REVIEW: ArcSoc Cabaret: ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’

LOTTIE HOWSON enjoys a night with Cambridge’s coolest kids, dressed to impress in their waviest garms.

Last Friday night, ArcSoc returned with another night of random wackiness. Having fought to get my hands on one of the coveted tickets, I didn’t really know what to expect.

I’ll put it out there, I’m not really an ArcSoc kinda gal, give me Wednesday Cindies any day. So walking to the Union in the pouring rain I couldn’t help thinking I should have sold my ticket for a hundred quid to one of the hundreds desperate to attend one of Cambridge’s quirkiest events.

On approaching the entrance, we encountered two hill-like constructions made of pipes or maybe hula hoops. Were these the mysterious pleasure domes?

are these the pleasure domes?

Pleasure domes or broken hula hoops? Credit: Nicole Ng, ArcSoc.

On entering, the walls and floors were strewn with every kind of shiny, colourful substance known to man. In terms of decoration the architects definitely did not disappoint, a trail of red and gold streamers guided people from room to room and weird unidentifiable objects were hanging everywhere. Like a bed sheet and loads of washing up gloves. A make up artist was sitting in the lobby doing her thing, painting wacky, and sometimes quite frankly scary designs on peoples’ faces.


Dressing to impress (p.s. spot the couple)

When going to the cloakroom guests were confronted with thought-provoking pictures of a man stuffing a doughnut in his mouth. It didn’t quite beat the blown up sex dolls of Arcsoc’s Halloween bash, but the pictures were intriguing nonetheless. The wall covered in pictures of eyes was another favourite place to get an instagram-worthy picture.


So yum. Credit: Tom Davidson, Arcsoc

The union chamber, usually home to the likes of Calvin Klein and Jeremy Vine, was transformed into some sort of “pleasure den”. Black and white film projections flickered on the walls and wordless music blared out of the speakers. The music was unknown and edgy, of course, and although I can’t say I recognised a single song all night, the DJ sets were all very good.

Everyone seemed to love it, expressing their approval with flailing limbs and hardcore grinding. A room of live music was tucked away behind the bar, packed with students dancing to performances by Gaby and the Gardeners, Adelaide, Rival Skies and Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble (which is just the best band name ever).

arcsoc mania

Real cool vibes in the live music room. Credit: Nicole Ng, ArcSoc.

The range of people, music and activities made the night fantastically unpredictable. The life drawing room was another unusual addition to the night. I was surprised by people’s capacity to actually draw at varying levels of intoxication. The turn-around was pretty quick and we didn’t get a lot of time to ponder on our creations but it was still an enjoyable, albeit surreal, experience.

rad outfits

Some rad accessories made an appearance.

My only real criticism of the night was the toilet situation. The queue for the women’s toilet predictably took hours. It was controlled by a particularly vigilant security guard, who ended up kicking me out of the queue all together when I made a mad dash to the men’s toilets. Either there needed to be more toilets or a more relaxed approach to toilet sharing.

all gold errythang

All gold everything. Credit: Nicole Ng, ArcSoc

Overall it was a night of discovery and intrigue. I would give it 4/5 only because sometimes I found myself questioning whether it was entirely worth the money. It didn’t help that the drinks at the cash-only bar were pricey as well. But what it lacked in practical value, it made up for in dazzling design and mystique.

It really was a night to remember. Although, let’s be honest, most people probably won’t.