Social club phenomenon French Tuesdays will launch here next month. An exclusive on what to expect and how to become a member.
Gilles Amsallem is a man who knows what he doesn’t want. And what he doesn’t want is “Page 3” and other celeb types littering his social club phenomenon called French Tuesdays. In town to launch the Mumbai chapter, the 46-year-old Frenchman had been through a whirlwind of meetings when we meet up at Le Pain Quotidien in Colaba. “I want people with BMWs and Mini Coopers, not Ferraris,” he says. “I want someone who is international, locals who are Francophiles, who have an appreciation for French things…it’s about luxury, yes, but affordable luxury.” The distinction is of utmost important to Amsallem, who as one of the co-founders of French Tuesdays has built his empire on letting in the right kind of people.
Amsallem, who has flown down from Los Angeles, where he works both in fashion and event planning, is in Mumbai for a few weeks until the launch sometime in mid-April. He’s been meeting four to five people a day, assessing and sizing up potential members as well as guaging whether the city is truly ready for FT. “I was a little worried after talking to people,” he says. “Everyone told me I would have to get Page 3 and celebrities, but it is only now that I think, ‘Gilles, I need to really stick to my concept’.” That concept was born in New York City in 2003, as a way to counter anti-French sentiment. That year, as a retaliation of the French government’s decision to oppose the war in Iraq, Americans went on a nation-wide rampage to ban every kind of French product; at its all time low, French Fries were even temporarily re-branded as Freedom Fries. “I remember I was at the post office, collecting a package, and I needed to show my French passport to get it,” Amsallem recalls. “The guy refused to give me my package because of my passport.” Together with friend Pierre Battu, the duo decided to launch an informal gathering of about 40, a convivial mix of American and French people at a bar. It was a Tuesday, the only day they were able to get the space. “We had music, I invited a few people, Pierre invited a few people, it was fun.” A month later, they decided to hold another gathering, this time with 80 people. Today, French Tuesdays, which is part social club, part business network and part matchmaker is a global phenomenon with 30,000 members in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Tokyo, Martinique Island, Sao Paulo, Miami, Paris and soon, Mumbai.
The concept everywhere is exactly the same. One event a month, always on a Tuesday, usually at bars or clubs or restaurants. To be a member, you have to either be personally interviewed and vetted by Amsallem and Battu or “sponsored” by existing members of other FTs around the world. You submit an application, and once approved, you’re in. As a member, you have the right to sponsor up to six members a year, and also invite a limited number of guests to events. Luxury brands like Moët & Chandon, Laurent-Perrier, Air France, and others have all rushed to be sponsors, because as Amsallem puts it “we are known for having the best people in the world” (this is backed up by demographic figures of members, whose incomes average around $100,000 plus). The whole thing, Amsallem says, is like being part of a family, where the members are treated liked kings and the buzz is generated entirely through word of mouth. “It’s a gathering of like-minded individuals, we have men, women, people who come to find boyfriends, girlfriends, network, people who bring clients, people who come for potential business opportunities,” he says. “It has a good, friendly vibe, where people feel safe.”
Of course, bring together young—the age group varies from 25 to 40—mostly single people in a room, and you have ripe conditions for creating a breeding ground of sorts. It’s no coincidence that most members tend to be unattached: in New York City for instance, 88 per cent of all members are single; in Miami it’s 72 per cent; and in San Francisco it’s 87 per cent. Amsallem says he’s been to dozens of weddings born out of FTs, an unintended but perhaps key component to the success of FT among both men and women.
Crucially, there are no membership fees (though you do have to pay for drinks and food at the event itself). For the Mumbai chapter, Amsallem says, 70 per cent of the members will be Indians, and 30 per cent will be of “international” origin, but not “expats who criticise the country”. For the first round of membership, Amsallem will only take about 200 to 300 people. After that he will rely on the founding members to slowly grow the club by sponsoring friends. Incidentally, there will be a dress code, one that Amsallem will enforce with doormen. No sneakers, T-shirts and flip-flops for men, and no flip-flops for women. “I want elegance, but in a cool way,” he says.
So how do you become a member? Mumbai Boss readers, stay tuned. We’re going to give you an exclusive link to the membership form in a week or two. In the meantime, read more about it at Frenchtuesdays.com.Tags: French Tuesdays, Gilles Amsallem, Nightlife, Pierre Battu, Special Top Story