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What is a Fan Club?

By Kate Monteith
Updated May 16, 2024
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A fan club is a group of people who share a common interest and form an organized club to network with other enthusiasts. Fan clubs can be for a noted celebrity, a pleasurable activity, a political idea, or almost anything at all. Admirers known as fans will join a club to learn more about the object(s) of their dedication. Sports fans, music fans, and hobbyists are some of the people who might join a fan club.

The origin of the term fan in reference to a dedicated zealot is unclear. The word may have emerged in the 1800s when boxing supporters were said to take a “fancy” to pugilistic sports. Amongst modern sports fans, however, the title is considered a shortened version of the word fanatic, as in “baseball fanatic,” an indication of the dedication of fan club members.

The Internet has expanded opportunities for fan clubs to flourish across the globe. A quick search brings up thousands of choices. There is an online fan club for every football team, rock group and major celebrity. Most fan club websites publish online newsletters called fanzines, and membership is usually open to anyone who shows interest.

Some of the best-known celebrity fan clubs today are for musicians or movie stars. There can be informal groups of followers, as well as official organizations that are personally endorsed by the celebrities themselves. Singer, Michael Jackson, has one of the largest official fan groups, with members in almost every country of the world. In India, dozens of Bollywood film stars are practically worshiped by fans, and the number of organized fan clubs in India is astronomical.

The Japanese also have a number of fan groups, and the members are sometimes called otaku. The term has a somewhat derogatory connotation in Japan, but is in popular use amongst English-speaking computer gamers and comic aficionados. Teens who are obsessed with anime comics and other popular culture are sometimes called fanboys or fangirls.

Not all fans are members of a fan club. Soccer devotees are some of the most dedicated and fanatic sports enthusiasts around, but not all are members of organized clubs. In the music world, there are obsessed fans who follow their favorite performer to every tour stop and attend every concert without fail. Some fanatical admirers can go too far by stalking a celebrity to the point of unease. However, most people are content to join a fan club simply for the joy of sharing a healthy obsession with like-minded people.

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Discussion Comments
By nony — On Feb 03, 2012

@Charred - That’s true; the whole Internet is at your disposal really, no matter what forum you choose to create your fan site. You’re not limited to traditional objects of interest like celebrities, either.

As the article points out, you can have dedicated sites to discuss political ideas. I know of two such sites on the Internet and they have grown in size to the point where politicians regularly check them out to see what’s discussed in the forums.

It gives them a preview of what the public is thinking, along different ideological divides.

By Charred — On Feb 02, 2012

Fan club sites are not limited to dedicated web sites from what I can tell. I think the whole social networking phenomenon has added a new dimension to fan clubs.

Instead of setting up your own site, you can create your own “page” in popular social networking applications, and others can visit your page and become members.

Social networking offers a unique twist in that sense, because these sites can grow exponentially, with friends of friends of friends having the potential to see your fan club. There really is no limit to the potential growth and that’s why marketers are tapping the social networking sites from what I can tell.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 02, 2012

I let my young daughter join a fan club of her favorite cartoon character. In her mind, this was just like a real person, so she got excited every time she heard from the fan club.

She even has an email address that the fan club can send things to, but I monitor it carefully. I don't let her give it out to anyone without my permission, because I know the danger of letting a child play online unsupervised.

I feel that she is safe with this fan club. It's all very G-rated, so I feel that she is safe when clicking on links that they send her. Still, I check every email that she receives and every link, as well.

By whiteplane — On Feb 01, 2012

I am a member of a Sugarland fan club that meets in person here in Houston. We meet about once a month at a bar and we have a special arrangement with the owner to only play sugarland songs for the 3 hours that we have booked.

All the members put in their requests so that everyone can hear their favorite songs. If someone has a rare song or a live version we throw that in too. Then we hang around and talk all things Sugarland. Some of our members are real fanatics and you would not believe how much they know about this band.

It's a lot of fun. We all have this one thing in common, we might as well share some of our enthusiasm with each other.

By truman12 — On Jan 31, 2012

Do they still have fan clubs for celebrities and popular singers? I can remember when I was a girl in the 60s they had one for just about anyone who got famous. You could send away for posters or buttons or letters that were supposedly hand written by your favorite celebrity.

I think that most of these were run by the studios and record labels and probably didn't have much to do with real fans. They were just a marketing gimmick. But they sure worked. I sent huge portions of my allowance money away to these things throughout my teenage years. Oh the folly of youth.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 31, 2012

I work in a college town, and I feel like every person I meet there is a member of the local sports team's fan club. I don't know that they actually are, but I can tell you that their fanaticism meets the requirements.

People in this town wear the team's merchandise, post their logo on their vehicles, and buy everything from coffee cups to lawn chairs with the team's logo on them. I'm sure that many of them are official fan club members. It seems that everywhere I go, whether to a restaurant or a shopping center, I hear people talking about the game.

It is so annoying to me, because I don't care a thing about football. It's like I'm living in the fan club zone, and I didn't even pay dues or ask to be there. I wish they would just reserve their fanaticism for meetings of the actual fan club.

By seag47 — On Jan 30, 2012

@Oceana – I was a member of a band's fan club through snail mail, but I joined right before they got a website and started promoting themselves mainly through it. I received a letter in the mail stating that everyone who bought their newest album would have the opportunity to join their online fan club for free.

I joined, because the online version sent out a lot more current information. I would get emails several times a month, whenever anything of note happened.

After my year of free membership was up, I would have had to pay to stay in the club any longer. The cost was $40 a year, and I just didn't feel like I could afford that at the time. Now, instead of relying on a fan club for my information, I just check their website now and then.

By Oceana — On Jan 30, 2012

As a teenager, I was a member of a couple of different fan clubs. Both were for rock bands, and I felt a need to stay informed of everything that they did.

At that age, I really needed someone to admire. Loving rock bands was easy, because they were too far away to disappoint me or crush my hopes. The monthly newsletters the fan club sent to its members never included any negative news, so all I got was the good stuff.

This was in the days before the internet became a major force, so the only way to stay up to date on your favorite band was to join a fan club. This club let me know about any upcoming magazine or television interviews with the band, tour dates, and new albums. I looked forward to receiving mail from them every month.

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