Try mystery experiences with L.A.’s Renaissance Club

When Luca Paoluzzi signed up for Renaissance Club last October, he had no idea what he was in for.

“I saw this ad, it was a video, and it was really intriguing,” Paoluzzi said, describing the clip on Facebook that cycled through scenes of aquariums, magic shows and other mysterious performances. “It looked like a secret society.”

Months later, Paoluzzi received an email with a photo of a wax-sealed envelope. Clicking on it took him to a portal where he was informed of his first activity: a live theater performance of “The Book of Mormon.”

The branding for Renaissance Club — no relation to Beyoncé’s Club Renaissance — is intentionally vague, to draw in “curious people who want to try everything.” The L.A. company, which sets Angelenos up with bimonthly or monthly activities, is a bit like ClassPass (which allows people to book fitness and wellness classes at different studios for one monthly fee) and the Nudge (which gives users things to do around their city). Members simply share the days and times they’re free, and the club sends them information on where to be, what to wear and what they’ll be doing — no other planning required.

Customers in a studio space, photographing the paint-covered studio wall.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

Renaissance Club offers two tiers of membership — $79 for one activity each month and $149 for two. Experiences include art classes, culinary workshops, live shows, sports and spiritual endeavors, though the specific events are constantly updated. There’s a “thrill seeker” add-on for those looking for more daring adventures like bungee jumping, and users are also able to opt into a “philanthropy” membership, which sets them up with two local community service opportunities each year.

Since Paoluzzi joined, he’s been to plays and comedy shows, gone whale watching and learned how to blacksmith, among other endeavors.

“I was going through a divorce, so I found myself alone without many friends,” Paoluzzi said. “I needed ways to force myself to go out and do things, otherwise I was going to stay home on the couch.”

Michael Jade, an L.A.-based musician who founded Renaissance Club in 2022, said he always felt there was “this friction between me and trying new things.” While the internet makes it easy for people to find local experiences, too often these ideas remain in the lost abyss of saved Instagram posts or random lists in one’s Notes app.

“You need to research things, register for a bunch of mailing lists, and then there’s the cost to everything,” he continued. “I just wanted something that brings back that playful curiosity we had as kids into modern adulting.”

A person wearing a yellow raincoat smiles on a tire swing.

Julia Carmel pushes Reanna Cruz on a tire swing while waiting for the paint, balloons and canvases to be set up.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

A drill covered in paint stands on the floor, next to an image of bottles of paint on white shelves.

A drill, used to screw canvases onto the spinner to keep them secure, left, and bottles of paint, ready to be used, right.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

As someone who’s constantly looking for new things to do around Los Angeles, I signed up for Renaissance Club in June. After making my account and selecting various restrictions — the portal allows for users to select weight limits, allergies, food and drink restrictions, fears and so on — I received my first activity within a day: a private archery lesson in Van Nuys.

There were detailed instructions on what to wear (no open-toed shoes) and how to get there. A contact number was also included, in case questions or issues came up.

After accidentally pulling into a few wrong driveways, I found my way to Andrew Robertson, one of the few people shooting at the archery range on a Monday afternoon.

He patiently talked me through all the safety precautions I needed to know and got us set up at a bale of hay. Though I wasn’t sure how much we’d accomplish in just an hour, my aim improved quickly and my arms started aching long before the lesson was over.

Robertson knew I was coming via Renaissance Club, but not every vendor is aware of what Renaissance Club does. Because the club books tickets at full price, it doesn’t need to have formal agreements with each vendor.

“We’re booking you for things sometimes that are $250, $300, and we’re not getting an 80% discount, we’re paying full price,” Jade said. “The way we are able to do that is some months, we’re booking you for something that’s $20 or $30. Over the course of six months or a year, the cost to us is a little bit less than the cost to you.”

My second activity was initially booked for an immersive virtual reality experience in Montebello, but after getting negative feedback from other users, Renaissance Club decided to stop offering that as an option. Though I was still welcome to use my ticket for that, Renaissance Club set me up with a new activity at Shot of Art, a downtown Los Angeles studio where people can shoot paint-filled balloons with airsoft guns to decorate spinning canvases.

A hand holds a gun covered in multicolor paint.

A member of the staff instructs painters on how to shoot the balloons with an airsoft gun.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

White walls are covered in splatters of multicolor paint.

Two studio spaces side by side at Shot of Art.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

Since the activity costs the same for one to three people, Renaissance Club gave me all three tickets, so I brought along my partner Reanna Cruz and our friend Yuri.

After putting on protective raincoats and booties, an enthusiastic teacher walked us through picking colors, filling up each paint balloon and safely shooting them. Old Rihanna songs blasted as we decorated our canvases, and the room was already covered in paint, so we didn’t have to worry about spilling or splattering on any surface.

Though Shot of Art is the kind of thing I never would’ve thought to sign up for, we all agreed that it made for quite a memorable night.

A person wearing a yellow raincoat smiles down at tubes of paint.

Julia Carmel pumps brightly-colored paint into a balloon.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

A person wearing a yellow raincoat watches someone hand balloons above a canvas.

Reanna watches as balloons are attached to chains above their empty canvas.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

OZ Ozmen and Kristen Moore signed up for a “duo” Renaissance Club membership last May, which allows couples and friends to schedule and do these activities together. Moore said that it’s become a huge part of how they enjoy free time.

“We don’t really have time to unwind, so sometimes when the weekend comes around, we haven’t planned [things to do],” Moore said. “Having that extra resource — to have someone to be able to do that for you — it helps.”

So far, the couple’s adventures have included going indoor skydiving, visiting an immersive installation called Flutter and making marble art.

“It’s a part of our dating life,” Ozmen said of Renaissance Club. “It keeps us going out, as well, and it pushes us to do something new that both of us would not even think of.”

Having eccentric activities scheduled for them also helped both of them expand their own limits. Though not every experience is perfect for each of them — Moore, for instance, didn’t want to go into the sensory deprivation pods Renaissance Club scheduled them for — they each appreciate having the opportunity to try something new. (For what it’s worth, there’s an option in the portal for users to indicate if an upcoming experience makes them uncomfortable.)

A pair of feet, standing atop a painted target on the floor.

Julia Carmel, protective plastic covering their checkered shoes, stands on the target location where painters stand to shoot their airsoft guns toward paint-filled balloons.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

Two people wearing yellow raincoats pose in front of a heart painted onto the multicolor wall.

Julia Carmel and Reanna stand in front of their mark on the wall: their names in a heart.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

“The word ‘adventure’ is generally associated with either [being] a child, or you are in your ‘Eat Pray Love’ stage, and you have the money to do that,” Ozmen said. “So this is the perfect combination for me.”

And for the small-but-growing group of Renaissance Club members, getting that next envelope has become something to look forward to.

“It’s like a Netflix subscription,” Ozmen said. “It’s my lifestyle now. There’s no way I’m dropping this.”

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.

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