Social Media

Here's How Clubhouse Works

The internet is buzzing about the invite-only audio app.

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If you're pining for the Before Times when you could actually go out to a club with your friends, meet new people, and have wild discussions, you're not alone. That specific feel of shmoozing while having random conversations with new people is what you can get if (or when) you're invited to the current elite social craze that is Clubhouse. If your pal has sent you a key to entering this celeb-heavy social media world, you might pause to ask how the Clubhouse app works before diving in full force.

Founded last year, Clubhouse has grown from having 1,500 users in May 2020 to having over 600,000 in December. All the hubbub is about over an invite-only platform for live chat rooms — think podcasts, but you can participate. Clubhouse doesn't come without its risks — as with other social media apps, users report issues with content moderation and harassment, Vanity Fair reports — but you might still want to join to recreate real-time, IRL-ish conversations during COVID.

How To Use Clubhouse App

Once you've established that yes, you want in, download the free iOS app (Android users are outta luck for now). Reserve a Clubhouse username, get yourself on the waiting list, and subtly drop your plugged-in friends a hint that you want a Clubhouse invite. Each new user can invite one other person to join. After you get one, open the app and you'll get prompted to choose people or topics to follow. Based on what and who you choose, you can scroll through a list of currently ongoing and upcoming discussions. You'll be able to see that chat rooms hosted by all different users, from your colleagues (if, of course, they've also gotten an invite) to celebs like Drake. You can also enable notifications so you get alerts when discussions you might be interested in are happening.

Think of yourself as having an all-access pass to your favorite Comic Con panels — chat rooms will have titles, brief topic descriptions, and the names and profiles of moderators — except you don't have to wait hours in line to get in the room. And if you get overwhelmed by a discussion, or see another that catches your eye, you can just leave and flit to the next conversation. Just like you might do at a party IRL.

How Many Clubhouse Invites Do You Get?

At this point in the app's life, you must be invited by a current user in order to gain access. In addition, Clubhouse is still only available for iPhone users with a release date for Androids still unknown. As of now, newcomers are limited to only one or two invites to send friends. That's only one more than the original solo invite from when Clubhouse first launched in April 2020.

If you still haven't gotten your faithful invite, don't worry. Clubhouse is still in beta, so you can expect the app to gradually unveil more surprises.

How To Follow People On Clubhouse

The Clubhouse algorithm can hook up your phone's address book and combine that with whoever you choose to follow, Vogue reports. You'll find celebs like Ava DuVernay and Kevin Hart participating in and hosting discussion rooms, and you'll be able to pop in and out of those talks as you please, following whomever you like along the way. Based on your preferences and what you've clicked so far, the app will also suggest people to you — perhaps folks who have moderated a discussion on anti-racist organizing or people who share the same nerdy passion for networking as you. Keep up with folks by clicking the "follow" button next to their profile photos and brief description, not unlike what you're used to on Twitter.

How To Follow Topics On Clubhouse

You can get pretty specific (or stay fairly broad) in the topics you choose to follow on Clubhouse. Underneath the recommended people for you to follow, you'll see a selection of topics labeled "Find Conversations About..." Tap Wellness, for example, and you can select further subtopics like Mindfulness, Fitness, or Psychedelics. If World Affairs is more your thing, you'll get to choose from topics like Geopolitics, Climate, and U.S. Politics. Topics ranging from Sports and Life to Faith and Arts are yours to click through and explore, much like sifting through recommended hashtags.

How To Start A Room On Clubhouse

You can start a room of one's own on Clubhouse, and you've largely got control over what kind of socializing ensues. When you opt to Add A Topic, you'll be prompted to choose between making the room Open, Social, and Closed. An open room will be what it sounds like — open to whomsoever is browsing the app. A social room will only be available to folks you're directly connected to on the app (e.g., people you follow), and a closed room is a private room for only you and the users you've deemed worthy. You can ping individual people to join you in the room, so no one misses any of the fun.

How To Join Rooms On Clubhouse

Super shy? Hate the sound of your voice? Not sure what to say? You'll be muted when you "step" into Clubhouse rooms (which you can do simply by clicking "Join Room"), and you never have to unmute if you don't want to. Once you're inside, you can click "raise hand," "request speaking," or just go right ahead and unmute yourself (yes, even if Oprah's in the room). You can also simply "leave quietly" when it's time to head out — a win-win whether you're heading into another Clubhouse room or slipping back into discussions around you IRL.

Additional reporting by Lauren Grant.

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