That's the sign that greeted me at the last 'Club' I visited. The incessant radio advertisements had told me the same.
So off I went, same day of the week as usual, same group of friends - to have a bit of a dance and enjoy same bowl of chips and ungainly handle of beer - at the same club (for maybe the 100th time).
Welcome? I think not. It turns out that my membership card had expired. It was issued by a different club (that would be an affiliate). I didn't know this - and clearly the super duper highly technical computer system that has registered me countless times before didn't care. There was much sighing and sucking of teeth by the lady behind the bullet proof glass with the slide across speakery thing (seems that clubs full of old people are very dodgy places these days).
It wasn't possible to let me in you see, because they couldn't confirm I was a member of anywhere. No, an expired card wasn't good enough. No, I couldn't just renew my old membership for that place on the day, there was a process to follow. No, I couldn't go in and find a friend to sign me it (the electric doors stayed firmly shut and the security guard ensured I didn't get too close - heaven forbid I might make a run for it!) No, I couldn't wait inside in the warm whilst they checked things out - for that would mean letting me past guard, cats bum lipped receptionist AND the auto door. Well yes, she could, she supposed, ring my own club and confirm I was a member.
Much ado followed - it would seem that my own club do not follow quite the same strict rules, and, good grief, did not have someone manning the phone at 9 pm on a Friday night to ensure that crazy rebels like me didn't sneak through without a card. It took three phone calls, and an ever increasing tightening of those lips before finally, thankfully, someone answered the darn phone at the other place. Only they couldn't really help, because you see there was some problem with their card system, so sorry it wasn't possible to tell if my membership was current or not.
In frustration, I went outside, banged on the glass window (much to the consternation of the octogenarians sitting beside it) and gestured to my Friends to come and sign me in. And lo, I was in. So quick, so painless in the end. Although cats bum lips did remind me that it was VITAL that I had the membership issue sorted out so that such instances didn't happen again, and REALLY what kind of place were they running out in the sticks and HONESTLY you'd think it wouldn't be that hard.
She was absolutely right. It really shouldn't be that hard. It's no wonder that service clubs have a dwindling membership if it's that difficult to get in the door. I understand that there are certain rules and standards that go with membership organisations. But seriously - the kind of people who frequent these places - or who might, if only they didn't have to overcome a cold war to do so - are hardly going to be causing mayhem.
Sure, give members 'special privileges' like cheap drinks, or meat raffles, or their own special beer glass. But if you want normal, sober, people like me to come and spend money at your club, if a warm welcome is out of the question, at least make it easy for me to get in the door.