London’s vibrant, historical and passionate relationship with members clubs is well know. With vast numbers of clubs offering the most opulent, cavalier and gentrified experiences, often with price-tags to match, the entire idea of a members club has become somewhat diminished in recent times. What these clubs were founded for, and the reason they became so successful in the first place, was due to their magical ability to connect likeminded people, to form friendships, share good times, and revel in the fineries of life. And this has never been more relevant than right now. This is where The Society Club comes into the picture. A bookshop come members club set up by Babette Kulik in 2011, and one that is a marvellous place to visit today, the novelty of The Society Club’s charm knows no bounds. After 6 o’clock, the bookshop transforms into a members club, where book-lovers can chat, listen to the numerous performances and talks, and sip on a few lovely cocktails too.
Over the past few years it has been going from strength to strength, with another a sister location recently opening in Shoreditch. To mark this exciting new avenue, The Gentleman’s Journal meets Babette to find out more.
How did The Society Club come about?
I have always been passionate about books and collecting and it was always in the back of my mind that one day I would follow this passion in one way or another. When a close friend died in 2010 it taught me that, clichéd as it is, life is too short, and that is when, with the help of family and friends, I launched The Society Club. We have bookshops at both venues and for these I curate a collection of rare secondhand books alongside new titles which I occasionally add to with books from my own personal collection.
Where do you see the club going?
Our recent opening in Shoreditch means that I haven’t had a minute to think about the future beyond the next few months! The new venue is great as it means we can take on more members and be more accessible to people who don’t venture into central London as often. With this club we are looking to have more events with a broad appeal and to make use of the great space (and garden!) that we have.
After that who knows. A fantasy is to one day open a club in New York. However for now I need two feet firmly on the ground and remain focused on the two venues that we have and make sure they stay aligned with the values of The Society Club.
Who is your typical member?
We really don’t have a ‘typical’ member. Some of our members are young professionals in their early 20s. Others are older established architects, creatives, poets. The great thing is that you can walk in on a Friday night, not know anyone, and within minutes be chatting to a group of people like you’ve known them for years. That for me is what makes a typical member, not who someone is or what they do, but how they become involved in the club.
Does your expansion into Shoreditch signify a growth in the interest of the literary world among Londoners?
I think Londoners have always been interested in literature. I’m a Londoner and I have! We have a great literary culture and history in London, with many writers making this city their home both in the past and today. I think our expansion demonstrates that people are willing to invest in what they love. Fortunately for us that means rare books and good cocktails!
For those gentlemen who love literature (which you all should) The Society Club is certainly a spot that requires your visitation, and I’m sure you’ll immediately fall in love with it.
For more information visit thesocietyclub.com