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Friday, February 06, 2009

The Core Club


What will $72,000 get you? The first year's membership at the Core Club ($60,000 initiation fee), but only if you're invited. I was asked recently if I had photos of the Core Club, so I decided to investigate. The club was started in 2005 by Jennie Saunders and is located in the first five floors at 66 East 55th Street. The sleek building, Park Avenue Place, is a luxury condominium in Manhattan's Upper East Side, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Original investors gave $100,000 each, with an understanding that this would be paid back at some time.

I did enter the reception area with its Damien Hirst spin painting and was greeted with a polite welcome. I was not permitted a tour or photos of the inside, of course.

I have tired of "exclusive" clubs in this city. This is not the green of jealousy raising its head here. In the 1980s, I was privy to entry of many music clubs that had a policy of exclusion and selection. Throngs would gather outside these clubs, hoping to be selected for the privilege of entry. Studio 54, Xenon, the Mud Club, Area, Palladium, Peppermint Lounge, Danceteria etal. At the time, I had a coworker who was well connected, and I was frequently put on the guest list. Often, I entered a club with huge numbers outside clamoring to get in, only to find a dance floor virtually devoid of people. Boring. The illusion of extreme importance was the thing being sold to cultivate an urgency and lust for entry.

Now I am sure that the Core Club is not as vacuous a cultural experience as a night at Studio 54, but I question how many real movers and shakers want to hobnob in a private club. The Core Club did reel in some big names initially: John McEnroe, Richard Meier, Vernon Jordan, Steve Schwarzman, Bruce Wasserstein, and Teddy Forstmann. There is a library compiled by a veteran of the Paris Revue. The place also features a screening room, gym, and restaurant headed by Tom Colicchio. But aren't people in this social strata already well connected and busy, with a rich social and cultural life? I could see a place like this of interest to a member of the nouveau riche who is early in the image game and needs affirmation that they are someone or have arrived.

My feelings were confirmed this morning as I read an article from November 2008. Apparently the club is having difficulty in repaying the initial seed money. Numbers were not what they anticipated. Memberships were given at reduced prices to attract certain individuals...

10 comments:

Katie cat said...

When I lived on West 54th and would walk walk home from work on the east side, I'd pass Studio 54 and wonder about what went on in there and what it must have been like back in it's hoppin' days!

heterogenius said...

"The illusion of extreme importance was the thing being sold to cultivate an urgency and lust for entry."

I believe you sums it up well...

Brooklyn's Jay-Z once eloquently said "you can pay for school but you cant buy class". These "exclusive clubs" are ridiculous, seriously. It reminds me of the insecure little bullie kid on the playground bogarting the sandbox for he and his cronies. Its stupid.

I am all for partying bars clubs, etc. but come on. I cant really think of any logical reason to pay $60,000 for a initiation fee to a membershit to see some lame club to be around other lame nouveau rich people.

With the economy in it's current state I wonder how low that initiation fee is now and how many people are still interested in joining.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy the critics are in! Be more positive and stop being so damn negative just because someone is doing something they think is unique. Thats why humankind is so ass backwards! We lack true wisdom and unity when it comes to business and personal affairs in life! If you guys can take the time to be negative - I took the time to reply to how much of a waste of time your comments are! Be productive! Contribute to doing something instead of this garbage! I hope the Core club succeeds and I wish that to any man, woman or child that has a dream to do something to create something instead of being negative!

Cheers,
John
NY, NY

Anonymous said...

I worked at Core Club at one point in time ... first there is this illusion that the members are invited and there is a review process. However, there was an entire department that googled daily and scoured the world for the wealthy and connected and they would be contacted. They were invited, but it was always implied that a member had referred them, so they told many white lies to make it seem more important and prestigious == there was no review board, they simply wanted a check to meet their membership sales goals each month. The restaurant was originally set up with tom colicchio as a consultant - not sure what he really did, only saw him at the core a handful of times, and majority of those were to eat or hold a meeting. I think that they simply wanted to and paid him to use his name, but that ended and he was no longer officially affiliated with the core club. Since I have left I have heard of a number of changes - a lot of key staff have left or been reduced, services have been limited, and salaries have been reduced or capped. The economy is a factor but i feel that with the way that club was run was a larger factor in its financial operations. One aspect you did not mention is that during the summer Jennie Saunders would spend the entire summer in her palatial hamptons summer home that the core club would rent to entertain the members during the summer. Nice way to live, have your job pay for a summer home and provide you a lifestyle you cannot afford. I have only scratched the surface of core's issues and past problems - i feel for the members and the staff, if core cannot survive. If the members only knew how their money was spent, they would never have invested it... good luck.

Brian Dubé said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for all the insider details - always best to hear the story from those who actually have had direct experience with a place like this.

Anonymous said...

Well, I work at the Core Club now, and I must say the hype is unwarranted. Even though you pay an exorbitant monthly fee JUST to be a member, you ALSO have to pay for personal trainers, food in the (admittedly stunning) restaurant and bar, and pay extreme amounts for salon and spa services (with an additional 20% tacked on for gratuities). I guess people join just to say they belong to the Core Club. The name still has an impact in some circles, even though the majority of members never set foot in the space more than once or twice a year.

Anonymous said...

@ either Anonymous...any honest straightforward advice for someone who's soon going for an interview there please?

Anonymous said...

I was job searching on Craig's List and found that the exclusive restaurant in the Core Club was looking for a Hostess. I sent my resume and I got a call back like a few hours later. I went in for an interview the next day and really liked the place. The hiring manager told me to come in the next day for a "2 hour trial-training" period? I have never done that before. I had to sign a form that says I'm only an observer and after being introduced to the staff, receiving a map of the tables, and even a typed up list of what my duties would be as a hostess, I was dismissed after two hours. I was actually working while I was "observing," like taking customers' drink orders that were sitting in the lounge, cleaning up the empty/dirty glasses, and memorizing the table numbers. What a waste of time! I never got a call back!! The position was for immediate hire and I really thought I had it.. I got a "we'll be in touch in a few days," blah blah... screw them! what a waste of time... and there were no female waiters or managers, only MALE... weird... I want to work somewhere where I can actually move up in the company! If you are a female and are happy to be a hostess for years there, then that's the job for you. If you are a male and an American citizen, you will not be a waiter haha

Anonymous said...

heard big changes are going on. SOMEBODY is getting the boot for misbehaving and using funds improperly for their personal objectives. If you can't live like your members don't steal from the company!

Anonymous said...

Hmnn... Well Craig's list has an ad on it again today for a Hostess for the Core Club. I thought I'd check out the club on-line before I answered the ad since I knew nothing about the place, despite living only about 8 blocks away from it. 'Glad I did! It sounds ghastly, I've always disliked a parvenu atmosphere.
I'll not send them my resume!!