Published on November 5, 2013 | by Niamh Coghlan0
Only girls allowed
The eternal battle of men versus women is unlikely to cease to exist any time soon, so why don’t we indulge ourselves in a female-only club and just enjoy?
The Other Club is a pop-up space in Kingly Court for professional women to interact and will only be here for a few more weeks. The club describes itself as an organisation for ‘women that do’. A meeting place for women of all ages, backgrounds, intellects and careers; an oestrogen-infused melting pot of discussion, opinions and debates.
During the day they offer hot-desk working space with iPads to borrow and free Wi-Fi. By night, the venue hosts a range of talks, Q&As, supper clubs and networking events. From talks by Playboy girls to the editor of Marie Claire and music sessions from Katie Melua – this is not an experience to miss.
Who’s behind the club? The co-founders of the club, Joy Lo Dico and Katie Glass, are both practicing journalists and good friends. Joy is the deputy editor of Londoner’s Diary and has also worked on and off for the London Evening Standard for the past ten years.
Katie is a features writer for The Sunday Times Magazine but you can add The Daily Mail, The Observer, Elle, Grazia and Marie Claire to the list of publications she has worked with.
As their website declares: “We got so bored of having dinner with each other, we decided to invite some other female journalists along. That grew into a supper club for women journalists. The club got bigger and we found ourselves looking outside journalism. So we started The Other Club.”
On meeting Joy and Katie it was straight to business – “Sit down, let’s power through these questions, for both our sakes!”
Joy begins, it was a Friday evening after all. Her punchy remarks somehow seemed efficient and polite, two attributes that rarely run side by side.
Why do women want their own club? Is it because men have them? Is it for the mere fact that we are in a day and age where we can? Is it of benefit to society? But most importantly do we really need a reason?
Katie and Joy say: “It came about because women wanted it. After the first supper, journalists we didn’t know emailed us asking to join what was essentially a talking-shop evening, until we had a group that spanned from Vice to The Telegraph.
“Then women in other professions started enthusing about the idea too. So we decided to find a home. Shaftesbury gave us a short rent in Soho, in a double unit in Kingly Court — a great place to start.“Furniture suppliers have lent us sofas, business advisers and PRs their time, artists their work. We’ve got friends sleeping on our sofas to help and have set up partnerships with a local lager company and a restaurant — both run by women. The day our website went live, more than 600 people looked at it.”
Even if everyone’s reasons for why differ, there clearly seems to be a demand for it. So what does one of the events run like? I managed to secure myself a much sought-after ticket to the Playboy night at the intimate club venue.
I nestled into a comfy armchair at the side of the room, within ten minutes the venue was bursting out the doors and merging with the buzzing atmosphere of Carnaby Street. A loud “Hello ladies!” was echoed across the room by Katie and the 30 or more women instantly fell to silent as the evening began.
We listened intently for the next hour to the Playboy Bunny brand ambassador, a Bunny from the 60s, and the lead campaigner of the ‘no more page three’ campaign. A whirlwind of ideas, opinion, stories and concepts shared and soaked in ready for questioning.
Like excited school children, hands rocketed into the air. Thus began the Playboy thrashing. Surely Sara Rourke (bunny brand ambassador) was expecting to be questioned harshly after coming to preach the Playboy brand to cultured and engaged women.
Luckily her current undertaking of a PhD was doing her justice in her well-educated responses. “Do you feel your brand image being plastered on young teenagers pencil cases and clothing is acceptable promotion of a pornography magazine?’ One young woman asked.
“How empowering do you feel it is for women to dress in revealing costumes and serve men?” The next woman shouts. “Your fellow colleagues who have come along in full Playboy costume have done very well at sitting either side of you and looking gorgeous, do they speak?”
The last question beckoned before Katie took control of the discussion and led an exciting and well-constructed debate. As much of a balanced argument as possible went on and it wrapped with the thanking of all participating, but strangely – and this is where I feel a men’s club differs from women’s – everyone, including the Playboy ladies, stayed on for at least an hour to chat informally with the audience.
It was hard not to leave the club feeling empowered, inspired and excited by the incredible passion in the room, knowing such engaged and committed women are actively seeking solutions to their gripes.
So what next? The Other Club culminates in a last supper on November 15, when the cosy venue will be bustling with opinionated and stimulating women. As the space is only temporary, the club will cease to exist physically from this date, but for how long, I don’t know?
When asked, Katie responded: “If there’s a demand for the club to continue physically then I’m damn well sure it will, even if it’s not me who pursues it. Women get what women want.”
The Other Club is at First Floor, Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street, and runs until November 15.
Members only, please visit The Other Club website for membership information