‘Members only’ has, by nature an exclusionary connotation, whether we like it or not. This is not the first time a well known personality has written about being denied permission to enter an elite club.
As is customary, no opinion piece may proceed before the usual disclaimer- So, here, The text following the above, intends, in no way to hurt anyone. So don’t get hurt.
These polite and sometimes rude reminders of confirming to club’s sartorial sanctions become headlines, especially when the one denied the right to step in, in the club’s precincts, happens to be a celebrity. In the past, M.F Hussain was famously refused to enter a South Bombay club for being barefoot, L.K Advani was denied entry to the Delhi Gymkhana for wearing a dhoti and Parliamentarian and author Shashi Tharoor, stopped from entering the Madras Gymkhana for his own sister’s reception, a couple of decades ago. While the tules appear to have become more relaxed, depending on the club, with allowance of the bandhgala , nehru jacket etc, yet. each club retains the right to have these vestiary conventions.
The tone and tenor of the refusal and it’s acceptance lies in the fact that there is no constitutional or legal recourse to setting a private club’s dress norms. Each institution has rules, however arcane, and it’s best for members to acquaint the guests of those.
Here’s what stemmed out of the invigorating debate on my FB timeline :
At the same time, a polite reminder to a defaulter, is a must to retain the essential difference between a club and any hotel! As Oscar Wilde famously said, ‘Only those who can’t be members speak disrespectfully of clubs.’ There have been instances of people such as the writer, late Khushwant Singh, who vowed never to visit a club after being turned away from one. Also, there are myriad club types ranging from sports- or the gymkhana , the famous Cricket Clubs, amateur Dramatic Club, like the one in Simla or the ladies clubs like the Niligiris ladies Club- each with a charter of its own. Best to participate, where one can and not lament the ones where one can’t! Or wait your turn…