20 Unusual Clubs That Actually Exist
Did you know there's a club for people who have been ejected out of a plane, and an organization for people who are just ... happy? Read on to find out about those clubs and more in this list adapted from The List Show on YouTube.
1. Martin-Baker Ejection Tie Club
Pilots who activated their Martin-Baker ejection seats and lived to tell the tale are officially inducted into the Martin-Baker Ejection Tie Club. After surviving their harrowing ordeal, pilots receive a tie, tie pin, patch, certificate, and membership card to commemorate the event. Each item is emblazoned with the red triangle icon that signifies ejection seats. So far, there are more than 6000 registered members of the Ejection Tie Club.
2. The Caterpillar Club
The Caterpillar Club, founded in 1922, is a worldwide organization for military and commercial aviators who had a life-saving experience with a parachute. Why caterpillar? At the time, parachutes were made from silk—so the metaphor of a caterpillar spinning a safe cocoon, then emerging from it to take flight, was an apt one. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 people have been part of the Caterpillar Club over the years, including George H.W. Bush and Charles Lindbergh.
3. The Shuttlecock Club
The Shuttlecock Club has nothing to do with badminton—it’s actually an exclusive society for anyone who has crashed at the Shuttlecock corner on the Cresta Run sledding track in Switzerland. One of the last natural ice tracks in the world, the Cresta Run in St. Moritz spans about three-quarters of a mile with an elevation drop of 514 feet. The Shuttlecock is an infamous corner of the run designed to stop out-of-control riders. If they can’t make the corner, riders launch off the side and land in a pile of snow and straw to cushion the fall. But it’s not exactly a soft landing. People who have “failed” the corner say it’s like falling out of an aircraft (although, unless they’re Caterpillar Club material, we’re not sure how they would know). As consolation, all failures are inducted into the Club and are entitled to wear a Shuttlecock tie, available at the Cresta Run gift shop.
4. The Sons of Lee Marvin
You can’t really choose to join The Sons of Lee Marvin—genetics choose you, because the club includes anyone who, according to film director Jim Jarmusch, has, "a facial structure such that you could be related to, or be a son of, Lee Marvin," the American actor who appeared in films like The Wild One and Cat Ballou. Known or rumored members of this club—which was created by Jarmusch—include Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Josh Brolin, and Iggy Pop. Fun fact: Waits once designed business cards for all of the Sons. One person who isn’t particularly amused by the club is Lee Marvin’s actual son, who once cornered Waits at a bar and demanded to know if they were making fun of his father.
5. The Bohemian Club
The secretive, male-only Bohemian gathers once a year to camp on 2700 acres they own in the Bohemian Grove forest in Sonoma County, California. To do what? No one is quite sure, but rumors abound. It’s said that some of the Manhattan Project was planned at the site. Notable members and guests have included Herbert Hoover, William Randolph Hearst, Jack London, Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, and Ronald Reagan.
6. The Belizean Grove
The Belizean Grove is the female-only answer to the Bohemian Club, but with a more public mission: To help women leaders build trusted relationships with each other, and to help rising stars get to the top. Members have included Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and U.S. Army General Ann Dunwoody.
7. The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists
Are you a scientist? Do you have an inexplicably gorgeous mane of hair? Then you might be a great candidate for the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. There are just four steps standing between you and membership: Photo evidence of said luxuriant, flowing hair (there's a strict below-the-clavicle rule); knowing which hair clubs you want to join—the LFHCS has subchapters for flowing facial hair, formerly flowing hair, for science journalists, and more; a link to a site, such as your employer, that legitimizes your scientific credentials; and a pithy statement about why you belong. Good luck with your application!
8. Project Steve
The LFHCS isn’t the only weird club scientists can join. If you’re a scientist, and your name is Steve, Project Steve may be right up your alley. It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek undertaking by people who wanted to prove that it’s easy for creationists to get hundreds of scientist signatures on anti-evolution statements. The sheer number can make it seem like evolution is being seriously questioned by professionals, when it’s really not. Project Steve shows that hundreds of scientists’ signatures can be gathered without proving anything ... except how easy it is to get those signatures. If you’re a Steve, Steven, Stephen with a “ph,” Stephanie, Esteban, or any other variation, you’re welcome to join Project Steve, which even has its own theme song: “The Steve Song,” of course.
9. The Order of the Occult Hand
The Order of the Occult Hand is open to any journalist or writer who can manage to work the phrase “It was as if an occult hand had ...” into their writing and get it published. The strange tradition began in the 1960s and spread as reporters and journalists moved to new publications.
The phrase has appeared in newspapers like The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and many, many more. It’s been used in small-town crime reports and by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Greenberg. But since the Order was exposed in 2004, it’s as if the occult hand has turned on itself—the odd wording doesn’t turn up as much as it once did. According to Greenberg, the Order has chosen a new piece of overwrought language journalists must sneak into publications for admission into the club. Two rejected options were "hanging over the scene like a shroud" and "like a soft, warm, weird breeze blowing aimlessly through the palms." The phrase actually chosen remains a mystery.
10. The British Lawn Mower Racing Association
The British Lawn Mower Racing Association was founded in 1973. As their website says, the pastime has “spread like crabgrass,” and now you can join Official Lawn Mower Racing Associations in the U.S., Germany, Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. If you don’t necessarily want to join the LMRA, but you do want to stay current on standings (obviously), be sure to check out their blog: The Cutting Edge.
11. The Not Terribly Good Club
Do you find yourself failing at things again and again, almost comically? Then you would have been a perfect candidate for The Not Terribly Good Club. British journalist Stephen Pile started the club in the late ‘70s for people who were, well, just not terribly good at things. To prove they were worthy, members had to tell their tales at meetings. Pile later turned some of the more famous examples into a series of books: 2011’s The Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures includes a doozy, from 1999, when a family planning agency distributed condoms stapled to a pamphlet about STDs, perforating the condoms and making them a not-terribly-good form of contraception. As for the club? It disbanded when membership surged, making itself successful—and therefore ineligible to exist. Maybe it’s time to start it back up, using the argument that the Not Terribly Good Club is not terribly good at following its own rules.
12. The Association of Dead People
The Association of Dead People isn’t what you think: Being alive is actually a requirement to belong. In the mid-‘70s, Lal Bihar discovered that he was dead ... on paper. In order to inherit Bihar’s share of the family’s ancestral homeland, a relative of Bihar’s had had him declared deceased. It took a staggering 17 years for Bihar to undo what his relative had done. Frustrated with the extremely slow process to get himself declared alive again, Bihari formed an advocacy group to help others going through the same thing.
13. The UK Roundabout Appreciation Society
Where some people see an unremarkable traffic feature, the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society sees beauty. Proclaiming the humble circular intersection as an “oasis on a sea of tarmac,” the UK RAS admires the beauty of roundabouts big and small. The president of the association is called the Lord of the Rings.
14. The Society of Happy People
If you’re happy and you know it, join the Society of Happy People. Founded in the late ‘90s—a time when it was cool to be blasé—as The Secret Society of Happy People, the group really found its footing when they challenged Ann Landers on a piece of advice she gave readers. The columnist told people it was best to keep good news to themselves when writing holiday letters, which made the Secret Society very unhappy indeed. The press picked up the clash, and the resulting publicity made membership skyrocket.
15. The Extreme Ironing Bureau
If you love ironing as much as you love rock climbing, combine your two passions with the Extreme Ironing Bureau, a group of very tidy adventurers. Extreme ironing began in Leicester, England, when rock climber Phil Shaw decided the chore would be much more enjoyable outside, and dragged his ironing board out to his garden. The idea exploded from there, and soon, he had recruited people to fight wrinkles while skiing the French Alps, at the basecamp of Everest, and even while base jumping.
16. The 20-Minute Society
The 20-Minute Society at England’s Newcastle University is all about surprise and delight, emphasis on the surprise. Every two to three weeks, its members receive a text providing a location they must arrive at within 20 minutes. From pub meetups to ice skating, members never know what they’re in for. The club also holds an annual formal event and has a drawing for a mystery vacation once a year. The randomness of the society has proved popular, with more sprouting up across the UK all the time.
17. The 300 Club
Simply having an adventurous spirit isn’t enough to get into The 300 Club. The opportunity to gain membership in this exclusive group happens when temperatures in Antarctica reach -100°F. After roasting in a 200°F sauna at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, those attempting to join the club must go streaking outside around the ceremonial South Pole (with shoes on, if that’s any consolation). One participant said it felt like “somebody was hitting me with a tennis racket full of needles.”
18. Putney High Tide Club
No one wants a Putney High Tide Club Membership. Members are involuntarily inducted when they park too close to the Thames in the Putney district of London and fail to move their cars before the tide comes in. Members are inducted via photos on the official Putney High Tide Club pages on Twitter and Facebook.
19. The Rubble Club
Gatherings of the Rubble Club are probably slightly sad affairs. Members of the club are architects who created buildings they believed to be permanent, only to see them intentionally destroyed within their lifetimes. (Accidental fires don’t count.) There’s no official club membership, the Rubble Club secretary told us, saying, “We are unique in that self-knowledge is the only route to membership!”
20. The Cloud Appreciation Society
Who doesn’t love a beautiful cloud? The Cloud Appreciation Society takes it a step further. Their manifesto states that they believe that clouds are unjustly maligned, that they are expressions of the atmosphere’s moods, and that those who contemplate the shapes in clouds will save money on therapy bills. If your head is always in the clouds, this is just the society for you. Your membership will include a pin, a certificate, and a cloud selector identification wheel.