The Remarkable World of London Societies
Take advantage of the scores of casual clubs dedicated to constructive time-filling.
For as long as there have been cities, there have been groups of people with similar interests organizing themselves into societies to further their understanding of a hobby and socialise with like-minded individuals. Where once these were either advertised in local pubs or the reserve of closed-door, private societies, the rise of social media has had a hugely positive effect on their organisation. It is now easier than ever before to find the perfect society to join. London is particularly good for the existence of societies due to its huge population and cultural diversity. There are societies for those interesting in sport, tech entrepreneurs, writers, artists, wine connoisseurs, Lego enthusiasts and many many more. Chances are, if you can think of it, it’s out there. It would be impossible to give a full list of every society worth joining in London, so here is a small cross-section representing the greater tableau of diverse interests.
Appreciate the subtleties and significance of one of Britain’s greatest mystical artistic minds at the Blake Society. A healthy mid-way point between the professional and the amateur is reached by the members of the Blake Society due to their varied fellows. This is one of the more established literary societies in London who run sponsorship of contemporary Blake-esque artists, publish a journal, and are currently running a program to try buy Blake’s cottage Felpham. Aside from discussion groups, they curate and host audio and video recordings of Blake’s work, have managed to discover the exact location of William Blake’s grave, and occasionally work with the Royal Navy to recreate Blake’s river journey of 1780.
Hone your logic skills at the Metropolitan Chess Club. Having been founded in 1890, this club is one of the oldest in London. They are based centrally in Petticoat Square, intermittently meeting at the Barbican or attending an away tournament. A small society of around 50 members, they welcome new players and offer tutoring to those either unfamiliar with the game or who want to sharpen their tactics. Thursday nights belong to the Metropolitan Chess Club. They are involved in running both friendly and national chess tournaments, often going head-to-head with competing London chess clubs.
Become the most dextrous of your friends at Badminton Social. Conveniently based at several locations in central London, Badminton Social is the largest of the (surprisingly numerous) badminton societies in the capital. Boasting just under 2,500 members, you can chose from singles and mixed doubles matches that cater to all levels of ability. They go above and beyond the call of duty, offering tutoring sessions every other Sunday for this whimsical sport that originated in colonial India in the mid-1800s. Players are welcome to bring their own feathers (presumably attached to the shuttlecock, although this is not specified).
Flex your mental muscles pondering the fate of mankind at a meeting of the London Futurists. A decidedly updated continuation of their early 20th century counterparts, their focus is less on political fascism, and far more upon a reasoned discussion about the role technology is going to play in our lives. Responding to very real, increasingly immediate concerns such as the limits of AI, the replacement of human jobs by machines, and the future of resource allocation, the London Futurists put fourth analytic responses through their debate forums. They take a refreshingly empirical approach to socio-political issues, aiming to dispel sensationalism and structure arguments upon quantifiable scientific evidence. Previous meetings have been on the topics of ‘Surviving AI: The promise and peril of artificial intelligence’, ‘The Future of Bioethics’, and ‘Secularism, Liberalism, and the Human Future’. Appropriately, videos of their past meetings are available online, and they also host web meetings via Google+ and Youtube.
Get on your bike and take a ride with the Richmond Park Rouleurs. They’re a friendly group of cycling enthusiasts who have a clear ‘leave no one behind’ ethos. Whether you’re looking to train for a competitive event or simply want to brush up on your cycling skills, they have group for everyone. The decision to base their society in Richmond Park is much to the delight of all members, regardless of their address, as it is by far one of the largest and most beautiful parks in London. On top of the actual rides, they also have social gatherings at the pub and cycling holidays.