Today the Sun is in a relatively uncrowded place. The distance between it and the nearest other star is relatively large (about 200 000 times the Earth–Sun distance!). This is beneficial to life on Earth; a close encounter with another star is extremely unlikely. Such encounters would either remove the Earth from its orbit around the Sun or leave it on an eccentric orbit similar to a comet's. But the Sun was not formed in isolation. It was born within a more–crowded cluster of perhaps a few hundred stars. As the surrounding gas evaporated away, the cluster itself evaporated too, dispersing its stars into the Galaxy. Virtually all stars in the Galaxy share this history, and here I will describe the role of ‘clusterness’ in a star's life. Stars are often formed in larger stellar clusters (known as open and globular clusters), some of which are still around today. I will focus on stars in globular clusters and describe how the interactions between stars in these clusters may explain the zoo of stellar exotica which have recently been observed with instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the X–ray telescopes XMM–Newton and Chandra. In recent years, myriad planets orbiting stars other than the Sun — the so–called ‘extrasolar’ planets — have been discovered. I will describe how a crowded environment will affect such planetary systems and may in fact explain some of their mysterious properties.