||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2008)|
- Social Club may also refer to a video game community service by Rockstar Games, see Rockstar Games Social Club.
A social club may refer to a group of people or the place where they meet, generally formed around a common interest, occupation or activity (e.g. hunting, fishing, science, politics or charity work). Note that this article covers only two distinct types of social clubs, the historic gentlemen's clubs and the modern activities clubs. This article does not cover a variety of other types of clubs having some social characteristics, for example specific single-activity based clubs, military officers' clubs, country clubs, and fraternities and sororities.
Working men's clubs developed in Britain during Victorian times as institutes where working class men could attend lectures and take part in recreational pursuits. The Reverend Henry Solly founded the Working Men's Club and Institute Union (CIU) for this purpose in 1862. Many middle class social reformers founded these clubs during the temperance movement as a place to relax without alcohol, but in time this changed. They became a combination of public houses (pubs), music-halls, and clubs, becoming places to be entertained, to drink socially, and to play bar games. Their mainly working-class patronage is not seen as fashionable among some sections of society today, and they have come under increasing pressure regarding attitudes to membership rights for women and ethnic minorities. The CIU was heavily involved in resisting the banning of smoking in private clubs; it remains to be seen how many survive the change of law.
Modern clubs include San Francisco's Urban Diversion which opened in 2003 as a general adventure and activities social club and Soho, London's Groucho Club, which opened in 1985 as "the antidote to the traditional club." The "traditional club" referred to is the elitist gentlemen's club, a fixture of upper class male British society. This is not to be confused with the modern use of the phrase, which now stands as a euphemism for a strip club.
Clubs in England and Wales were not controlled by the licensing system until the Licensing Act of 1902 was passed, or in Scotland until the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1903 was passed. They were passed mainly to check the abuse of “clubs” being formed solely to sell intoxicating liquors free from the restrictions of the licensing acts, but it applied to all kinds of clubs in England and Wales. The act required the registration of every club that occupied any premises habitually used for the purposes of a club and in which intoxicating liquor was supplied to members or their guests. The secretary of every club was required to give a return to the clerk to the justices of the petty sessional division a return with this information:
- the name and objects of the club
- the address of the club
- the name of the secretary
- the number of members
- the rules of the club relating to:
- the election of members and the admission of temporary and honorary members and of guests
- the terms of subscription and entrance fee, if any
- the cessation of membership
- the hours of opening and closing
- the mode of altering the rules
Social activities clubs 
Social Activities Clubs are a modern combination of several types of clubs and reflect today's more eclectic and varied society. These clubs are centered around the activities available to the club members in the city or area in which the club is located. Some have a traditional club house, bar or restaurant where members gather, others do not.
Events can include a broad range of activities from sporting events and social parties to the Ballet, the arts or book clubs. Unlike traditional clubs they are not limited to one kind of event or special interest, but include a broad range of events in their monthly calendars. The members choose which events the club is going to take part in based upon the changing interests of the members. The members themselves determine which events, of those offered, they will attend.
Because the purpose of these clubs is split between general social interaction and taking part in the events themselves, both single and married people can take part. However clubs tend to have more single members than married, and many clubs exist for only single people, or are limited just to married couples or are limited by sexual preference(homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality).
Membership can be limited or open to the general public, as can the events. Most clubs have a limited membership based upon specific criteria, and restrict the events to members to increase their feeling of security, creating an increased sense of camaraderie and belonging. There are many examples of private social clubs including the University Club of Chicago, The Mansion on O Street in D.C. and New York Friars' Club.
Social activities clubs can be for profit, non-profit, or a combination of the two (A for profit club with a non-profit charitable arm, for instance).
Some social clubs have function halls which members or, sometimes, the general public can rent for parties.
A number of Jewish community centers and other organizations such as the YMCA have social clubs for people with social anxiety and learning disabilities. Membership in these clubs is limited to individuals with these conditions.
See also 
- Urban Diversion Adventures & Activities Social Club
- Association of Conservative Clubs
- Socialist societies
- Liberal democracy
- List of American gentlemen's clubs
- Gentlemen's club (traditional), known as a private club in the United States.
- Anime club
- Membership discrimination in California social clubs