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6 Private Clubs That Will Help You Rub Shoulders With Powerful People

By Serena Solomon | January 28, 2015 8:14pm
 Private clubs throughout New York City can provide community and support for your career or business.
Private New York City Clubs
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NEW YORK CITY — Julian Alexander, a 40-year-old creative director, never bothered with private industry clubs. They appeared to be like “old man clubs,” insincere in their promise to help him along in his career, he said.

Now going on two years as a member of the Art Directors Club, an industry group for those in the commercial arts, design and advertising, Alexander’s perception has changed.

“I think they have a strong sense of community,” said Alexander, the founder of the multidisciplinary agency Slang Inc.

He uses the club’s member lounge on West 29th Street as an occasional co-working space and to host meetings. He has created stronger professional networks and found new ways to promote his work through the ADC, he said.

Many productive business relationships Alexander has developed "trace directly back to an event or introduction made through other members,” said Alexander.

With increasing numbers of New Yorkers turning to freelance work, a membership at a private club could make up for some of the tradeoffs that come with being a solopreneur or starting your own thing.  Membership can get you priceless networking moments, a place to bring clients, hold meetings and work or socialize at club events.

Here are six private clubs that could boost your career:

Norwood Club at 241 West 14th St. in Chelsea
Membership Fee: Annual dues are $2,000 with an initial joining fee of $800.

Norwood, a club that occupies an entire Chelsea townhouse, has about 1,100 members whose average age is in the mid-30s, according to owner Alan Linn. Membership isn’t exclusive to certain industries, but members usually fall into a creative field such as the arts and design, he said.

“We look for people who are doing something amazing,” said Linn, adding that applicants do not need the recommendation of a current member.

He said that members adopt the townhouse as a satellite office. Events and social gatherings, along with dining fill up the rest of the time.

Norwood members also get full membership at nine other affiliated clubs around the world, including Auckland and Budapest.

Art Directors Club at 106 West 29th St. in Chelsea
Membership Fee: $50 per year for student members, $100 per year for those under 30 and $175 annually for everyone else.

Despite its name, the Art Directors Club, a global organization based in New York, isn’t just for art directors and graphic designers. About 40 percent of its members are a diverse group of writers, filmmakers, retouchers, user-experience designers and others from the commercial arts, according to Zack Kinslow, ADC’s director of community.

“It’s pretty much creatives from every area of expertise,” he said.

Members have access to the club’s only brick and mortar space on Sixth Avenue. The space functions as a lecture room, co-working area and exhibition space, according to Kinslow.

“I would say it’s New York’s best kept secret,” he said, noting that members pay less to use the space for an entire year than they would to rent a co-working desk for a month.

The Montauk Club at 25 Eighth Ave. in Park Slope
Membership: For those under 35, annual membership is $350 and for those older than 35, it is $550. Members must also spend at least $50 at the club each month.

Even though the Montauk Club is an old institution that dates back to 1889, today it appeals to Brooklyn’s new trendy residents. Most members are Park Slope locals under 35 who come from a wide range of industries including media, entertainment, real estate and finance, according to David Carter, the membership committee chairman.

“I tell folks that it’s a pub-ish atmosphere — singles and families stop in for a drink and dinner after work… or for brunch,” he said.

The Montauk Club has a bar, dining room, lounges, and an outdoor deck. Wednesday through Friday it is open from 4:30 until about midnight and Sunday brunch is from 10:30 to 3 p.m. The club is closed Monday, Tuesday and Saturday.

NeueHouse at 110 E. 25th St. in the Flatiron District
Membership: Price upon request, but a NeueHouse representative put it in the range of "several hundred to several thousand dollars a month."

NeueHouse is part-co-working space and part-private club. There are meeting rooms that can be booked and there's space for solopreneurs and small companies of up to ten people. The NeueHouse sets itself apart with its lounge areas for casual meetings, a cafeteria called the Canteen that servers beer, wine and liquor, a screening room with up to 60 seats and a recording studio capable of producing podcasts and voiceovers. There are also art exhibitions, evening lectures, performances and film screenings.

Right now there is a waiting list for membership, according to a NeueHouse representative. A wide variety of industries are represented including technology and finance as well as non-profits, food industry startups and publishing. NeueHouse is only months away from opening its second location in Los Angeles.

Magnises at 22 Greenwich Ave. in the West Village
Membership: Annual fee of $250 for all members.

The private club Magnises' membership is based around a credit card. The club issues a branded black card that links to whichever credit card a member already has, as well as perks at restaurants and hotels. The card affords members ability to get behind the velvet ropes at certain nightclubs and access to a private townhouse in the West Village, according to the club's website. The townhouse is open from midday until 9 p.m. for both work and play such as dinner parties, art shows and lectures, according to a Business Insider article on the club.

The same article stated that Magnises, which opened in 2013, has at least 1,200 members with the majority in the 25 to 35 age bracket. The members come from fashion, finance, tech and other industries. Potential members are asked to have a referral from an existing member and a list that includes what school they attended, what they do for work, where they like to shop and where they like to eat, according to the website.

SoHo House 29-35 Ninth Ave. in the Meatpacking District
Membership: The cost ranges from $1,000 for those under 27 and only wants access to one club location to $2,800 for someone over 27 with access to SoHo House's 12 other locations around the world.

SoHo House is unashamed of its exclusivity, limiting its membership to those in creative industries such as advertising, fashion, media and music, according to its website. It also requires two existing members vouch for those applying for membership. A headshot is required as a part of the membership application.

During the day the club acts as a work area for members who host meetings and lunches at the sprawling multilevel club house that also includes a hotel and a screening room.

At night and on the weekend, the club in the Meatpacking District turns to party mode, especially around the rooftop pool in the summer. Cocktails flow from the bar and the restaurant area is packed with good-looking diners. SoHo House is currently building out its second New York City location on the Lower East Side.