Join Date: Jul 2009
Originally Posted by gosuckonalemon
"Pass the brandy and cigars – a new men-only club has opened in Dublin, but workshops and demonstrations are on these gentlemen’s agenda, writes ALAN O'RIORDAN
IT’S ALL ABOUT “the pursuit of things gentlemanly”, says James English of the Gentlemen’s Academy. English comes from London, so maybe it’s easier for him to say this kind of thing with a straight face.
But perhaps he and Chewy, co-founder of the Gentlemen’s Academy, a “learning institution devoted to style, manhood and merriment”, have a point. After all, the idea of exclusively male company hasn’t had fabulous press since about the time of Classical Greece. We don’t think high-minded pursuits and shared enthusiasms, we think stag weekends, lads watching the match down the pub, Toys 4 Big Boys.
This is where the Gentlemen’s Academy comes in. As Chewy puts it: “I don’t like Champions League night. No interest. And a lot of my friends do. They’ll sit there every Wednesday, 15 guys in the Portobello, almost in silence, skulling pints, and that’s the Wednesday night. But there’s a different way, one that’s not really catered for. I mean, we’re still young; we don’t want to be joining a golf club, but we do want to get together.”
The Gentlemen’s Academy have been getting together for a few months now. They’ve had a lecture on Irish literary history, a cheese night, and a dinner at the Sett Food Club. There’s an astronomy evening planned, a philosophy night, some fly fishing, and a hunter-gatherer weekend at a country house.
Each event has a contribution from a member, or from an independent business, such as clothing store Indigo Cloth, the Wine Buff, or Sheridans Cheesemongers.
Tonight’s event is Mixology, hosted by Paul Lambert, a world-class cocktail man who works in the Blind Pig bar. About 15 members are present: the kind of men you see in cardigans, jackets and perhaps sockless boat shoes going purposefully about Dublin 2 by night and by day.
We settle in with a spiced mule, before Lambert introduces two hours of demonstration, do-it-yourself, and drinking. It’s informative, fun and, dare I say it, an edifying way to get tipsy on a Monday night. There aren’t any strawberry daiquiris, only old school booze-heavy (manly?) cocktails, such as the bittered sling – it is one of the very first cocktails, and is so old that the name once described any mixture of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. See – you can learn something while lashing back cognac- and bourbon-based concoctions.
Peter, a first timer, says he’d been sceptical about the gender-segregation aspect. But by the end of the evening, he’s admitting: “I’m sold.” But there was a time, a generation ago or so, when young, style-conscious and aspirational young men were in revolt against patriarchy in all its forms. For them, the idea of a gentlemen’s anything would have been anathema. Now, ideas of manliness and manhood are back on the agenda.
As Chewy says: “There was all that BS of the last 10 years about the metrosexual: men asserting themselves by wearing pink. We’ve gone through all that, come out the other side, maybe harking back a bit. I never thought of it being sexist. Some of the girls we know do their own thing, we’re not invited. Women are good at organising. They go and do things together. We wanted something like that because our nights out just weren’t appealing any more.”
While membership has doubled in a few months, James and Chewy say they don’t want to be “too big too early”. But their website goes live this month, and they see that as being a “go-to site, for Irish men by Irish-based men”.
“Men like to be part of a group,” English chimes in. “And I think as we get older our thirst for education increases. For us, it’s about going into Fallon Byrne and knowing what cheese to buy, and what wine goes with it. It’s about practical and academic skills.”
Like the events, James says the site will have contributions from members and experts, and will be an outlet for independent businesses. They are also planning Dublin’s first Man Fair.
“You’ve the wedding fairs, Toys 4 Big Boys,” says James, “so we wanted something tailored towards men with similar tastes: small Irish designers, food.”
“We’re not talking the RDS just yet,” says Chewy. And, no doubt, you’d probably want to look elsewhere for a woman in a bikini stretched over a Lamborghini. But if it’s a break from lad culture you’re after, a place for grown-up manly pursuits, then maybe the Gentlemen’s Academy will be worth keeping an eye on."
I have never read such pretentious wank in all my life.
The "pursuit of all things gentlemanly" for fcuks sake!
Is the journalist a brother of Alison by any chance?
This has given me a huge laugh !