ON COMMON GROUND
A new breed of private clubs has mushroomed in Singapore, and they are speaking the language of the younger generation.
A new breed of private clubs has mushroomed in Singapore, and they are speaking in the language of the younger generation.
They were once perceived as exclusive enclaves for the upper class, featuring plush facilities no other could offer, be it Olympicsized pools or rolling golfing greens. They were also where one – and his younger generation – could rub shoulders with the ‘right’ crowd and build relationships with leaders of industries in a social setting. Indeed, their value as a status symbol was what once gave members-only clubs the halo of a mythical promised land. Yet, if you even vaguely suggest that the prestige factor is what compelled Cheryl Chong to join newly launched members’ club Straits Clan, the Co-Founder of The Social Co and Business Development Director of Singapore-based crowdfunding platform Fundedhere would protest in horror. “I am certainly not one to join a club because it is atas,” says Chong, 31. ( Atas translates to ‘posh’ in Malay).
To a new generation of movers and shakers, doing anything for the sake of prestige is probably as gauche as dressing up in monogrammed apparel from head to toe. New private members’ clubs such as Straits Clan and 1880 are thus taking a very different tack in attracting potential members – and their method has slight indie undertones.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Apart from Straits Clan, Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC) – of which Chong is chairperson – is the only other ‘club’ she has joined. For the 10-year member of YWLC, the organisation’s appeal lies in its purpose of connecting women in business with established mentors, creating a strong community of women leaders. It is exactly this promise of bringing together a new community – and one with a positive social impact, to boot – that led Chong to join Straits Clan. “I attended one of its initial events and found the speakers inspiring and the content – on topics such as funding start-ups and new ways to reach out to the community for social initiatives – relevant,” she says. Held in November last year, the event saw speakers such as Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation; mountaineer David Lim; and Roger Egan, CoFounder and CEO of Redmart sharing insights on the themes of courage, contradiction and change.
“Admittedly, there were many among the attendees whom I already knew through the course of my job and social work. But there were others whom I was unfamiliar with, so I look forward to connecting with them through club events, or even just through social interaction while using the space,” Chong adds.
02 TIPPLE HOUR The club’s members-only bar is located on the second storey of the building. 02
01 LOCAL LINGO Custom-made rattan furniture and design elements inspired by 1970s Singapore characterise Straits Clan. 01
03 HERITAGE REVIVAL Straits Clan occupies the site of the former New Majestic hotel in Bukit Pasoh Road. 03