Major cities like Los Angeles are often a large collection of small, tight-knit communities. So how do you make new friends in a world becoming more isolated every day?
People are less connected than ever, and the COVID pandemic seems to have accelerated that trend. Self-employment, remote work, geography - many factors can leave someone feeling alone.
The Ground Floor Club wants to be the solution for social isolation.
"People nowadays are looking for a sense of belonging, which goes a bit deeper than just asking simple questions like 'what do you do for work?' People want to sort of be able to depend on their community," explained Jermaine R. Ijieh, co-founder of the Groundfloor Club.
The Ground Floor Club has three locations in the Bay Area, all with waitlists for membership. Members are intentional about making friends through events like wine tastings, a night of board games or music. In just one month, 150 events were held at one Bay Area location. These events are created by members, and the ideas were made possible through the Ground Floor programming team.
"We're just kind of bringing different communities together, trying to make circles bigger and make it easier for people to access those communities and also events that make them happy, kind of just tap into the inner child a little bit more," explained Jalyen DeBarge, the lead community manager at the Groundfloor Club in Oakland.
"What I really wanted was a third place to go to," explained Farbod Moridani, a member at the Groundfloor Club Oakland. "I had my home, I had my work, and I wanted a third place where there's community and social aspects and joy and fun and play."
Rebecca Hope is also a member at the Oakland club and adds: "I've definitely been able to connect with new people and enjoy new interests, discover new things and feel kind of more grounded in where I live and where I've kind of made my home."
A new location in Echo Park is now under construction and should open early in 2024. It's one of eight new clubs expected to open over a year and a half, hoping to create a space where it's easier for adults to make new friends.
Ijieh explained why Echo Park was an attractive location: "It felt like home. It's really a type of place where you can tell people are seeking out something more than just being on their own and doing their own thing in this type of neighborhood going to coffee shops. There was just a great buzz."
Membership is $200 a month, and club members are required to attend at least two events a month, many of which are planned collaboratively with other members. It's another chance to make connections in a disconnected age.
"My only advice to people joining our L.A. community is, step out of your shell, don't be afraid to connect. It only brings amazing things and I'm witness to it," explained DeBarge.
"The whole premise is - you're in an environment where you're not being judged, and we're really trying to promote that. When you can create that type of atmosphere is really when you see people start to really let loose and get to know one another."Ijieh said.