Cambridge Clubbing: A beginner’s guide
What a strange world of VKs, chinos and cheese we have
So you’ve made it. You’re a wizard, Harry.
You are now a student at the best university in the country and one of the top universities in the world. An institution backed by tons of history, numerous famous alumni and that wonderful academic rigour that we all hold so dearly in our hearts.
Immerse yourself in the bubble and you will find a lot to love.
You’ll meet amazing people, even if you don’t find your best friends straight away in fresher’s week. You’ll quickly adapt to the quirks and strange terminology. You’ll eventually get used to the workload. But one thing that you’ll come to realise is that the nightlife…leaves a lot to be desired.
Sure, we didn’t come here for the club scene, or lack thereof. That’s for the Oxbridge rejects at Bristol to enjoy while they gurn away their job prospects (at least, that’s what I tell myself as I stare into the abyss in the Cindies smoking area every Wednesday). But try as you might to defend it, it’s not ironic, oxymoronic or any other big word you might throw at it to disguise the fact that really, deep down, we all know it’s a bit shit.
I’m sorry if I’m sounding harsh but I’ll take my loud, repetitive and ever so slightly misogynistic rap bangers (#ballsohard) over the Circle of Life in a club situation any day of the week. Perhaps it’s the Brummie in me, who knows?
Still, cheesy as it is, you’ll learn to love the various options that the bubble provides you. These places will be the basis of many drunken memories and regrettable decisions and ultimately it’s the people that make them so enjoyable. Here’s what to expect.
Cindies – Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Don’t be fooled by the “Ballare” (Italian verb meaning “to dance”, how very Cambridge) sign on the outside, that’s the moniker that the ARU students and townies use. Cindies is the biggest club in Cambridge, although that’s not saying much – don’t expect multiple floors or anything ludicrously extravagant like that. Still, Wednesday Cindies is by far the most popular club night in the bubble and you’d be silly not to turn up.
Make sure to religiously attend every week in Michaelmas, for you’ll soon learn to adapt to starting the next week (Cambridge weeks start on a Thursday) with a hangover just fine (i.e. falling asleep in lectures, but it’s all part of the experience, right?). Bouncers can be a little gruff when it’s busy and once you’ve inevitably broken the seal after your third VK of the night, expect them to peer into cubicles at regular intervals to make sure you’re not taking any naughty salt. Expect cheesy tunes, relatively cheap drinks and seeing literally everyone you’ve ever met in the smoking area. Oh, and lots of queuing.
Life – Fridays and Sundays
The other big’un (in Cambridge terms), Sunday Life is another extremely popular club night and just like Cindies the club has an official name that no one uses – the fuck is a “Kuda” anyway? The music is marginally less cheesy and leans towards standard chart stuff – I once heard “Jumpman” at Friday Night Life and subsequently flipped my shit but alas, you’ll be lucky to hear any real bangers.
Floors are seemingly permanently sticky and the smoking area is literally just a side alley next to the club. Still, it’s good fun and staff tend to be friendly. It’s also home to Kaleidoscope, the biggest LGBT+ night in Cambridge which is good fun for all despite closing off half of the already pretty tiny dancefloor for no apparent reason.
Lola Lo’s – Thursdays
Apparently a “Tiki bar”, this Hawaiian themed club actually has different floors! Downstairs you can expect to hear R&B and chart stuff and upstairs there’s rock anthems and more cheese, as to be expected from Cambridge. The upstairs room is normally absolutely crammed so try not to lose your friends lest you be swallowed into the boogieing mass.
The smoking area at the top provides a nice respite from the chaos, although there’s no roof so be prepared for rain and pack a lighter that actually works. I’m surprised no one has accused the club of cultural appropriation yet, but its “exotic” theme can make a nice change from the rather mundane main two. Their infamous Jo-Bomb is pretty cheap, especially if you actually remember to bring the loyalty card they force upon you at Fresher’s Fair.
Fez – Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
“By music lovers, for music lovers” the website says, and admittedly the music at Fez is a lot better than at any other Cambridge club, playing a mixture of grime, rap and garage bangers. It’s just a shame it’s so dingy inside and once again, expect to be crammed in, especially towards the back.
Fez often receives the overspill when other nights are too busy, but it’s perhaps the best music-wise in Cambridge (Turf hipsters might have a bone to pick with me here) and the crowd is generally “wavier” than elsewhere, whatever that actually means. Friday nights are home to Propaganda, the main rock & indie night in Cambridge, although for reasons that continue to baffle me, no one really goes out at the weekend here.
Pretentious hipsters will love Turf, a house night that takes place a few times a term at venues as far afield as the Junction and attracts a more “edgy” (read: middle-class) crowd. ArcSoc puts on a few events a year that are well worth going to, although there’s always a mad scramble for tickets.
Revolution on Downing Street is a bar but has an interesting shot menu and decent music and everybody’s favourite Spoons (officially The Regal) on St. Andrew’s Street is, well, a Wetherspoons.
There’s also Q Club, which is never mentioned, probably because it’s so fucking far away on Station Road. And of course, don’t forget about the less obvious options for nights out: college “bops” (essentially school discos) can be good fun if you get plastered enough.
Either way, Cambridge does provide a fair few options for a decent night and while its club scene has been long derided, it becomes an integral part of your experience here, especially in first year.
You’ll soon figure out which nights suit your own tastes and in any case, being drunk with your friends in any setting is always a good laugh.