Members Only clubs are still very much the thing in London – partly as a way of keeping out the hordes of people that cram into West End pubs at a weekend, hanging out of the doors like people on an overpacked Indian train, and partly because there are plenty of people who like to feel jolly important, and the more exclusive their club, the more important they feel.
Back in 1965, gentlemen’s clubs were still the stuffy home of politicians, minor royals, wealthy businessmen and a generally staid and ageing clientele, as you can see in this great Look at Life documentary short. Both these and the gambling clubs featured seem depressingly lacking in even the slightest amount of joy for anyone there. Presumably, these ‘men only’ clubs appealed mainly as a place to get away from the wife.
Then, there are the private clubs frequented by artists (as shown here by a venue that looks packed with old drunks – so probably an accurate representation) and late night jazz clubs for the more bohemian… though many people here too seem to be stuffed shirts. Although teased early on, members-only cinemas, showing uncensored nudie films, are mostly ignored.
A fascinating look at a world before nightclubs and discos, when pubs still closed for the afternoon and nightlife was decidedly limited.