Kambar Closing Is A Loss To Us All

Culture Editor and Filthy Lucre founder JOE BATES: without Kambar, Cambridge will be a poorer and less exciting place to be.

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In the hours after the news of Kambar’s passing hit the internet, there was a noticeable split in my news feed. Half my friends were laughing at the hipsters crying. The other half… well, the other half were crying hipsters.

But the loss of Kambar is something that everyone, not just those with skinnies and Gauloises, should mourn. Because, despite its faults, Kambar was, to the last, a truly independent venue.

The essential difference between Kambar and Cindies/Fez/Life/Lola Lo was not the music or the clientele. Those symptoms were the façade of a structural contrast: every night worth going to at Kambar was run by students.

Unlike competitors, it only had two permanent weekly slots – Friday and Saturday. Every other slot was a free for all. If you had the guts to risk the minimum spend, the place was yours for the night.

And what glorious nights they were. The sheer energy and creativity that went into student-organised nights outstripped anything pulled out of Luminar’s (Cindies’ parent company) box of tricks. Big companies have to make safe, generalised decisions. And safe decisions means not dangling mannequins from the ceiling, not putting stand-up comedy on a dance floor, not using peoples’ head shavings for fake whiskers.

This matters, whatever your take on Arc Soc and its ilk, because Cambridge should be a place where people have the opportunity to excel. It is, in part, a dynamic culture of entrepreneurialism that makes Cambridge such a great place to be. By sacrificing part of that, not only do we make Cambridge a less exciting place, but we also lose real potential – good ideas may never surface. If it weren’t for nights such as National Rail Disco, the excellent Clean Bandit would have had a tougher time starting out.

Being around people who have the bollocks to turn a madcap idea into a successful evening is exhilarating. Now they may never have the chance.

Joseph Bates is a co-founder of Filthy Lucre, who had an evening booked in Kambar for next term. Bugger.