Clare Cellars

JAKE ALDON-FALCONER reviews the first Clare Cellars of the term, and the special sense of sacrilege that comes from dancing in a crypt.

Clare Cellars, Friday January 21st Entry: £4 before 11; £5 after, Pint: £2.10


The unholy trinity of Cambridge nightlife is a slow-burning frustration. Fast forward half a term and listening to the same people moaning about the same clubs begins to piss me off. With this in mind, armed with a sense of optimism, I headed down to Clare Cellars last Friday.

Clare JCR is quite literally a cellar split into a bar and dance area. It’s very plush with leather sofas and smart lighting, but the comfort doesn’t eliminate that strange sense of sacrilege  you can only get from dancing in a crypt. Especially when the crypt is dark and empty, save for one solitary support DJ at the back.

This was the scene when I descended the stairs at 22:30. It remained like this until midnight and when student George Duckworth handed over his (rather unappreciated) set there can only have been two other people in the room. The DJ for the night was Fat Poppadaddys, (also known as Fat Popps; Fat daddy; or his real name, Pete), a resident at Fez who describes himself as ‘an eclectic mix’ of Indie, Reggae, Funk and any other genre you can think of.

In the bar, things were (very slowly) beginning to warm up, and a few of the angular haircuts and denim shirts you might expect at Kambar were beginning to mingle. They hit the dance floor (seeking safety in numbers) and the DJ started promisingly with James Blake’s melodic cmyk and a Jamie XX remix of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. As the night went on, a selection of Indie and Hip Hop classics edged perilously close to cheese with Rihanna and a well-received Teenage Dirtbag.

Eventually, numbers did grow, and by closing time Fat Popps seemed comfortable enough to release some dubstep and jungle into the increasingly energetic crowd. Unfortunately, however, the atmosphere in the cellars never quite gathered the same humid intensity of its Amazonian counterpart, and the energy level remained relatively low.

Ultimately though, I had come wanting to have a good time, and I got one. It required a little positive thinking – the music wasn’t exceptional by any means although you didn’t have to be absolutely hammered to enjoy yourself. I felt alone in wanting to appreciate the music, and in fairness perhaps I was wrong to want to: after all it was a sociable and enjoyable evening regardless.  But, it didn’t compare with the live artists of previous ents (such as Last Japan, or Spectrasoul at Emma Ents) in terms of musical appreciation.

It goes to show that college ents are often simply better than the standard clubs, and cost no more. They may be alternative, but they’re definitely not as exclusive as you might think.

  • mdmazing

    You can't compare this with cellars plus a decent headliner. It's always going to be empty early on (at least on the dancefloor), but given some notoriety, people will be there earlier, and the floor will fill earlier. At its peak, even the support DJs get a decent reception.

    We've all been to FP at Fez on a Monday (a point though, FP nights happen all over, it's not exactly a Cambridge exclusive) and probably knew what to expect – this would account for lower numbers too. Emma Ents definitely took it last year and last term, but I wouldn't write Clare off yet.

    • Anon

      A fair article on the whole. It wasn't the most musically diverse or original act to choose, but this article doesn't seem to acknowledge the balance has to be struck between acts that please those people who are into their music, and getting those that aren't so interested through the doors. Fat Popps is an option that is alternative-ish, but at the same time recognisable enough to get people into the Cellars. Emma Ents had some good acts last term, but the reason they can only afford to run 2 or 3 a term is because the numbers aren't there.

  • Merlin

    Emma Ents is so much better. I went to Clare the other day and was upset because there were so few people with something retro on their necklace.

  • 90s night?

    I would love to know when this stock photo was actually taken. My guess is definitely pre-21st century.

  • Shenyue D

    Is this a hipster which I see before me? Jake "Alternative"-Falconer knows nothing about the Cam Scene. What a massive novice.

  • Shenyue D

    Furthermore, any college event is simply the pinnacle of conformism. Non cogito ergo hipsta sum. That's Greek for Clare Ents. I'm a real Hipster.
    I prefer the smoother, blended, chunes of Ballare.

  • Isaac Henrion

    I totally disagree Shenyue, I feel that the only way to truly enjoy an evening is either to cut my finger open by accident on a bread knife, or to pretend to be climbing a tree whilst I pose for Varsity. Check out my angular haircut here, (I'm the one with my leg up and pouting with the smeyes) However, I would much prefer to be featured in Fit College in the Tab or be an admin in Indie Soc because I feel that is more alternative.

    • Henrion fan

      You really know your stuff Isaac, have you been reading Americas Next Top Model Manual?

  • crsid

    hardy har har har heart

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