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What Is a Social Club?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Cover pic for article What Is a Social Club

Table of Contents

About the Author - Dr. Angela Caveney


Introduction

When you think of a social club, what comes to mind? Do you imagine rich men hanging out in stuffy bars smoking cigars and sipping bourbon? Or, perhaps your mind turns to country club life with moms sipping cocktails poolside as the children play and dad golfs.


Because of their historical roots as gathering places for the wealthy and influential, many of us believe that social clubs are not meant for "people like us."


However, in today's context, many social clubs have evolved to be more inclusive, catering to various interests and demographics. Social clubs are no longer just for the privileged few.


So, what exactly is a social club in the 21st century?


In this article, I'll review the definition of a social club, and discuss what sets them apart from other social gatherings from my own perspective as the founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club.


Definition of a Social Club

Wikipedia broadly defines a social club as a club based around a common interest, activity, or profession. This definition encompasses a wide variety of social clubs, from sports and hobby clubs to professional associations and networking groups.


The Cambridge Dictionary defines a social club as a place with a bar and entertainment for people who have paid to become members. (Leave it to the British to require a bar to meet the definition of a social club.)


The Trybe's definition of a social club is that of a community in which every member feels seen, that they belong and that they have a chance to both grow as well as to contribute meaningfully to the group. 


History and Evolution of Social Clubs

Social clubs have a rich history that dates back centuries. The origins of these exclusive gatherings can be traced to the gentlemen's clubs of 18th century London, where affluent individuals came together to discuss politics, business, and socialize. These clubs provided an escape from the constraints of society and offered a space for like-minded individuals to connect and network.


As time went on, social clubs evolved to cater to various interests and demographics. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, women's clubs emerged, providing women with a platform to engage in intellectual pursuits, philanthropy, and activism. Similarly, ethnic and cultural clubs were formed to celebrate and preserve cultural heritage.


Today, social clubs encompass a wide range of interests, from golf and tennis clubs to arts and music societies to clubs such as The Trybe that are organized around a common experience (such as coping with empty nesting) and set of shared core values.

The definition of a social club varies depending on the type of club

Types of Social Clubs

There is almost no limit to the possible types of social clubs. They come in all forms, catering to different interests and demographics. Some of the most common types of social clubs include sports clubs, hobby clubs, professional clubs, and cultural clubs.


Sports clubs are popular among individuals who are passionate about a particular sport, such as golf, tennis, or swimming. These clubs often have top-notch facilities, expert coaching, and regular competitions, providing members with an opportunity to improve their skills and engage in friendly competition.


Hobby clubs focus on specific hobbies or interests, such as photography, cooking, or book clubs. These clubs offer a platform for individuals with similar interests to come together, share their knowledge, and engage in activities related to their hobby.


Professional clubs are usually geared towards individuals in a specific industry or profession. These clubs provide networking opportunities, professional development resources, and a platform to exchange ideas and insights with like-minded professionals.


Cultural clubs celebrate and promote a particular culture or heritage. These clubs organize events, performances, and exhibitions that showcase the richness and diversity of a specific culture. They provide a sense of community for individuals who share a common cultural background.

Regardless of the definition of the social club, all successful clubs have common characteristics

Characteristics of a Successful Social Club

When envisioning and designing The Trybe Women's Social Club, I knew that a sense of belonging was an absolutely critical component of all clubs and needed to be kept top of mind at all times.


I followed the model Charles Vogl outlines in his fantastic book The Art of Community. Seven Principles of Belonging. In this book, Vogl states that there are seven crucial elements that contribute to the formation and sustainability of a community. These include:


  • Boundary. Clear definition of who is and isn’t in the community, creating a sense of belonging.

  • Initiation. The process by which new members are welcomed into the community, solidifying their sense of belonging.

  • Rituals. Shared experiences that help to reinforce the values and identity of the community.

  • Temple. A defined space (physical or virtual) where the community comes together.

  • Stories. Shared narratives that help to define the community's identity and describe its history.

  • Symbols. Community-specific symbols that serve as reminders of the community's identity and ideals.

  • Inner Rings. Smaller, more involved groups within the larger community that offer a path to deeper involvement and recognition for members.

There are tons of possible answers to the question of what is a social club

Once the structure around cultivating a sense of belonging was in place for my club, I then turned to Jono Bacon's equally excellent (and similarly titled) book The Art of Community. Building the New Age of Participation for further guidance.


In this book, Bacon outlines several fundamental pillars that are instrumental to a successful community including:


  • Belonging. The sense of being part of a collective, where each member shares a common goal or interest.

  • Influence. The ability for every community member to contribute to decision-making processes and shape the future of the group.

  • Learning. The opportunity for members to continuously enhance their knowledge and skills within the community's sphere of interest.

  • Support. The availability of help and assistance, both from the community as a whole and from individual members.

  • Safety. A welcoming and non-threatening environment that respects each member's rights and dignity.

  • Empathy. Understanding and sharing the feelings of others, fostering stronger interpersonal connections.

  • Sustainability. The community's ability to maintain its operations, engagement, and relevance over the long term.

  • Evolution. The capacity for the community to adapt, innovate, and grow in response to changing needs and circumstances.


Benefits of Joining a Social Club

As I outline in great detail in my article, 19 Reasons You Should Join a Social Club, joining a social club can dramatically enrich your life through both personal and professional benefits.


Social clubs can open doors to new experiences, new passions and offer significant opportunities to expand your social circle. With regular participation, social clubs also provide a sense of support, community, and belonging. As you are no doubt aware, all of these things will positively impact your mental, emotional and physical well being.


Benefits of Starting a Social Club

Creating a social club is one of the best decisions I have ever made. In cultivating community for others, I have created it for myself.


As I mention in my article, 17 Compelling Reasons To Start a Social Club, all of the benefits of joining a social club are realized by and amplified for the person who starts the club.


Because I structured my social club to align with my own personal core values and interests, every single day (whether I am actively engaging with my community,  working on ways to improve it behind the scenes or writing a blog post to try to encourage others to step up to lead), I KNOW  that I am living in alignment with my true purpose.  


And best of all…I am having an absolute BLAST! 

A social club is defined based on the purpose and focus of the club

The Future of Social Clubs

As society continues to evolve, so too will social clubs. Whereas the core principles are unlikely to change, social clubs will adapt to meet the needs and desires of future generations.


One obvious trend is that many clubs are embracing digital platforms to enhance member communication, streamline event planning, and provide virtual experiences. This, of course, allows for greater flexibility and accessibility, particularly for members who may not be able to attend physical events regularly.


The Trybe Women's Social Club is a good example of a social club forming, adapting and changing to societal needs.


At first, The Trybe was an in-person only women's social club without an online component. This design was intentional because The Trybe formed in January of 2021 when we were all just beginning to go outside our homes to socialize again and many were struggling specifically with in person connection.


A couple of years later, once the acute need for helping people restablish in person connection was met, The Trybe expanded to also offer digital membership options in order to serve those who do not live in locations where The Trybe is already physically established.


In addition to technological changes, social clubs are becoming more diverse and inclusive, reflecting the changing demographics and values of society. Many clubs are actively working to attract a broader range of members, including younger individuals, women, and people from different cultural backgrounds.


This inclusivity not only enriches the club experience but also ensures its longevity and relevance in a rapidly changing world.


Final Thoughts

The definition of a social club varies depending on the club's purpose, but one critical component that all social clubs have in common is that members must have a sense of belonging and come together around a shared set of values and interests.


For centuries, social clubs have remained a cornerstone of community engagement, personal development, and networking. Despite the rapid pace of societal change, social clubs have continually adapted, embracing digital platforms and championing inclusivity.


If you are looking for community, consider joining a social club in your area. If you cannot find one...start your own! I'd love to help you with this. Reach out to me at angela@the-trybe.com!


About the Author

Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at angela@the-trybe.com.


(*Note. If The Trybe Women's Social Club is not in your location, reach out to Dr. Caveney to start a conversation about creating a club where you live. Even if you don't know a single person in your new city, don't worry!  This is a great way to start to meet new people fast. We'll provide the framework to get you started.)


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