Jaci Stephen: ‘The LA Country Club bans tops that expose the midriff. Hypocrites’

Way Out West
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The Independent Online

Do you have lots of friends?” people back home keep asking. “What’s the social life like?” “Where do you go in the evenings?

I must sound incredibly dull to my UK friends, whose idea of LA is party, party, party, hanging out with the beautiful people and devouring burgers as big as your head.

But the truth is, I live a fairly quiet life. I came here to write, and that, apart from daily trips to the gym, is pretty much all I do. As I eat so healthily now, I bought a juicer, which took up days of socialising, albeit just with me and it, when I discovered that you need 40 sacks of carrot to extract one tablespoon of juice

Los Angeles, though, is like one vast convenience store, and I now buy my fresh carrot juice just half a dozen doors away in Whole Foods; the only disadvantage is that it doesn’t come with the virtue of burning off 20,000 calories a throw in the effort and time it takes to squeeze enough for one glass.

But there is more to life than work and carrot juice, and so this week I started exploring the possibilities of widening my social circle.

Having written off language classes (although given how much trouble everyone has understanding my accent, I might enrol for English next term), I went to the website of the most famous private establishment, the LA Country Club.

There is very little information about the Club’s activities on the website, but the hefty section devoted to dress code soon reveals why: by the time you work through what you can and can’t wear, you’d be too exhausted to do anything else.

Let’s take the men’s attire, for starters. Shirts, for example, must have sleeves and collars and be “worn inside one’s trousers” (Eh? The whole shirt? Sleeves and collars, too? Perhaps “tucked in” might have explained things better, or maybe I am missing some very “in” LA fashion statement about stuffing your lunchbox to the seams?).

Their slacks must be of “a tailored nature” (they would be, given the way they pack those lunch-boxes) and any caps (although none are allowed indoors) must be worn “with the bill forward”. As I have no desire to meet any man who wears a cap of any sorts, the idea that they might even be hanging around is enough to put me off.

But not as much as the women’s rules regarding attire do. I swear that fighting for my country in Afghanistan would not require so long a list of rules and regulations. The one that immediately put me off was the one about no tops that “expose the midriff” being allowed. Well, that’s it then. I can presume from this that I wouldn’t be allowed to get my tits out for the lads. Cardiff Blues Rugby Club it clearly ain’t.

However, “Formal or evening strapless attire is permitted.” This seems a bit hypocritical: no tummies, so no going UP your top for the multitude of groping men that are always a feature of private clubs, but it’s totally acceptable to go DOWN your top, minus the inconvenience of straps, provided it’s after 6pm.

Skirts must be “no shorter than 4” above the knee”, which rules out my entire wardrobe going back over 30 years; and slacks “must be tailored and within 6” of the ankle.” What on earth does that mean? Six inches in circumference, length, or 6” lying beside you when you’ve not only taken your top of for the lads, but your trousers, too?

Now, here’s the killer: “Ladies’ may wear brimmed hats coordinating with their outfits . . .” Well, for starters, I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that doesn’t know where to place its apostrophes; and two, where the hell are you going to find a hat to go with the kind of outfit that takes ankle distance into account?

As a general rule, slogans or printed materials not related to the manufacturer are not permitted. That’s another killer for me, as it instantly rules out the “Jaci’s Box” T-shirts I had made when I purchased my hospitality box at Cardiff Blues Rugby Club, complete with slogan “I’ve been in Jaci’s Box” emblazoned across the front.

I’ve now turned my attentions to the Beverly Hills Country Club instead. They have invited me for lunch to take a look around, and I also see from their website that they hold Singles evenings. I am shortening my hemlines even as I write.

To read Jaci Stephen’s blog, go to lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com