Review: Cindies

Merrow Golden reviews Cindies with the critical rigour of one of your better supervision essays.

Ballare Cindies Club Gardies Van VK

(A Structural-functionalist’s approach to a night at Cindies)

It is often thought- provoking to reflect on one’s daily activities with a critical eye. I am not to argue that the trip to Cindies is likely to have become one of any Cambridge student’s daily activities, yet I feel most are shocked by the frequency to which this delightful venue is visited by certain individuals per term. My question is simple…why?

Why do so many return as often as they do to this place, refer to it with such a worrying sentiment of love and adoration and look on those who refuse to venture out on a cold Wednesday night as ‘traitors’. What makes Cindies so infamous?

The simplest way to explain this social ritual seems to be to describe the ‘average’ night at Cindies. Perhaps this may highlight the catch. Here goes. It is clear that the most popular of nights is a Wednesday, although Tuesdays are often busy as well partly because of name drop stars such as Barry from Eastenders and ‘that girl’ off Hollyoaks. The problem with its popularity has to be the size of the queue. However, it is a well known fact that people become fond of complaining, and it strikes me that this queue can often increase the excitement of the journey. It gives those waiting a chance to check out the talent, many trying desperately to spot a friendly face in order to cut out ten minutes of waiting time. It also provides ample time to finish off any portable beverages that need to be consumed. The excitement seems bolstered by the joys of proceeding to the next category of queuers, those on the far steps. These privileged few have the ability to look behind them and count themselves lucky that they remembered to get cash out earlier in the day. In addition to this queue hierarchy, there is the upper class of queue jumpers (official ones) who can flash cards, ties, blazers and whatever else comes into the imagination and proceed in front of the masses to the left, feeling proud that they have indeed achieved something in life (the real meaning of the term not the rival venue).

Once in and safely through the confusion of id, student discounts and transferring of little pieces of paper, there is an obvious confusion: should one face the queue for the cloakroom at once, or risk holding or hiding their over garments til later. Rash decisions are usually made depending on levels of intoxication. Then there is the second decision: where to go. This also often depends on intoxication…one obvious example is the infamous trip to the toilets. Those sober enough to remember last week’s adventures will note that earlier is better and although they are likely to unfortunately appreciate the scenery much more, at least they won’t face the dangerous crowds that are likely to follow later. Rather than venturing for the lavatory, some will charge to the bar to demand their VKs, others may charge to the bar only to hover nearby and wait cunningly for an unsuspecting debit card user to order £20 worth of such VKs and take three while they’re not looking. On the other hand, others perhaps those who have already had their fair share of VKs will head for the dance floor, where songs such as Queen’s ‘Having a good time’ and the theme tune to Baywatch never fail to bring excitement.

These are trends that any observant club goer will notice. An example of classic Cindies behaviour, that only those more acquainted with the place may note, is the ‘route’. Most people seem to admit to having gone on the ‘route’. It is normally prompted when one finds oneself alone, bored or with a desire to find a particular other. One will walk the circumference of the dance floor, squeezing past hundreds of others, avoiding drink spillages and broken glass. What is ironic is that although most go with the aim of finding a friend, many in fact pass friends, smile say hello and keep walking. Only to then come to the end of the route alone. Some have been known to repeat this behaviour five or six times a night. Often with an extension to the smoking area which seems much more exciting.

By the end of the night, in an average group of friends, one person is bound to have cried, vomited or been escorted to the door, or in particularly lucky groups all three (though hopefully not the same individual). At 2pm the lights are turned back on, blinding anyone left remaining. There is a rush to the cloakroom, those last are severely punished in loss of time. Then there is the infamous trip home, highlighting another part of Cambridge identity: the gardies/van of life divide. Any money not already lost on overpriced curries or the above VKs, is now spent on ‘cheesy chips’, with the added amusement of having a photo of the moment forever saved on the wall. Then it remains to stumble back home usually singing and trying to plan the day around the inevitable hangover.

From the outside, a night at Cindies does not appear to have much appeal, the music is pure cheese every time, often following a suspiciously similar pattern of songs. The drinks are quite standard but often require bar times of up to 15 minutes, and the smell of sweat, VKs and strong cologne normally hits you at the ticket desk. Most people confess to going because everyone else does, not in a sheep like manner but because they want to spend time with friends, and friends go to Cindies. Others go to meet particular persons for romantic reasons. It seems that whatever the professed reasoning, people will continue to choose Cindies as their destination on a Wednesday night for the near future. I feel that it is the conformity that Cindies brings to Cambridge life, the feeling of routine and heritage that maintains its attraction. It could, in fact, be that Cindies is an example of the continued importance of social institutions and traditions to identity formation and a sense of belonging, and that this is the reason for its popularity. Either this or the possibility that by 9 o’clock one is so ‘faced’ that they cannot remember why it was they vowed never to return the week before…