Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guys Night Out: Gentlemen's Clubs

When men of rank or celebrity needed a night away from the nagging wife and the screaming children, the gentlemen's clubs was a necessary luxury. Of course, many of these men legally had the right to punish wives for nagging and servants took care of any children running around...but any excuse was a good enough excuse to take a stroll down to the West End for a bit of fun with the lads.

The clubs were an evolved form of the coffeehouse but with the design of being a home away from home. Think: clean and luxurious frat house. In fact, I think I could name a few gents who probably wouldn't mind spending their nights there today! Inside you could find plenty of booze and plenty of gambling. A typical night consisted of arriving, having a bite to eat, drinking, more drinking, and gambling until eleven in the morning, all while not even leaving the gaming table. Of course there were regulars there so the clubs ended up being like Cheers, "where everybody knows your name." One of the more famous clubs (and still in existence, except more uppity and less fun) was Brooks. You could find the Duke of Devonshire here with other prominant Whigs as well as Samuel Johnson, not to mention the Prince of Wales, Charles James Fox, heck, even William Pitt the Younger was a member!

Sometimes the home away from home was almost...a home! Arrangements could be made at some clubs if you were too exhausted to be able to make your way back home and needed to spend the night. It's a wonder that the gentlemen actually made it out of the clubs with all the fun they contained inside, although there was that one rumour about Fox not emerging from Brooks for days...

4 comments:

  1. From your description, that actually does sound like Cheers (a better form of Cheers; one without Diane and Carla!). Would there be women there anyway? I find it hard to believe that men would go out to have fun (especially for days) in a place where there aren't any women.

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  2. Sometimes I wish I were an 18th Century Gent. Failing that I am planning a library with a club feel.

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  3. Ha, so true Judy!

    Perhaps women were the only things to lure the gentleman out of the club for some fresh air.

    I think life would be pretty good as an 18th c gent!

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