An exclusive venue, in the true meaning of the word “exclusive” (as in exclude!), Almack’s required membership fees (called subscriptions) and had a powerful doorkeeper.
A committee of high-born ladies, known as patronesses, further added to the exclusivity factor. They controlled access to tickets and, therefore, who could enter the prized environs.
Though it cost money to get in, money alone didn’t guarantee entry, nor did birth status. Other factors considered were: wit, beauty, careful dressing, being a good dancer, or simply having good taste might tip the scales in your favor.
The despotic patronesses held weekly meetings to select attendees. Once “in”, there were still strict rules which had to be followed, or you risked being turned away. You must arrive on time, properly dressed.
Six or seven patronesses ran Almack’s. Lady Jersey, daughter and wife of earls, was a chatterbox heiress, strictly maintained the cachet of the club. Lady Sefton, married to an earl, considered more amiable, was a renowned society hostess in her own right. Lady Cowper, know for her with, tact and affability, was known to smooth over quarrels. Formidable Lady Castlereagh, Icy Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, ruthless Countess Lieven, and spiteful Princess Esterhazy round out the committee.
It almost makes one not want to even try to gain entrance. Do you think you’d have made the cut? (fantasy here!)