Club memberships, like the make of a person's car, are a mark of social distinction - especially in a city as status-conscious as Hong Kong. In the past, many of these prestigious clubs only opened their doors to expatriates. Even now, there are some which, as a legacy of times gone by, have maintained a predominantly western membership. Thankfully, that position is changing. As we report today, more clubs that were once bastions of wealthy and well-connected expatriates have turned their attention to attracting local members. Most of these clubs have experienced steep membership declines since the handover as a result of expatriate families leaving Hong Kong. Some clubs, like the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, have embraced the new reality and achieved parity between local and expatriate memberships. Others are slower to adapt, for a number of reasons. There will always be snobs, whether western or Chinese, who consider most people unworthy to join their clubs. There are, however, legitimate reasons for some clubs wanting to keep up their traditions. Expatriate clubs often serve as a welcome refuge for foreigners living in a Chinese city, however well they may integrate with local people. It is also not easy to change a club's membership composition without changing its identity. Social and recreational programmes may need to be changed and menus rewritten. Even kitchen equipment may need to be upgraded. In some cases, new decision-making board members are required. Many clubs, however, are making the much needed effort. They should be encouraged. There is some truth expressed in the old Groucho Marx joke about not wanting to join any club that would have him as a member. Some locals find clubs attractive precisely because they are exclusive. So opening up access to membership may lower a club's standing in their eyes. Nevertheless, the clubs' drive to attract locals is a natural and welcome move. As Hong Kong further develops as a modern cosmopolitan city, clubs should be open and accessible to members from all races and nationalities.