Gentlemen of Ningbo rejoice, for the city now has a group for men. Formed by the husbands of the members of the Ningbo Foreign Ladies Group, the Ningbo Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club (NDGC) held its first official dinner at Florentina Italian Restaurant this past month, bringing in over 30 people to take part in a lavish set menu and fun.
To find out what the NDGC is and what they have in store for the foreign men of Ningbo, we met with founders Robert Casey, Pieter Mols and Tobias Geertsma outside of Florentina in the fading sunlight before the dinner took place. “We realized that ladies have it really good in Ningbo,” laughs Robert as he describes how the group came to be. The men and their wives lived together in the same compound near Laowaitan, and after a week during which the women had gone out nearly each day for ladies-only events, the guys were left wondering why there weren’t any groups or events that were more geared towards men.
So, when Tobias and Robert were together one day, they decided to start a de facto WeChat group for them and their guy friends in the city. The WeChat group quickly became an informal means for the men and their growing number of compatriots to meet up at a specified location for a few drinks, dinner, or both. “It was pretty staggered at first, usually someone saying‘hey I had a shit day at work, who wants to go grab a few beers?’”
“The most people we ever had at these meet ups were around 6-8 people,” Tobias piped in. “When we decided to make it more formal, we started adding more people to the group chat, maybe 8 new people this week.” The dinner that evening, which the ladies helped organize, was the group’s first official event, with more planned for the coming month and potentially the summer.
Having seen how involved the ladies were with the NFLG and “all the menus and the fun and the food,” they laugh, the group decided that they wanted to do something similar. The dinner at Florentina was that event, with another joint event – not only open to NFLG members but open to members of the Chinese community as well – taking place on the 26th of the month at Elephant Spanish Restaurant in Heyi Avenue and a following event at Slim’s at the beginning of June.
Even the origins of the name were steeped in humor. “For a time we couldn’t decide on a name,” explains Tobias, “it became another lost group chat but we eventually settled on NDGC.” The N stood for Ningbo, and GC “Gentlemen’s Club”, while the D “stands for ‘Distinguished,’ but the ladies changed it to read ‘Desperate’” Tobias laughs.
Shenanigans aside, the group has much planned for the year to come, including more dinners, restaurant and bar meet ups, and possibly even the Great Wall Marathon in Beijing. “For sure the more we can pull together, the better,” says Robert. “It’s quite casual, more flexible,” adds Tobias, “more spur of the moment” which will hopefully lead to more unique events in the months and years to come. We left the NDGC when new members began to arrive for dinner, gathered to take part in an evening of merriment and brotherhood. “Even though we’d meet randomly and it was all joking,” Tobias told us “I had guys come up to me and tell me ‘Tobias, thank you so much for this, I’ve been in Ningbo for 2 years and didn’t know anyone until this point.’” Groups like the NDGC are founded as a means to make new connections, and based on their story, drive and events like the dinner and those to come, they’ll be able to help forge connections for years to come.
为了了解NDGC 以及他们为在甬外籍男士准备了些什么，晚宴开始之前，我们在翡冷翠西餐厅外约见了创建者Robert Casey、Pieter Mols 和Tobias Geertsma 。“ 我们发现女士们在宁波过得有滋有味。”Robert笑着讲述起这个组织的由来。这几位男士和他们的妻子共同生活在老外滩附近同一个小区里，有一个星期，妻子们几乎每天都会出门参加女士活动，留下男人们郁闷地琢磨：怎么就没有任何一个团体或活动是专门面向男士的呢？
于是，有一天Tobias 和Robert 一碰头，决定为自己和城里的同性朋友们组建一个有实际意义的微信群组。很快，越来越多的外籍男士加入其中，并不时在群里发出非正式邀请，约大家一起到某处喝一杯或吃个晚餐。“开始这种聚会相当随意，起因经常只是有人在群里说‘嘿，我今天工作不顺心，有谁想一起喝几杯啤酒的吗？’”
“最多的时候，大约有6 到8 人参与聚会，”Tobias 插话道，“当我们决定要把它变得更正式，我们开始邀请更多人加入微信群组，这周大约多了8 个人。”当晚，由女士们协助组织的晚宴是他们的首场正式活动，他们还计划在下个月以及接下来的整个夏天举办更多活动。
看到女士们那么用心地对待宁波外籍女士群的活动，包括所有的菜单、娱乐节目和食物，男士们决定也要举办类似的活动。于是他们就在翡冷翠西餐厅举办了那场晚宴。接下来，5 月26 日，另一场联合活动将在和义大道的Elephant 西班牙餐厅举办，不仅对宁波外籍女士群的成员们开放，也对中国人开放；六月初，Slim’s 餐厅也会有一场活动。
说起这个组织的名字，它的由来也是充满了幽默感。“我们曾一度不知该取什么名，”Tobias 说道，“这个聊天群组也没什么人问津，但是我们最终选定了NDGC。”“字母N 是Ningbo（ 宁波） 的缩写，GC 是Gentlemen’s Club（绅士俱乐部）的缩写，D是Distinguished（尊贵）的缩写，但是女士们把它改成了Desperate（绝望）。”Tobias笑着说。
尽管带有些许恶作剧的意味，但是这个团体为接下来的这一年做了很多计划，包括举办更多的晚宴、餐厅和酒吧聚会甚至还可能一起参加北京的长城马拉松。“毫无疑问，我们越团结一致，这个组织就会变得越来越好，”Robert 说。“我们相当随性，也很灵活，”Tobias 补充道，“很多想法都是一时兴起。”但愿这能在今后的岁月里为他们带来更多独特的活动。
当新成员陆续到达，准备与他们共进晚餐并培养兄弟情谊之际，我们也准备告别了。“尽管我们的聚会较为随性、轻松，”Tobias 告诉我们，“但是也有人过来跟我说‘Tobias，非常感谢你们举办这些活动，我已经在宁波2 年了，但是在这之前都不认识什么人。’”像NDGC这样的团体的成立，旨在构建新的关系网络。通过他们的故事、努力和晚宴等各种活动，一定可以在未来几年里让人们之间的联系变得更加紧密。
How to Join:
If you are interested in joining the Ningbo Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, please contact Robert Casey or Tobias Geertsma on WeChat at trebor587 or tobiasinchina88, respectively.