The Wing is coming to DC, and women in the city are wrestling with how to feel about it. Part slick coworking space, part exclusive social club, the women-only group has been a phenomenon in New York since it opened in October 2016, with a reported 8,000-person waiting list as of January. Its first location outside New York opens in Georgetown this spring, and hundreds of applicants have already been accepted. (The criteria are fuzzy, but the company says it’s looking for professional women with diverse backgrounds.)
For a $2,350 annual membership, Wingers who make the cut get access to a fancy coworking space, big-name guest speakers, and amenities such as free blowouts and Chanel beauty products, all with a heavy dose of sunny empowerment talk that’s either inspiring or grating, depending on your point of view.
It isn’t just the earnest message that has drawn skepticism among some locals. “I’m only 24, so for me that’s money for bills,” says production coordinator Amina Akhtar, one of several millennials who told us they were intrigued by the idea but put off by the expense and Metro-inaccessible location. Other potential members wonder if the Wing’s aura of exclusivity is more appealing—especially in status-obsessed Washington—than its amenities. “It’s like when people apply to Harvard just because they think, ‘What if I got in?’ ” says Austa Somvichian-Clausen, who ultimately decided not to join because of the fee.
One thing we haven’t heard many complaints about: the lack of dudes. Women seem eager for a workspace where they never have to fend off creepy guys asking for their number, and if any men don’t like it? Too bad, says cofounder Audrey Gelman: “We are a private membership club, and those are our policies for membership.”