What is Social Muscle Club?

Social Muscle Club (SMC) is hard to describe. It’s an international performance art project that is all about giving and taking. SMC is not a barter shop, it is an exercise in using our share-muscle.

Social Muscle Club is the place where art and anti-art conspire while two simple questions are poised: What can you give? What do you want?

It really is a workout and it really is a group effort. SMC trains our interpersonal strength based on the fact that every human has an unspoken need and all of us have something to give. Regardless of the city in which a “Club” takes place, the facilitators stick to a basic structure involving site-specific performances and lots of improvisation. Each city pulls the programming from their local community of artists and citizens. Due to its easy-access networking potential, SMC subtly connects humans across racial, religious, wealth, gender and other common divides. The club taps into a kind of ancestral truth that speaks to our hearts and allows us to need community — to need other people. This is the stuff that makes up a city and this is the muscle that our busy modern lives often keep us from exercising. Through the club’s simple structure, the most unexpected encounters are possible. SMC always takes place in new spaces and reaches new audiences. Each club is a different program of entertainments and art. Each club offers food and drink, comfortable tables and chairs, and some form of stage area no matter how simple. In fitness centers, senior homes, luxury hotels, churches or refugee homes. SMC is not a party – as pictures might suggest. It is an intensive and sometimes strenuous artistic-social project with an elaborately designed framework.

Social Muscle Club grows through the live events, where afterwards usually by word of mouth and interest more clubs come after people having been inspired by the idea. By spreading the idea, the initiators strive to start an international conversation about giving and taking. With the protocols around offering, needing and taking framed as a performance event, SMC shows how art is entangled around our lives, and that our interactions can be creative, spontaneous and have lasting significance. As it is an ever-alive, ever-evolving organism, the art aesthetic and social and political topics coming to the forefront of SMC change with the times.

Since the format itself is an idea factory, through the wishes and needs of the participants, many seeds of projects and relationships begin in the club in order to create the future.

Social Muscle Club was invented and channelled as part of a healing process for its Berlin founders — Till Rothmund and Jill Emerson —  in 2012. It was inspired by a real club in Sheffield, England, featured in the documentary ‘Menschen in Scheffield’ by Peter Nestler (1965) about a worker’s club in Sheffield, England where the idea was ‘entertainment and mutual social support’.  People are continually joining our international network of clubs, and spreading the magic to communities everywhere.

If you want to set up a Social Muscle Club in your area, get in touch!