"Poo Tang Club" (1904-1912)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Aug 15 00:15:25 UTC 2005

At N'archive there can be found about a dozen mentions of the Poo Tang Club
(also spelled Pou Tang, and variously hyphenated and spaced), dating from
1904 to 1912 (additional instances from ca. 1960 are retrospective).

This was apparently a men's social club of Frederick MD, which held dinners
and picnics and did some fishing, etc.

What is the origin of the name?

Apparently this club was respectable enough; it was reported to be
headquartered in a named business place (tailor shop). I doubt the name was
openly "Putain Club" or "Poontang Club".

Possibilities which come to my mind:

(1) Some geographical name, perhaps a corruption of a Chinese place-name. I
can't find a good candidate, but there are some remote possibilities.

(2) Incomprehensible nonsense, maybe related to a forgotten in-joke.

(3) Something brought home from the Philippine War (roughly 1898-1903):
likely Tagalog "puta" in its suffixed form "putang": maybe not recognized
as equivalent to "putain" but rather remembered from an expletive such as
"putang ina mo".

(4) Humorous mispronunciation of something or other, or imitation of some
dialect or speech impediment, or a mispronunciation of some catchy phrase
in French or whatever. I don't see anything obvious.

(5) A reduced form of "pudding tang"/"pudding tame" meaning "nameless" or
so. Many clubs apparently have names along this line, either in order to
imitate secret societies or because nobody could think of a good name.
Quick N'archive browse shows for example "Nameless Club", "Anonymous Club",
"No-Name Club", "Sans-Nom Club", "Sine Nombre Club" ... also "Cryptic
Club", "Mysterious Club", "Unknown Club", "Nobody Club", "Oscuro Club",
"L'Inconnu Club", etc.

Do any of the scholars have other (hopefully better) ideas?

-- Doug Wilson

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