If you attended Hogwarts, there were all manner of extra-curricular activities available to you to distract from the fact that your potions wouldn’t thicken, or that you kept falling off your broom. Whether you were academically-minded, sporting-inclined or just really bothered by the subordination of house-elves, there was a club with your name on it. But which was the best one to belong to? We weigh the odds.
This was the club to go to if you really liked watching – and potentially causing – physical harm, but didn’t really want to commit to it as a regular Monday afternoon activity. It might have been a one-off, but it was a memorable one-off, what with the teacher-to-teacher combat, the grudge match between the Chosen One and the One Who Got Chosen Later But Really Would Rather Not Have Been, or the snakes being conjured from thin air.
Despite the brevity, there were plenty of learnings to be taken from this club: don’t annoy Snape, avoid engaging in a duel if you’ve recently broken your wand in half, and don’t provoke Potter if you’re scared of limbless reptiles.
‘They’re starting a Duelling Club!’ said Seamus. ‘First meeting tonight! I wouldn’t mind duelling lessons, they might come in handy one of these days ...’ ‘What, you reckon Slytherin’s monster can duel?’ said Ron, but he too read the sign with interest.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This was the big one. This was the one that came with real prestige. This was the one that allowed you to swan around the corridors with your posse of seven, broomsticks cocked jauntily over one shoulder, while fellow students swooned. Muggle or magical, the athletes of the school always hold a special power – so if you had the flight skills to pass the try-outs, this club should have been top pick. Of course, there were some severe cons to weigh against the pro of popularity: the likelihood of broken limbs, the knowledge that there were balls bent on battering you out of the sky, the fact of the ground being a really long way down. Small price to pay, though, once you felt the wind in your hair and heard the crowd chanting your name.
We don’t know much about Charms Club, really. But if it was led by Professor Flitwick, it was bound to be jolly good fun. Though it did feel a bit like an extension of a lesson you already have to take, which was possibly something only Hermione would enjoy.
This was the club you joined if your parents were concerned that you weren’t socialising enough, but you were really unwilling to join in with anything that might risk furthering you academically or physically.
Ah, the haunt of the politicians of the future. Though the name might imply the presence of Fred and George proffering their Puking Pastilles, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare was really all about equality in wizarding society, and furthering the interests of those less fortunate. This probably wasn’t the ideal club to join if you wanted to get a bit of socialising in, since there was really only one club member.
‘“Spew”?’ said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. ‘What’s this about?’ ‘Not spew,’ said Hermione impatiently. ‘It’s S – P – E – W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.’ ‘Never heard of it,’ said Ron. ‘Well, of course you haven’t,’ said Hermione briskly, ‘I’ve only just started it.’ ‘Yeah?’ said Ron in mild surprise. ‘How many members have you got?’ ‘Well – if you two join – three,’ said Hermione.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
If you’re Gryffindor-hearted, then you might immediately have shrunk from belonging to this club. The opulence, the hierarchy, the very real way that the leader would have left you out in the cold if you displayed even the slightest hint of ordinariness were all very Slytherin. But look again, chum. Because if you were ‘collected’ by Professor Slughorn, this was the place to be! Comfortable chairs, tales of celebrities, well connected Hogwarts alumni, and all the crystallised pineapple you could eat!
And even if you were engaging with everything that’s wrong with wizarding society, even if you had to watch Slughorn feast on pheasant, even if you had to listen to Blaise Zabini wax lyrical about the dating exploits of his beautiful mother, even if there was the possibility of accidentally consuming poison, still! You knew you were in the company of the elite, and that was worth the risk of all the above.
It’s probably the coolest club of the lot, but also the most dangerous, so swings and roundabouts.
Pros of the club involved close association with Dumbledore, getting the smartest witch in the school to help you learn complicated spells, and regularly hanging out in the coolest room in Hogwarts. Cons (and there are some weighty ones here) were having to watch Cho and Harry make love-heart eyes at each other, having to do loads of extra homework when you could be playing Gobstones, and the distinct statistical possibility that your membership would end with you being gnawed on by a werewolf.
‘The Defence Association?’ said Cho. ‘The DA for short, so nobody knows what we’re talking about?’ ‘Yeah, the DA’s good,’ said Ginny. ‘Only let’s make it stand for Dumbledore’s Army, because that’s the Ministry’s worst fear, isn’t it?’ There was a good deal of appreciative murmuring and laughter at this. ‘All in favour of the DA?’ said Hermione bossily, kneeling up on her cushion to count. ‘That’s a majority – motion passed!’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This was a late but strong entry for the best club at Hogwarts. On the face of it, it might look like conscription to this club involved doing the work that teachers ought to have been doing, putting oneself in harm’s way, and having to hang out with some of the most loathsome individuals at Hogwarts.
But in actual fact, getting earmarked for the Squad came with the ultimate cachet of cool! First of all, you couldn’t elect to join, you had to be invited (ELITE!). Secondly, you got to inflict punishment on fellow classmates (POWER!). And thirdly, you got to wear a shiny little badge. Top that. Just try. We’ll wait.
Just forget it was headed by Professor Umbridge and it all seems pretty great!