Conquering Cambridge Part 1

The Tab starts you on your journey to success in Cambridge.

| UPDATED Cindies Daily Mail Gardies Life

Welcome Freshers of 2012. The bellows of ‘Down it Fresher’ whenever you go near a beverage and the repetition of strange words such as ‘bumps’, ‘swaps’ and ‘townies’ may be leaving you a little overwhelmed by the university at which you have just arrived.

But never fear for The Tab has compiled this guide to help you look like you actually know what the hell you’re doing here…

1. Nightlife: let’s start with what will become the lifeblood of your Cambridge existence (aside from work, naturally). Cambridge ‘boasts’ several clubs, all of varying levels of sweat and dinginess.

The most popular, resplendent in its smelliness and glorious in its tackiness, is Cindies – your weekly dose of cheesy hits from the 90s. Officially titled Ballare after its 67th rebranding, but to us it’s Cindies and always will be. It dominates Tuesday and Wednesday nights along with Sunday which it shares with Life.

Who knew Cindies could look so appealing?

Life has a completely illogical layout (the exit is hidden at the back – no doubt a subtle ploy to prevent you from leaving), and also happens to be the most godless place on the planet, second only to Mahal (see part 5).

It is also popular on a Thursday night though rivals Cambridge’s newest club, Lola Lo’s. This exotic-themed late night establishment has a roof terrace, light-up dance floor and a slightly elevated level of hygiene. Free monkey nuts upstairs. Rooftop bar. Ballin’.

Tab Tip: Make friends with the ginger bouncer outside Life and she just might let you jump the queue every once in a while. She’s a real tiger.

2. Midnight Snacks: by day 3 of week 0 you will learn that no good night out is complete without a kebab of dubious meat source.

Thankfully, Market Square is replete with eateries to meet this need. The Van of Life (though you might wonder how life can be considered to originate from a greasy fast food van) is located here, as is Uncle Frank’s, popularly known as the Van of Death.

Kebab lovers, take note


It has no distinguishable difference from its more vivacious counterpart aside from the fact that it sells kebabs. Nearby Gardies is perhaps more classy (it actually has a roof). If you’re lucky, they’ll take your picture and put it on their wall. And then take it down again a fortnight later.

Tab Tip: Persuade Vaz (Gardies chip man) to let you work behind the counter. After 10 minutes’ work, you’ll receive a free kebab for your trouble.

3. Tourists: getting in the way of cyclists since air transport reached the masses, these people will soon become the bane of your life.

You’ll find them crowding Garret Hostel (orgasm) bridge, selfishly robbing you of that crucial minute between grabbing the last seat and doing the walk of shame into a lecture in full swing.

Or else they’ll be creating impossibly long ice cream queues on King’s Parade, which leave you woefully sugar deprived. Compensation is achieved when you saunter past lines of impatient tour groups outside King’s and flash your uni card in glorious triumph.

Tab Tip: Ensure that your bike has a working bell. It’ll make those tourists scatter faster than you can say ‘Kim Jong-il’.

4. Drinking Societies: you may have thought you’d left cliques behind at school and that university would be an effortless, yet beautiful example of harmonious humanity.

Wrong. Cambridge hasn’t progressed too far from the school playground. Every college tends to have at least one male and one female drinking society. Freshers will create their own group, generally open to everyone, from which the established societies will draw their initiates.

They hold initiations in the summer which The Daily Mail pounce upon like Christmas has come early.

Tab Tip: Make sure you’re around in Jesus Green on Caesarian Sunday (start of Exam Term) to watch the first initiations AND make your debut in the national press.

5. Swaps: drinking societies revolve around swaps. You may also have thought that your last ever taste of organised fun was in that game of musical chairs at that party in Year 3 but fear not because it’s back, sweeter than ever.

Swaps are generally held at cheap restaurants bordering on squalor, where the food is poor and the alcohol comes by the bucket. Two drinking societies turn up in humiliating costumes and down copious amounts of booze to overcome the awkwardness of sitting in between random people they’ve never met.

There are the usual embarrassing hook-ups that are mercilessly rekindled in all subsequent games of ‘Never Have I Ever’. You get the picture…the most notorious swap destination is Mahal, with which you will soon become all too familiar.

Don’t let the sign fool you into thinking that this is a classy establishment


Tab Tip: Whatever you do, don’t choose to empty your bladder in the Mahal toilets. We’ve seen more facepalms in urine puddles than any man should ever see.

Check back again on later this week for the next 5 steps in our guide!