Stopping short of a complete generalization I want to be clear that there are clubs for everyone, but they are definitely stratified by class. But alas, so much is so in Brazilian society. What’s the big deal? If class stratification were restricted to social clubs, then not much. But I fear the clubs are more an outgrowth of the gaping separation of the haves and have-nots in Brazil and that they reinforce and normalize this gap.
Sports and social clubs definitely have their perks and advantages and many, many are not only for the rich. They may bring swimming options to those living far from the beach. The grounds are safe for kids to wander and play on their own. Food and drink can be cheaper than on the street (since your monthly dues subsidize the environment). They are certainly a place to find tennis partners or to socialize with people self-selected as like you. They can be a quiet respite from the cacophony of the surrounding neighborhood.
That is all very reasonable. But at the end of the day, some of these places do not pass the smell test when it comes to self-selected class stratification – for whatever the reason. To suggest otherwise is to ignore reality.
Like I said, the hair goes up on the back of my neck. I flash on a memory of being the guest of a friend of mine in San Francisco for the annual LGBT physicians’ association dinner. We wandered the room meeting and greeting new colleagues and old. EVERYONE extended their hand to me first and introduced themselves. In turn I would introduce them to my host who had a PhD in psychiatry from Harvard, an African American man. We left early. Harold was worried that when it came time for people to leave they would be giving him their car keys and asking him to go fetch their BMWs.
On the other hand, I do enjoy going to some private clubs and having my class stereotypes contradicted by the openness and inclusivity shown by their members. And I have been to many clubs for us working class folk and they can put on one hell of a party.