The first time I heard of Clubhouse it was by word of mouth. One Friday in December, I had reached Zoom’s limit of endurance and, wanting to spend a weekend that included something other than routine shopping and the hours spent watching Euphoria, a friend wrote to me on WhatsApp to ask me if I had an invitation for a certain audio app, which on the website was described as “a new kind of voice-based social network”.
I did not have it and, fearing that I was already late, I started – acting as a hound, impatient and guided by my proverbial FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – to download the tech trend of the moment. It would quell my boredom and quench my thirst for some form of normality (which I realize is a laughable concept these days). So you can imagine my disappointment when I received a message informing me that I was in waitlist virtual. In fact – and it’s terribly frustrating – you can’t see anything in the app unless you’ve received that elusive invitation. Or be a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, Virgil Abloh. Or like Elon Musk who in the weekend at the end of January blew up the social network talking to 5 thousand people connected at the same time about the possibility of living on Mars, bitcoin and even UFOs.
© John Parra / Getty Images for Haute Living
But how is the Clubhouse (once you enter)?
After finally getting an invitation through a friend, the first thing I did was explore the various’room‘ (the rooms). On the phone screen, the app looks like all the others, and once inside, Clubhouse is chaotic and thrilling at the same time. There home page welcome is rather ordinary and lists the various discussions in progress at that time, as well as the lineup of subsequent chats.
Your algorithm matches both your address book and the people you decide to follow; so depending on your profession / interests / friends, you will see chat room hosting discussions on music, cinema, culture, race and racism, technology and beauty. For me it was love at first sight: normally inaccessible celebs are now just a click away. Scheduled debates are shown at the end of the feed and the ‘rooms’ are moderated by virtually other members like you.
In the first chat room I entered a conversation about emerging American rapper Mulatto and his controversial stage name (historically a term with the connotation anti-Black used to describe people of mixed ethnicity). The debate took on heated tones and, after leaving without attracting too much attention, I started wandering from one cyber ‘room’ to another. Over the weekend, I passed by talk about women in music to the world of fans of Harry Potter and, after 48 hours, the addictive effect and attractiveness of Clubhouse were patently clear.
The conversations held in the room virtual of Kevin Hart, Drake and Tiffany Haddish are so successful that they systematically become trending topics on Twitter and also attract the attention of the people of Instagram. It is said that it will soon become accessible to the general public (on the Clubhouse website we read “we are still in private beta mode but we are working to open it to everyone soon) but, in the meantime, here is everything you need to know about the app.
Jared Leto and Jodie Turner Smith at the Gucci fashion show, Milan Fashion Week Spring Summer 2020
© Victor Boyko / Getty Images for Gucci
What kind of conversations are held on Clubhouse?
A dizzying schedule made up of podcast-style live conversations, round tables, networking opportunities (those with long vision already hypothesize the transition from ‘influencer’ to ‘moderator’) and – advantageously – also the use of ‘room‘multiple (option exists’room‘private and closed to talk to your friends): the new app is designed to mimic real-life interactions.
Launched in April, Clubhouse continues its unstoppable advance around the world and in May 2020 it was estimated that its value was already equal to 100 million dollars. Recording chats is strictly forbidden, which means that meetings with VIP members and conversations of all kinds are protected.
Who created the Clubhouse app?
Developed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and former Google employee Rohan Seth, the app received approximately $ 12 million in funding from the company in May. venture capital Andreessen Horowitz and continued his rise. Although it is currently only available on iPhone, its expansion is imminent (as of May 2020 it had 3500 users – and as you can imagine now they have definitely increased). A new update allows you to leave the app open and listen to conversations while preparing dinner or ordering a takeaway on Deliveroo).
The app is gaining in popularity
Since its launch and during various lockdowns around the world, its popularity has grown tenfold. But, as with any new app, this too is not without flaws, as Eki Igbinoba, 24, English, who works as a PR in the beauty sector tells us. He’s been a member for a month and, according to his experience, “it’s great for networking and informal conversations about the creative sector but there is a danger of ideas being stolen from lesser-known moderators,” he told Vogue.
Virgil Abloh, Paris Fashion Week, Fall Winter 2020 2021
© Christian Vierig / Getty Images
IS almost like seeing your friends live
Moving from ‘room’ to ‘room’ and participating in conversations on the virtual stage, after being invited by the moderator (you apply by clicking on the emoji with your hand raised) is quite simple. Think of the Clubhouse as a kind of group. The themes vary from influencer culture through race, racism and feminism to chat room where myths and stereotypes of turning thirty are dispelled. Once your close-knit group has developed, you can create private ‘rooms’ where you can get together with friends to tell each other the latest news of the week or pretend to be at the bar for the typical Friday aperitif (pre-Covid of course).
Drake and Oprah Winfrey are members
Lots of celebrities have entered the club. The level of privacy it offers is a great attraction for VIP members who can speak freely without fear of what has been said ending up on gossip sites like TMZ. You can find us at Drake and Tiffany Haddish via Jared Leto, Ashton Kutcher and Chris Rock.
A recent controversy
Clubhouse has been criticized for being too permissive (reportedly) in interpreting what constitutes or not harassment and for not having moderated certain chat room appropriately. The writer of the New York Times, Taylor Lorenz, publicly denounced the voice app after discovering it had become the topic of conversation in one of the ‘rooms’.
On October 1, Clubhouse issued a statement condemning practices and behavior anti-Black, anti-Semites, hate speech and abuse, which he has followed a list of guidelines and rules that he intends to implement. These include the moderator’s power to block, report and mute any ‘rooms’ and immediately investigate any violations.
Clubhouse is semi-exclusive… for now
IPhone users can download the app from the Apple store and book one username. However, as it is still in beta testing, its exclusivity means that you will be added to one waiting list. Unless you get the invitation from a friend or colleague. Once accepted, each new member can invite a certain number of people. But, fear not. If I have piqued your curiosity, Clubhouse says it will soon open to the general public.