|Gentlemen's club and Moustache Club|
The Handlebar Club is an association of aficionados of the handlebar moustache, based in London. The club's sole requirement for membership is "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip and with graspable extremities"; beards are absolutely forbidden. The club engages in activism to assuage discrimination against the handlebarred as well as competitive facial hair tourneys, and has inspired the foundation of transatlantic and Scandinavian counterparts. The club declares itself to be at war with a society that demands people choose "the bland, the boring and the generic"; a club chant includes the proposition that being kissed by a smooth face is akin to "meat without the salt".
The world's oldest whisker club, the Handlebar Club was founded in a London pub in April 1947 by a convivial gathering of ten, including raconteurs Jimmy Edwards and Frank Muir as well as sports commentator Raymond Glendenning. Their stated intention was to show that "men with moustaches are men of good character", and the mustachioed cohort resolved to meet monthly for "sport, conviviality" and charitable engagements. Enormous moustaches were quite popular among the flying officers of the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, and in founding the club Edwards sought to perpetuate the custom. The Strand Magazine greeted the establishment as "an indication that Handlebars have outlived their time", interpreting the preponderance of "men with a distinctive type of face-wear" banding together as a sign of weakness.
The club was founded in April 1947 in the dressing room of comedian Jimmy Edwards at The Windmill Theatre in London. There were 10 founder members, including Jimmy Edwards, Raymond Glendenning, and Frank Muir. The minutes of that first meeting are in the Club archives and it appears that although there was a goodly number of founder members they were outnumbered by chorus girls!
The object of the Club was, and still is, to bring together moustache wearers (beards being strictly prohibited) socially for sport and general conviviality. The aim of the Club was to assist by all means at its disposal, any worthy charity or cause, particularly those devoted to ex-servicemen. This aim still remains today and it has helped particularly with children's charities.
Ever since the early days of the club, it has held a London meeting on the first Friday of the month, and for over ten years the venue has been The Windsor Castle Pub, 27-29 Crawford Place, Marylebone, London W1H 4LQ. This is a typical English pub, full of memorabilia, having on display various Handlebar Club trophies and photographs.
- Delaney, Sam (September 25, 2004). "Growing interest". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "London’s Handlebar Club campaigns against sacking of Indian airline steward". The Economic Times. 16 Feb 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- Peterkin, Allan (2001). One Thousand Beards. Arsenal Pulp Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 1-55152-107-5.
- Shephard, Arla (July 11, 2008). "Mustaches and beards face off in friendly contest". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- Lowbridge, Caroline (November 1, 2008). "Ex-city PC with a handle on facial hair!". Nottingham Evening Post.
- "Germany lead world - by a whisker". Daily News. December 28, 2004. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Between Ourselves (Winnipeg: Trans-Canada Airlines). 1948. Missing or empty
- Harrison, Brian (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 469. ISBN 0-19-861372-5.
- Warner, Jack (1975). Jack of All Trades. W.H. Allen / Virgin Books. p. 87. ISBN 0-491-01952-1. OCLC 1529779.
- The Strand Magazine (George Newnes) 114 (682). October 1947. Missing or empty
- Official website
- "I don't really do very much, I just preside"
- The Handlebar Club Exclusive Interview by How To Grow A Moustache By Douglas Smythe - March 9, 2013