a lot.

Here's the information on the most exclusive of the best social clubs - and how you can get involved.

While some of the older exclusive social clubs are all about money, we're highlighting the ones that are also really fun.

What are social clubs? How are they different from dance clubs? Why should you bother going?

Clubbing in New York City can be exclusive, oh yes. There are so many great clubs…but it involves a lot. The dressing up, the lists, the lines, the waiting…but what about some really exclusive clubs – social clubs? Clubs where you need to be a member to get in. Clubs where you have to apply to be a member – often having to meet tough qualifying standards. Clubs where the focus is on socializing, eating good food, enjoying culture, meeting new people – versus dancing and drinking.

Here’s the information on the most exclusive of the best social clubs – and how you can get involved (or just envy those involved). While some of the older exclusive social clubs are all about money, we’re highlighting the ones that are also really fun.

SoHo House

29-35 9th Avenue

This members’ only club aims to create a community of like-minded creative individuals; more so than other social clubs, creativity is a must – it’s even in the requirements for membership. The SoHo House has hotel space, great restaurant, event space, rooftop, and club. It’s very exclusive, hard to get membership, but if you have a friend who is willing to let you in on their guest pass, you are a lucky one! Oh, and don’t take photos if you are a guest – they’re strictly forbidden. SoHo House is gorgeous, cozy, with friendly staff, and a must – if you can get an invite!


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Norwood Club

241 W 14th Street

“A home for the curious,” it’s called, and located in a gorgeous landmarked townhouse, this home is for the selection of the curious. Like most social clubs, there’s a membership process. The Norwood Club is geared towards artistic individuals, and the decorations and parties will definitely appeal to those with a creative, artistic side. The restaurant, terrace, and drinks are all lovely, but you need a membership (or a good friend with a membership) to enter. Members have access to workshops, shows, musical performances, comedy routines, great outdoor space, nice spot for brunch – and a way to be part of a great community. Members and visitors adore The Norwood alike.

Samagundi Club

47 5th Avenue

Another social club for artists, photographers, and sculptors, Samagundi Club also has the usual social club dinner, library, workshops, and pool table. But artist members have the opportunity to show their work periodically – and the club is occasionally open to the public for events.

The Yale Club

50 Vanderbilt Avenue

Sure, you need to be a graduate of Yale (or UVA or Dartmouth), but the Yale Club has tons of amenities. Like other social clubs, they have hotels. They do have a dress code (somewhat casual), but it’s a great place to join if you are an alumni. They have great dining options, including farm-to-table and rooftop dining. There’s a library and a lounge, and lots of nice art. Unlike a lot of other social clubs, there is a gym, sauna, and squash courts. They have social events, too.

The Dinner Lab

What? A food club. This club is a little different than some of the others – but still a very neat concept, so we’re sharing it with you. If you like to eat, are an adventurous foodie, and love being surprised, you’ll enjoy The Dinner Lab. Guests attend varying locations and get to share dinners with strangers – soon friends – and try amazing meals by up-and-coming chefs. Annual membership is $175 in New York, which gives members access to ticketed events.

The Grace List

Locations Vary

The Grace List is an interesting idea. What if we connected lots of fun, young, single people into one social club? The mission is focused on both networking and dating, and everyone has a lot of fun. There are great trips abroad, social events in New York City, and even houses in the Hamptons and Telluride. All applicants are personally vetted by the owner, and membership dues are over $1,000 a year.

Parlor

Launched by Harvard alum, Parlor claims to be influenced by three things: people, food, and technology. Parlor has great dining, event hosting privileges, visiting thought leaders, events, and really fun parties. There’s an in-person interview, and besides the $1500 annual dues, members have a quarterly beverage spend of $250.

So how do you decide which ones to get involved with?

First, what are you qualified for? If you need to be an alumni of a certain school, make a certain salary, travel a certain number of weeks per year, work in a certain industry, or have some other qualification, that will open up the options – and if you don’t, it will close them.

Next, what are your interests? Almost all social clubs focus on good food and wine as part of their social club. If you are interested especially in food, there are several social clubs focused on food. If you are an artist, or entrepreneur, or looking for a partner to date, there are groups focused on that.

All the groups have some sort of application process and/or fee. Check out the application. Talk to a few people who are members, and decide if they are the people you’d be interested in getting to know better. Would you want to introduce your friends to them? Where do you fit in?

Even if a social club is super exclusive, you want to feel at home there…or like you are aspiring to make it home!



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