In Defence of Cambridge Nightlife

SHELBY WHYATT argues that Cambridge’s clubs are far from the shitelife described by Which? University.


The year was 2012 and, due to a complete inability to lie about my age without bursting into tears, it was my first night out in the glittering metropolis of Manchester. Where would we go? Who would we meet? I needn’t have got excited.The answers that week would be the same every week thereafter: “Tiger Tiger” and “our friends”. Naturally, I found myself pre-drinking in a Wetherspoons.

However, being about the tenth person to arrive, it took me a while to notice that a cougar had infiltrated our midst. In fact, it wasn’t until she tried to cop a feel that I even realised anything was wrong. Not that her physical advances were sexual, mind you. They were merely an attempt to show off, by comparison, the success of her latest boob job. Realising this, I subtly repositioned myself; youth may have been on my side, but I was still no match for silicon.

The next half hour was taken up by her deciding which of my male friends she’d have sex with, interspersed with occasional exclamations of, “Ooh, I wouldn’t mind teaching him a trick or two!”. I’ll never forget the way they gaped at her in lust-filled wonder, completely unperturbed by her insistence, every time the bouncer walked past, that she’d “ride him proper good later”. Of course, it wasn’t long before she tired of feeding their teenage fantasies and honed in on the fact that I was the only girl in a group of about fifteen.

After repeatedly asking me how many of them I’d slept with (“Come on love, not even a handjob?!”), she advised me to sell my virginity on eBay. Apparently I could get as much as £50,000. £50,000!

Cheeky bitch.

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Something for everyone

I was suddenly reminded of this… unfortunate incident upon reading a report by Which? University, who have this week concluded that Manchester has some of the most diverse nightlife in the country. I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you that Cambridge ranked far, far lower. But rather than roll over and let Cambridge be slammed with its traditional label of ‘shit nightlife’, I challenge Which? to define ‘diverse’. After all, I’ve never been accosted by a middle-aged nymphomaniac whilst at uni. So, in a bid to defend our reputation, here are my highlights of the Cambridge scene thus far:

1. Swaps – Putting aside the drunkenness, I want to highlight an aspect
of swaps which is often overlooked: the fact that you end up with a club
full of people in fancy dress. I once found myself in Cindies in a
floor-length velvet ball gown. Within five minutes I was sweating like a
whore in church, but that’s beside the point. Would you ever see
somebody in a dress which can only be described as resembling that worn
by Princess Fiona in Tiger, or 5th Ave, or Birdcage? Hmm? Ok, maybe
Birdcage, but you get my point.

A familiar sight.

2. The Van of Life – It’s the foodie’s equivalent of Russian Roulette,
just substitute a gun for the possibility of acute gastroenteritis.
There’s only one question you need to ask yourself when walking home
through market square: “Do I have anything to do tomorrow that won’t
involve me being, at most, three feet from a toilet/in A&E?”. If the
answer’s no, then go ahead take a chance.

3. Toilet Attendants – There is one woman who stands out amongst all
others, whose business-sense is second to none. This is a woman who will
charge you £1 for a paper towel when she’s stood right next to a hand
dryer. If that isn’t a hard-sell, I don’t know what is. In fact, I fully
expect to see her on the next series of The Apprentice. Far more
importantly though, she’s there for you when your friends are long gone.
She won’t judge you for sticking your unruly bodycon to your legs with
chewing gum in a last-ditch attempt to stop it rolling up like an
ill-applied condom. She’ll merely watch on in stoic silence. In fact,
she’ll probably try to sell you the chewing gum.

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Murder on the dance-floor.

4. Dress CodesThere are none! I periodically take about three hours
to get ready, and often to no avail. Aged just sixteen I was mistaken
for a prostitute in Piccadilly Gardens (what can I say? I wear a lot of
leather). Hair, make-up, arguments with your prematurely middle-aged
brother about how you need to cover up – there just isn’t the time for it
at Cambridge. And the clubs respect that! They’ll let you in looking
like you’ve just been discharged from hospital. Never again will I have
to try and jam an entire vanity case into a handbag the size of a
postcard! Never again will I fling it across the room in anger and leave
such essential items as a phone and keys at home! After all, fading
lipstick would be seen by the whole of Manchester; the three hours I’d
spend sat on the doorstep waiting for my mum to get up wouldn’t be.

So there you go, there’s just as much fun to be had in Cambridge as anywhere else. Potentially more, as you won’t be crippled by six-inch heels or the fear of flashing your knickers if you so much as lean forwards. And if you still think the grass is greener? Well, you’ve clearly never witnessed a middle-aged woman gyrating against a pole in the window of a Yates Wine Lodge.

In fact, you’ve clearly never visited a Yates Wine Lodge full stop.