The Tattler

The Tattler

Chevy Chase Club: Exclusive to a Fault

Anybody can join the Chevy Chase Club through a fairly simple application process. All you have to do is garner 25 letters of recommendation and pony up roughly $60,000.

Emily Atrokhov

The man next to me at the Chevy Chase Country Club kept repeating the same name: Amber. Soon enough, the name Johnny came up. I connected the dots; it was Amber Heard they were talking about. I was sitting next to a close associate of Johnny Depp’s lawyer.

Referring to celebrities on a first-name basis is not unusual at the Chevy Chase Club, as its members include various politicians, celebrities, and foreign dignitaries. Anyone can join the Chevy Chase Club through a fairly simple application process. All you have to do is garner 25 letters of recommendation and pony up roughly $60,000.

Long gone are the days of bringing a plate of brownies to rub shoulders with your new neighbors and community members. When Sadie Virbickas moved into the neighborhood, she quickly realized the power of the Chevy Chase Club.

“A neighbor offered my parents to write a recommendation letter. We were confused and asked, ‘What?'” Virbickas detailed. “He explained to us that it was for the club, and the usual way to get your letters of recommendation was by hosting a gathering at our house. He told us that ‘we should have known this since we moved in.'”

“A neighbor offered my parents to write a recommendation letter. We were confused…He explained to us that it was for the club, and the usual way to get your letters of recommendation was by hosting a gathering at our house. He told us that ‘we should have known this since we moved in.’”

— Sadie Virbickas

Yet, if you do not feel like paying, you could always sneak in! Not recommended, but a B-CC student* snuck in nearly every day this past summer and was never caught! They shared: “It was easy; it was all about confidence. I would go through a gate on the side that was wide open, walk in, and go to the pool. No one was that suspicious.” However, their demographics could have contributed to this anomaly.

According to a Chevy Chase Club member*, “The people who belong to it are mostly white, and I’d say it’s a mix of conservative and liberal people. Most other young people go to private schools. There’s also a large pattern of families who’ve belonged to the club for a while because it has become a family tradition.”

Thus, the main way to get into the club is generational, which is only achievable for certain groups. If we dive into the history of the club’s founder, Senator Newlands, we find that his partner companies, such as Chevy Chase’s amusement parks, did not explicitly forbid racial or ethnic minorities from purchasing properties. Instead, they created financial hurdles impossible to clear if you were not White and/or extraordinarily wealthy, including redlining, separate-but-equal initiatives, and exclusion from social services.

While there is nothing in writing barring minorities from the Chevy Chase Club today, the unwelcoming environment, similar to the one prevalent a century ago, silently prevails.

The Chevy Chase Club remains a great place to relax and meet people—that is, rich White people.

 

*At the request of the interviewees, all names have been redacted.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Emily Atrokhov
Emily Atrokhov, Staff Reporter

Emily Atrokhov, a B-CC junior, serves as a Tattler writer and specializes in Features. She has taken journalism courses at B-CC and the University of Maryland.

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  • M

    matt carrJan 20, 2023 at 9:52 am

    this article is rlly interesting and i think that it sheds light on the divide between bcc ppl whose families are rich and influential and people whose aren’t

    Reply
  • S

    Sam MoffittJan 20, 2023 at 9:46 am

    Super Insightful, I worked at the club and can confirm I’ve heard similar things!

    Reply