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04.06.2018

The light clickety-click of a fresh-faced receptionist’s heels complements the new-magazine smell of the Quorum. We prepare to be stopped, maybe even asked to display a heavy platinum card to counter our non-conformist maxi dresses, but no such thing happens. The owner Vivek Narain - the man and face behind the Q - is out to lunch; luckily for us, he’s left a message that we overhear: let them in.

The Quorum, a members-only establishment, bills itself as India’s first “urban lifestyle” club: a tag line that DGC habitués might have to read twice. It’s a change for those of us who think Clubs are colonial inheritances that allow us (well, “Us”) to freely trade on legacies of inequality, liquidating third-generation privilege into 40-rupee vodkas.

In this, the Quorum is a kind of 21st century, millennial-happy version of the Club: rather than generational wealth, there is explicit attention on the individual, self-made, in the present. While who-your-father-is remains an inescapable fact, the Q says it welcomes people who can leave that behind if they’ve had it, or build from scratch if they never did. What counts, the receptionist tells me, is ‘curiosity.’ Other capitalist-at-leisure phrases like ‘a passion for work,’ and ‘work-life balance’ also make an appearance in her soft, polished spiel as she describes the Q’s ideal member. All this, while showing us around the gorgeous 22,000sq ft. space - it looks like something between a city mansion and a docked cruise.

She lets us take the lead, exercising patience as we stop to applaud all the ways in which the place is sophisticated and cozy at the same time. Private meeting rooms flow in to large communal spaces; a botanical-inspired café calls up an image of a happy family at Saturday brunch; an almost-ready gym feels like a place where sweat equity is negotiated and released. We move unrestricted, gravitating towards the brilliantly-papered walls, and catch whiffs of charged conversation, interspersed with professionally appropriate laughter.

***

Like the Soho House model, the idea of community is central to the Quorum: the people make the place, or so the new-age brand story goes. The Q already has 200-plus members, aged between 26 and 81 (although we suspect the average age is a little older than the founders like). In addition, these members are said to have access to a network of similar lifestyle clubs across the world.

Over lunch, problematizing the word ‘corporate’ pairs well with fabulous Bloody Marys. While we can see what the staff mean by delicately rejecting the flatness of the word, the pulse of the place is not one that beats without serious capital: at Rs 2.25 lakhs as a starting fee, with a Rs 90,000 annual, the quest for “interesting people” and “cool professionals” is not as light as it seems. While the ostensible goal may be to incorporate wild diversity in this top-shelf liquor-loving democracy, the image of a Magnolias-residing CEO who talks about seed funding and his PADI diving course in one breath lingers, overpowering.

What is light, and begs to be left unproblematized, is the stellar food. Presented on two cleanly-edited menus, we note habit-forming, delicious sounding dishes that are refreshingly reasonable and diverse. Our order - a homemade veggie burger, smoked salmon salad, and Baileys ice cream for dessert - strongly affirms that the Q’s got serious culinary muscle, and is happy to flex it.

We finish our bite, catching the polished receptionist for a final thank you and goodbye. She hands us some beautifully printed papers detailing the price of Gurgaon cool. We look through it in the car, calculating our desires to (ever) be okay working out next to an investor, the cost of eating amazing linguine everyday, and what remains unchanged when it comes to even the newest of Clubs.

Getting there: The Quorum, first floor, Two Horizon Centre, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon. See here for membership details; a meal for two with drinks cost Rs 3,500.

Accessibility: Easy; there’s elevator access.

While we were recognised, bpb paid for the meal.

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