Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle: The battle of the edgiest unis

The big four go to war

bristol Drugs edgy garms house ket ketamine Leeds manchester music newcastle nightlife uni wavey

In a world where there’s a new rankings table every week, four universities are fighting a much more important battle.

If Oxbridge is Zeus, then these institutions are fighting to the death to become Poseidon – and reign supreme over all things wavey.

For Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, and Newcastle, there’s only one thing that matters: the charity shop crown of total edginess, a title disputed since before the first Air Max had even been worn.

But there can only be one – so in the interest of democracy, we’ll let you decide. But before you make your judgement, here’s the case for each…


The mighty Leeds: where freshers arrive in Hollister and leave in vintage Adidas. A place of giddy hedonism and an abundance of Ketty “afters” – as Gandhi (or someone) once said, “the edge here is too much I cut myself.”

Unlike its frosty competitors, the people at Leeds are actually ‘edgy friendly’ – and isn’t that what being edgy is all about? There’s something about the community spirit of sharing a line of ket with Arabella in the Beaverworks toilets.

Leave your house with a rollie wearing neon spandex and you’re sure to be hailed as a fashionista. That ice cream van driving up and down Brudenell Road at 10pm during December? It sells really good 99 cones (read: cocaine).

Drum and bass, dub, garage and grime are rife because every white boarding school girl wants to skank it at jamz. To be fair, the line-ups at HighRise and Jungle Jam are dope, and you’re lying if you say you don’t want to see General Levy live six times a year.


It’s clear to see that when it comes to being alternative, Leeds has it in the bag. From the indie scene at Stone Roses to the dance scene at Canal Mills, a trail of glitter will always be yours to follow on the streets of Hyde Park come Saturday morning.


There’s simply no room for mainstream people here. After a week of moving in, you’ve already traded your Jack Wills gilet for a wavey vintage jacket without a zip – and there’s no turning back after that.

The Northern Quarter is the mecca for the edgiest hipsters in the city, drawing them in by their overpriced, oversized and under-washed garmswhich probably cost £2 from Oxfam. If it has holes in and looks like it belongs in the bin, you should probably buy it. And don’t you dare look like you’ve made an effort.


Fallowfield is home to the edgiest students of them all. The streets are swarmed with dreadlocks and dungarees with barely a brushed head of hair in sight. Before uni you probably thought it wasn’t acceptable to go out in your PJs, but here the just-rolled-out-of-bed vibe is key. You’ll never have to queue at the meat counter in Saino’s either cause we are totally about that vegan lifestyle. There’s no meat in MD right?

Speaking of which, when it comes to nights out we do it a bit different in Manc. You won’t catch us in the same club every week getting down to the NOW 89 CD club classics. You can keep your £2 trebles, we prefer a pricey can of Red Stripe or a bottle of water.  And you won’t catch us dead in a taxi – the magic-bus is way edgier.


Please take your predatory grinding elsewhere. We’d rather be getting ketty in a grimey basement steady mobbin to an underground reggae dub DJ who you probably won’t have heard of. You won’t catch us in a club where you have to queue for the smoking area either: a cig at least every hour is a ritual we live by – healthy lungs are so mainstream.


If Bristol was a shape it’d be a megagon. A delightful blend of genuine hippies and wavy home-counties kids unite together to get fucked off their tits on a regular basis. Living as a student in Bristol is like a permanent festival.

The nightlife in Bristol is a whole new dimension. In what other city would you find clubs that were once old law courts, fire stations or boats on the canal, along with barbecues, fairground rides & bonfires in the smokers’ areas?


Motion, a skatepark by day and pounding dance venue by night, was named one of the top clubs in the world. It boasts appearances of huge names such as Skepta, Dusky & Shy FX every week without fail.

Then we’ve also got Lakota, an underground dance venue in an old warehouse in Stokes Croft that hosts nights from garage, grime, house and DnB to psytrance. Oh, and it also has a laughing gas bar. Take that, Cameron.


For many, Newcastle is perceived as the land of the “Georgie Shores”.   A place where brawls take place outside Greggs. A place where you will meet guys called Keegen who will have no second thoughts about punching a horse at a football match. Yet it’s still dubbed the friendliest place on earth.

For students, however,  Newcastle is legit the epitome of edge. In a city heaving with crowds who pull off the “heroin chic” vibe freakishly well, just-rolled-out-of-bed hair,  Reeboks and patterned leggings are always held in high regard. Walking around Jesmond is like a who’s-who of oversized and faded Obey jumpers.

It’s a playground, home to some truly offbeat nightclubs – and I’m not just talking about Tup Tup. No other city has as many trebles bars as Newcastle. And the feel good vibes at Cirque du Soul, Drum & Bass at Bounce and house every week at Ill Behaviour will ensure those looking further afield will always be catered to.


While many argue for the case of Leeds, Bristol or Manchester. Let’s be real here. Manchester is ugly and industrial, Leeds is just ketty as fuck and Bristol well, Bristol isn’t bad at all. But it doesn’t have the charisma of Newcastle.