ML - Michigan Avenue

2013 - Issue 5 - September

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 135 of 163

The club is also the setting for plenty of deal brokering such as trial preparation, leadership forums, and client negotiations. Famous sports figures have signed their contracts in the Standard's meeting rooms, though Thompson and Gina Ciaccio, membership and programming director, remain silent when asked who those athletes might be. It satisfies them to simply describe their prominent members as those who "prefer to fly beneath the radar." Discretion is priority one at these institutions, which have been frequented by such Chicago cornerstones as Schwaab, Foreman, and Florsheim—and now their modern counterparts. The Standard has always been tight-lipped about its membership and finances, but Ciaccio says they've seen positive growth in both their female and under-35 member categories. Currently, membership is available to anyone 21 years of age or older, regardless of demographics, provided three existing members sponsor the candidate. Character requirements, of course, remain stringent. "Prospective members are screened, so we know they're reputable members of society," Thompson explains. "Philanthropy and ethics are focuses here, and people who don't have these probably won't feel comfortable here—and probably won't make it through the process." One of the things the club has done to attract up-and-coming candidates is to mirror the desires of its members. Thompson picks up a table menu and rattles off a list of quesadillas, sliders, mini chardogs, and sweet potato fries. "Ten years ago, this would have been steak tartare and oysters on the half shell," he says. The Standard has taken the same approach with its attire rules, slightly unbuttoning the dress code to match the loosened collars of its evolving membership. "It's a balancing act. We try to achieve a mix of formal and informal to keep our members happy." Plenty of old-world charm still remains, however. Thompson intimates that the event of the year is the Standard's legendary Boxing Night, when club members turn out in full regalia to watch fighters duke it out. Vantage Points FROM TOP: Built in 1909, the University Club's 12-story Gothic skyscraper is an artwork in itself, as are its ornate ceiling and the paintings in its gallery. Though nearly all of the city clubs share an appreciation for art, there are two that stand out for their singular focus: The Cliff Dwellers and the aptly named The Arts Club of Chicago. On the urban precipice that is its 22th-floor clubhouse on Michigan Avenue, the Cliff Dwellers gather for a lecture about Lorado Taft, a founding member of the society and the sculptor responsible for the famous Fountain of Time in Chicago's Midway Plaisance. The club exists as a cultivator for the arts, welcoming working writers, painters, musicians, and others as well as affluent art lovers who want to act as patrons. Though the clubhouse itself is modest, with a bar, dining room, and reading nook (in addition to a breathtaking aerial view of the waterfront and sprawling greenery of Grant Park), the society's roots are far from low profile, with names like Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Carl Sandburg marking its pedigree. In recent years, the club has dealt with uncertainty: whether its lease would be renewed and how to attract new members. The Cliff Dwellers require their candidates to be 25 or older, and sponsored by two current members. Numbers are on the climb, according to President Leslie Recht, and the membership stands at about 400, split evenly between residents and out-of-towners who have continued their support. Recht believes increased membership will come from performing its mission of supporting the arts. The Cliff Dwellers have followed through in that regard, in part by renovating the clubhouse, 134 MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM 130-137_MA_FEAT_Culture_Sept_13.indd 134 8/7/13 7:44 PM

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