Yes, Dakka did start out as a club web site, it's gone through variouis stages of being hosted on a 'free' web page provided with your ISP, through hosted by our own servers.
Today, Dakka Dakka servers are housed in the same facilities used by Paypal and Ebay (yes, it's true).
For quite some time we used free BBS software such as ezBoard, and that worked for quite awhile. Hosting Discussion boards are tricky, due to the high volume, so I'd definitly recommend something like that.
Best of luck!!