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The five stages of a college bop

How your standard year six disco (with alcohol) goes down


The collegiate university experience is fantastic, giving you a sense of belonging impossible to achieve as effectively on a wider university level. However, upon arriving in Cambridge, you quickly realise that there are many quirks that students from non-collegiate universities will find a bit odd. Undoubtedly, the best of these is the trademark bop – an unusual cross-over between a year 6 disco and a house party and a way better night than either. Each college puts their own spin on it, and each person's relationship with bops changes as they transition from being a naïve fresher to a practised finalist. At Pembroke, bops only take place twice a term with the result of course being a lot of hype and even more messiness. Here are the 5 stages of a bop based on my own personal experiences:

1. The Pres

At this early stage in the evening you begin to get an indication of the kind of effort your fellow students have put into their costumes. A lot of this will depend on the theme. Too boring and the costumes will reflect this, too difficult and no one, save a dedicated few, will bother. Bop pres start early and are a big part of the night. A bop night is loaded in the first half of a night; start drinking at seven, start bopping at 10 (then head to bed at 12, you need your eight hours).

2. The STI test

You’ve made it in before they jack up the ticket price and head straight for the most 21st century uni party innovation – take an STI test in exchange for a free drink (completely normal, right?). It’s genius but also quite disorientating. I cannot imagine this was what my parents' generation was doing before a night out at uni.

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It's definitely worth the free drink

3. The First Half

The two people who entered at the advertised time are finally joined by the masses and the night can truly begin. You race through your allocated drinks very quickly. The JCR is suddenly transformed into a sweaty pit of over-excited students, and you're able to appreciate the overly cheesy music and decorations the amazing ents officers have spent their precious time putting up (BIG LOVE to all you ents officers reading).

4. The Descent

Four hours in and the divide begins to show between those fun enough to enjoy a night sober, and those for whom the rest of the night will just be a literal descent towards the floor. A few hours of drinking in and the floor is now awash with people awkwardly getting off with each other (thus setting up a further 3 years of awkward run ins in staircases). We all know that Cambridge is a very small place and that you are guaranteed to see your former drunken hook-ups considerably more often than you’re comfortable with (freshers take this as a fair warning).

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Shameless dancing and singing are a must at a bop

5. The Aftermath and Regrets

With the JCR thoroughly trashed, everyone is kicked out to part ways. If you make it out to the clubs, kudos, you’ve done a lot better than the majority who are barely capable of unlocking their doors and fall into bed (try your hardest not to anger your neighbours and porters too much in this process). You’ll probably have physically recovered by the following evening, with just the faint memories and regrets left in your mind.

Bops are a fundamental part of Cambridge life and our work-filled, sleep-deprived lives are greatly improved by their existence. May they live long in our memories and remain an institutional part of our terms forevermore!

Photo Credits: PemEnts with photos