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New Societies


For the art agnostic:
The Secret City

Why join: The monthly art event staged by this Obie Award–winning club is modeled after religious services, with a choir, silent meditation, and other community-building exercises in addition to the (utterly nondenominational) performances. Shows are open to all, but there’s a loyal crew of regulars who return each month to view visual art and dance, listen to live music and storytellers, and taste food “offerings” from local chefs, all inspired by a single theme, such as light, purpose, or memory. Past artists have ranged from quirky monomaniacs (harpists, tap dancers, collagists) to blockbuster talents (Rosanne Cash).

Getting in: Sign up for the mailing list online to get word of the monthly gatherings, which unfold at experimental Lower East Side theater Dixon Place. Events are free, but donations are welcome.

Exclusivity: 1/4

For the liquid aesthete:
Bower Hill Society

Why join: Digital-marketing exec A. J. Lawrence’s Bower Hill Society gathers booze fetishists for monthly confabs inside his Dumbo office. Lawrence taps distillers—hoary old outfits like the Macallan and bootstrap start-ups like Owney’s rum—to present their wares, talk the 100-odd members through a tasting, and stick around for a casual Q&A. Drams and welcome cocktails are dispatched from a salvaged-wood bar, and snacks are available to keep the crowd of bankers, start-up kings, and the occasional graffiti artist on terra firma. Check out the scene on May 23, when Bower Hill invites the makers of Greenhook Ginsmiths to the floor.

Getting in: Sign up for the mailing list online to receive word of the monthly meets. There’s no fee to join, but events range from $35 to $68; partial proceeds benefit the Step Up Women’s Network.

Exclusivity: 1/4

For the urban country-clubber:
Golf & Body NYC

Why join: Short of practicing your swing at the populist Chelsea Piers, you’ll find that New York isn’t a particularly friendly place for golfers. So credit is due to former commodities broker Tom Schiff, who in January transformed a 25,000-square-foot space near Penn Station into a wonderland for Arnold Palmer aspirants. Among the amenities are seven HD golf simulators featuring hole-by-hole re-creations of Pebble Beach and 20 other courses, two large putting greens, a café, and a fitness center outfitted with machines chosen for their stroke-strengthening faculties. An on-site concierge assists with requests both easy (shipping a member’s gear and apparel to his travel destination) and extravagant (booking a private jet). As the weather warms, members will be able to sign up for social outings to courses in Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut.

Getting in: Tours of the facility are available by appointment only (call 212-244-2626). Membership rates range from $6,000 to $7,500 per person a year, with an introductory initiation fee starting at $3,500.

Exclusivity: 3/4

For the pet-obsessed:
Ruff Club


Why join: It reads like the setting of a rom-com, but this East Village club—a members-only hang for man’s best friend—takes canine kinship beyond the dog park. Hounds can live it up in the off-leash play area, or nibble on Bocce’s Bakery treats in the space up front, while their humans sip free locally roasted coffee and make use of the Wi-Fi. Two-legged members (of which there are 150) can bring food and booze to enjoy in the clubhouse and are offered priority admission to Ruff Club’s programming, which includes social events (a Bloody Mary brunch) and panel discussions (“Cooking for Your Dog on a Budget”). If you prefer to leave your pooch to the doggy-day-care pros, you can check in throughout the day via HD live feed.

Getting in: There’s currently a waiting list, but a member referral lets you leapfrog the line. Applicants must submit their pups to a 90-minute screening. Dues are $149 a year, plus boarding.

Exclusivity: 2.5/4

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