An Inside Look At The Exclusive Players Club

In the basement bar of a nearly 200-year-old brownstone on the edge of Gramercy Park, a suave older gentleman saunters towards a glowing green pool table, removing a case he’s carrying on his back and setting it down.

He flashes a white smile at my friend and I before asking, “You ladies play pool?”

No, we say, but my friend asks what he’s brought with him.

“It’s a pool cue,” he says, smiling again.  “I come by here all the time.”

It’s Friday night and my plus one and I have lingered after our guided tour of one of New York’s oldest private society clubs, the Players, opened by Edwin Booth in 1888 as  a social club for actors and patrons of the arts. Long-time member and our docent for the evening, Giack Selloni, has offered to show us the bar downstairs, and we take him up on it.

We had been admiring Mark Twain’s modestly displayed pool cue, resting above a marble mantle of one of the building’s many fireplaces, and watching important-looking women in hats chat at a nearby table, when this club regular walked down the stairs with a startling sense of ease in his surroundings.

We turn our attention back to Selloni, who explains that the women at the table have enjoyed long and successful careers in fashion and media.

“I hope you two will stay for the jazz concert tonight,” says Selloni as we observe the goings on, and my friend and I look to my friend to see if we’re on the same page.

“Sure,” I say.  It’s a rare offer, and it may be the only time I set foot inside the club.

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