Thursday’s New York Times features an article on Native Society, a collection of about 400 “preppy young men and women, mostly friends from the Upper East Side,” who started a secret club so they can dress up and look down on people. It’s like any social gathering in New York City, really, except they were dumb enough to give it a name. It’s for networking, the club’s founder Oliver Estreich says, but you can only get in if you’re invited — “You can’t apply” — and it’s relegated to New York natives, by which they mean the kids of 10021, “the ZIP code of upper Park and Fifth Avenues,” or at least you better have gone to a damn special prep school.
“It’s the second-degree-of-association,” Estreich explains. “If one of my administrators knows you, likes you, thinks you have the native sensibility, we’ll reach out.” (Do you think our old, fabulous friend Hadley Nagel has scored an invite yet?)
The part that makes them all sound most insufferable, though it’s a tough call, and yet encapsulates what this club is all about, is probably this:
Native sensibility. Native mind-set. Those terms were tossed around at the Plaza gathering. Like Zen monks marinating on the essence of nothingness, members tried to put their finger on that ineffable quality that makes them worthy of membership
To Anne de la Mothe Karoubi, 24, who went to the Marymount School, it’s an intellectual precociousness. “When you grow up in New York City, our minds develop faster,” she said. “You’re not from Wisconsin, you’re not from the middle of America. We’re international, we’re focused, we’re driven.”
And, then there’s the elephant in the exclusive room:
Observing the scene, one half-expected Whit Stillman, the director of the 1990 film “Metropolitan,” to storm into the room, yelling “Cut!”
“Metropolitan’ is a satire based on Upper East Side snobs who are stiff and don’t do anything with their time,” [the club’s founder] Mr. Estreich said. “The Native Society is exactly the opposite: people who happen to come from privilege and want to do things with their life.”
Besides the unavoidable film comparison, the important proper noun name-drops in the article include: Edith Wharton, Plaza Hotel, Burberry, Hermès, Rose Club, Gossip Girl, Classic Car Club, Princeton, Columbia, Bridgehampton, Trinity, Birch Wathen Lenox, Marymount, La Goulue and Côtes du Rhône.
And Jell-O is mentioned, but with contempt.