Tips on Starting Your Own Group

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All clubs need a little structure to be successful. Think back to student government elections: There was a president, a vice president (in case the president got chickenpox), treasurer, secretary, etc. But too much structure is anti-rock, so we don't have officers; we have guidelines. For all you D.C. government types, we'll try to put it in terms you understand.

-- D.C. Rock Club

Constitution: Have some rules or guidelines and be consistent. Decide how often you'll go to shows -- once a week, once every two weeks, once every quarter, etc. -- and stick to it. If you lose this regularity, then you're just a bunch of dudes who occasionally go out to shows. That's fine, but you're not a rock club.

Diplomacy: Have understanding wives or girlfriends. We invite ours out to a few shows, but for the most part they usually pat us on the head and send us off into the night to enjoy some obscure band. If your significant other is clingy and exhibits fascist tendencies, you may want to reconsider starting a rock club. Or you may want to reconsider your relationship.

Congressional record or archives: Keep a written record of your experiences. You'll forget what happened otherwise. Was it the Sleater-Kinney show where that fat dude passed out in a pool of his own vomit? Or was that Morrissey? We started a blog, but you can make like Bridget Jones and keep a journal if you like.

Commerce: Develop an efficient system for buying drinks at the bar. Here's what we do: Each member takes turns buying a round. He buys four of the same drinks -- his choice. Efficiency is king, as special orders get ignored. "I'd like a Stoli with cranberry and a splash of soda water" becomes "Here's your beer, jackass." When buying tickets for the others, it's best to accept cash only. Tickets can be used as payment for other goods and services, but inevitably someone will get drunk and forget, and nobody likes to fight over money.

Quorums and proxies: Having too few members nullifies an official outing. Sometimes you need to pick a different show to be sure enough members can make it. A member of your club may not be able to make it because "little Timmy is playing first bench warmer tonight, and I really need to be there to cheer him on." You need a couple of standby associates who can fill in to keep your club viable.

Meeting house: Have a home base. Most shows we attend are near U Street NW (9:30 club, Black Cat, Velvet Lounge, etc.). We are lucky that one of our members lives in the area, so we're able to meet before the show and have a beer and catch up with one another. Conversation is difficult at the venues once the band starts playing, so get your insults and jokes out before the show.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company