Unit 1: The more things change, the more they stay the same

The awful sordid truth about Arena’s makeover

Exeter’s current and former crop of Arenites ranted and raged this summer as the legendary club had a rebrand. Its notoriety for being a brilliant club night was under threat. However, Arena still exists, albeit slathered in even more make up than the average Saturday-nighter used to wear. As well as having been filled with “VIP” zones which have no place being there at all, evicting the boozer’s lauded podiums.


As a member of one of Exeter’s mythical cults, known only as fourth year, I’m adequately qualified to review this new player – having experienced all Arena had to offer. Dirty Sexy People, cheesies, hit the deck Thursday, Arena Friday, and even Saturday once or twice. From the highs of rocking the podium with jungbomb in hand to the lows of the ceiling collapsing or the failing air conditioning, Arena had it all.

It lacked the pretentiousness of Mosaic and the uniqueness of TP but was perfect in its own right. We do still mourn the loss of the infamous end-of-night-shirt-taking-off while shouting along to the Baywatch theme, though.

The author, just last year

Yes the sticky carpet has gone, yes they’ve replaced the podiums with stupid VIP areas, but that was happening last year anyway. Yes the bouncers now wear waistcoats that make them look like cut rate maître d’s. Yes the prices of everything have gone up. By everything I mean VKs, because VKs are my everything. But that’s happened everywhere (Timepiece doubles or Lemmy VK’s anyone?).

The male toilets are the same decrepit ones they’ve always been, Onyeka is still there. The bars are in the same place. Original Sin is staying on Monday, cheesy Tuesday is still on the menu. Alas “hit the deck” Thursday is now “antics” but it is still as morbidly fantastic as it used to be. More importantly, DJ Wilby is still doing his thing.


Yes Unit 1 wants you to believe it is a new club with so much more to offer. It wants you to think it’s changed and reinvented itself. However, in the same way anyone coming back from a gap yah claims, this veneer of glitz and glam hides the sordid truth. It is just as bad as it ever was, and that’s OK.

There is however one way, in which Unit 1 can capture the essence of Arena and allow us to welcome its arrival to probably the best university in the world with open arms.