I’ve been visiting the Rand Club, one of Joburg’s most historic buildings, for years.
I’ve blogged about the club before and gone there for various events, which I always enjoy. But I hadn’t considered joining the Rand Club until last month, while I was getting a pedicure.
Let me back up a bit.
A few years ago, while touring the Rand Club, I met a woman named Alicia Thompson. Alicia is a member at the club and we became friends. Alicia mentioned she runs her own spa business and I started going for pedicures at her small spa in Albertville.
During one of these pedicures, Alicia told me she recently became the Rand Club’s new chairperson. She is the first Black person and only the second woman to chair the club, which is really freaking cool. Cecil John Rhodes founded the Rand Club in 1887 (just a year after Joburg was founded), and it was a men-only, whites-only club for the first 100-plus years of its existence.
Then Alicia started telling me about all the cool things happening at the club right now. I got super excited, and a couple of weeks later I joined.
Joining the Rand Club
Becoming a member of a club has never been one of my life goals. It seemed like something my grandparents or great-grandparents would (and did) do — to gain access to a golf course, or a fancy dining room in the days before restaurants were a thing, or to network with other (white) people. What reason did I have to join such a club in the 21st century?
But the more I spoke to Alicia, the more I started thinking about how remarkable it is that the Rand Club has stood for the entire, tumultuous history of this city — especially over the last couple of decades as countless big companies and institutions have fled the Joburg CBD. The club survives, right in the center of downtown Joburg, because its members have overcome adversity (including a huge fire in 2005, which nearly destroyed the building), and adapted to the new South Africa in their own unique way.
Today the Rand Club is not only surviving, but thriving. I want to be part of what’s happening there, to encourage more development in the neighborhood, and to help the club continue to become more diverse and inclusive. And after two years of pandemic isolation, I need a little push to get back out into the city and have more fun.
There are also lots of fun, tangible benefits to being a Rand Club member, which costs R860 (about $50) per month. The benefits below are just a small sample; see more here (this list is in the process of being updated).
1) 25% off at the restaurant, which is now open to the public and serves really good food.
2) 25% off the club’s beautiful, brand-new boutique hotel rooms (also open to the public), and you get a free stay every year for your birthday. (More to come on this soon, as I have a birthday coming up.)
3) Access to the books in the Rand Club’s members-only library, which is a treasure trove for bibliophiles. The club also houses two incredible bookstores: Bridge Books (which I’ve blogged about numerous times) and James Findlay Collectable Books and Antique Maps, which I blogged about here.
4) Discounts on tailoring, barbering, and styling at the insanely cool ManMade Executive studios, which is inside the Rand Club.
5) Reciprocity at a huge list of other clubs all over the world. This means you can stay at these clubs for the same discounted price as its local members.
6) Access to events, including members-only events and public events that members can attend for free. I’m going to my first wine-tasting on 21 July.
Can you tell I’m excited about the Rand Club? You’ll be hearing more from me about it in the future.