KATIE FORSTER and TOM TYLDESLEY give disparate verdicts on ArcSoc’s Dystopia.

By Katie Forster:

[rating: 5/5]

The queue outside the highly publicised Dystopia event is a testament to the success of Cornucopia last term;  by 10pm police were called to control those who were not early enough, dressed up enough, or well-connected enough to get through the doors of the latest ArcSoc Cabaret.

Protesters over £8 price tag were silenced on entry. Flashing balloons and hanging mannequins were watched over by an illuminated ‘big brother’ style eye in the upstairs bar, while in the room next door the crowd danced to drum and bass and ’90s garage in a suspension of mummified teddy bears and dismembered dolls. The nightmarish theme was completed with surreal and disconnected projections of baby animals, scenes from The Sims and images of Cher Lloyd. The cabaret continued in the downstairs rooms with free face painting and life-drawing. The impressive white triangular structure outside, with a giant disco ball scattering stars of light into the courtyard made a striking centrepiece.

There was not as much live entertainment as at last term’s party, but what little there was was excellent. A dance troupe performed contemporary pieces and outside The Staircase Band played an impromptu set.

Dressing up was half the fun of the night, and costumes ranged from the dedicated (glowstick filled syringes and a flowering bush for hair), the risqué (stick on fur… and nothing else), and the half-hearted (the recycled Father Christmas costume or a Mexican poncho).

Cheap drinks abounded, but inevitably resulted in the problem of long queues for the toilets and bars. This didn’t stop Dystopia from being an amazing night, though, the sort of which we’d like to see more of in Cambridge.

By Tom Tyldesley:

[rating: 2/5]

With so many people lured to the Architecture Faculty by the pretentiously vague Facebook pages (“Location: you know where”) and the promise of debauchery it was unsurprising that the venue was full to bursting.

Outdoor space raised capacity, but seeing as most people don’t want to spend the whole evening outside there were crushes on the stairs and the dance floors, and bar service slowed down. A simple calculation should have told the organisers that more than 6 toilet cubicles were needed. Maybe portaloos next time?

There were some brilliant ideas, but several fell flat when put into practice. Life-drawing could have been a highlight, but there was no way of keeping hold of your finished piece. Generous dispensing of black paint meant the floor rapidly came to resemble the Mexican gulf. The dance performances were restricted by a tiny performance space downstairs.

Promising an impressive 16 DJ line-up I was expecting to hear a wide musical variety, possibly underground stuff given the Facebook content. Although it was certainly not Cindies fare, I had frustrating déjà entendu hearing Adele’s Rolling In The Deep for the fourth time and Amerie’s 1 Thing with more than three plays. Several other songs got at least four repeats too. At one point music for the downstairs room was actually the DJ’s phone plugged in playing ringtones- a dystopian future for vinyl lovers everywhere. Evidently quantity of DJs had been prioritised over quality. The Staircase Band performed and were excellent, as usual.

Decoration in the main room was exceptional; outdoors had bubble wrap banners illuminated by rotating flickers of light cast by a humongous disco ball. Unfortunately some of the other decorations lacked the elegance of this set-up. Beautifully grotesque images plastered many walls but were largely ignored by the drunken denizens as they stumbled downstairs into a Fritzl-style basement, adorned with hanging red lights and chains. All of this was very fitting, but the low-hanging light bulbs/metal chains pairing was, electrically speaking, a bit risky, especially given several of the bulbs were broken by flailing limbs of the dancing mass.

As the event drew to a close a fire alarm meant evacuation for the remaining partygoers. The set-up downstairs of an entire PA system powered by a single plug socket meant the music cut out on several occasions, so my guess is that something must have short-circuited. No wonder.

At least the drinks were cheap.

With thanks to Emily Bocking for the photos.