Neo-tribalism has taken hold of the culture and the need for human connection is greater than ever, with everyone scrambling to find their tribe. Straits Clan, which opened in Singapore early this year, is a response to this hunger for community. Housed in a refurbished row of shophouses along Bukit Pasoh Road, the private club sits handsomely among the other heritage buildings, looking regal and welcoming.
But Straits Clan is meant to be more just a pretty facade, says Pauline Wee, director of content and communication at the club.
She explains: “We serve as the catalyst, providing an exclusive environment where people will feel at ease to strike up a conversation with each other. At the same time, the people we bring together have a common goal — they are people who are curious, interesting and driving change; who want to grow and be inspired.”
Diversity is celebrated
In order to achieve this vision, Straits Clan wants to attract the “new generation of movers and shakers, regardless of industry, age or economics.” This includes those who might not typically be able to afford a private club membership.
“[Our membership] fee is lower for those under 30 and those under the non-profit sector,” says Pauline. “This has helped us create a community of socially and intellectually curious individuals who want to venture outside their circles or professions and build connections in a genuine and meaningful way.”
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The result is an eclectic mix of creatives, businesspersons and movers and shakers across all industries. “We’ve got members who are corporate lawyers by day and poets by lunch, hedge fund managers who are art patrons, architects with a passion for politics,” says Pauline.
“What they have in common is shared passions and an entrepreneurial mindset, and when you bring a group of like-minded people together great conversations and connections happen.”
A beautiful space and excellent amenities facilitate creative collaboration
Given its tropical vibe, bright interiors and bold design elements, Straits Clan could easily be mistaken for a beach resort. Designed with help from Singapore-based design firm Takenouchi Webb, there are many nods to Southeast Asian and Singaporean culture, from the use of rattan and onyx to the cheeky meeting room that converts into a mahjong room.
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The club also boasts a boutique gym that offers small group classes and private trainers, a foot reflexology spa where you can also get your nails done, party rooms for karaoke or cocktails (one of the rooms even has a pole dancing platform), three dining concepts, including a bar stocked with rare whiskies and wines, and a cosy co-working space.
“It’s a home away from home as well as an office away from the office,” says Pauline. Members are put at ease, primed for a great time. That’s when the magic happens.
Thoughtful programming keeps the community engaged
Here, there are many opportunities for its members to meet and socialise. This includes a rotating roster of talks, showcases, performances and workshops. Members also get to network with leaders in business and other sectors of society during talks that cover topics such as culture, well-being and philanthropic causes.
Pauline happily rattles off a list of notable examples: a sharing session over breakfast about building teams with famed New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer, a heartfelt speech by Matthieu Ricard on how altruism can change businesses and the world; an off-the-record conversation on building brand loyalty with Bruce Rockowitz, Global Brands Group CEO and Pure Group co-founder; and an evening at the bar with signature snacks served by Isaac McHale of UK’s best restaurant The Clove Club.
One that left a lasting impression on her was an intimate acoustic performance and sharing by singer-songwriter Sam Beam (better known as Iron & Wine). “He has a rich repertoire of stories that he tells with humility and sincerity,” she says. “His acoustic session at Straits Clan gave him the space and freedom for his personality to shine through in a genuine and heartfelt way.”
The club also hosts regular dialogue sessions for members to tackle complex issues such as making impact investing scalable, how the arts can be a platform for changing mindsets on the elderly, and the influence of popular culture on local food businesses.
“And many of [our members] continue the conversation beyond these events,” says Pauline. “It’s a fulfilling way for them to contribute to a shared cause and explore their creative energy which also enables them to build their personal and professional network meaningfully.”
Words by Davelle Lee
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