Into the Heart of Darkness: KCLSU
In an act of audacious bravery UCL students infiltrate Kings Union
We all know UCLU, and to a lesser extent ULU. We love our Unions; Sports Nights, £1 beer on Mondays, TFI Fridays at ULU – loads of quality nights out and all very cheap. But what of KCLU? Could it possibly compare? Are the prices lower? Could it be, a thought one should never voice, better?
We decided to find out. Enlisting the help of ‘KCL Student’ (an anonymous inside source; name withheld for his own protection), we did our research. King’s College Union is located near Temple Underground station, on the Thames. According to their websites they have “WTF” Friday nights at the top floor club in the venue, “Tutus”. ‘KCL Student’ insisted this night was both “banging” and “dirt cheap.” What followed was in some was unexpected, and in most ways disappointing.
Armed with our companions – two girls from Kings, two girls from UCL, we ventured into the unknown.
The Beginning – Predrinks
Predrinks went smoothly at a Euston venue. ‘KCL Student’ was interrogated thoroughly by the UCL girls, who were extremely sceptical of all things Kings, and not mixing well with the females from KCL. After enough alcohol was imbibed to begin to set foot south of Covent Garden, we departed via the Underground, keeping an eye on ‘KCL Student’ in case he was leading us into a trap. Varsity was fresh on our minds, and this chap knew the rugby team (if you can even call them that after their display).
The Underground trip was relatively uneventful, KCL girls and ‘KCL Student’ extremely enthusiastic about bringing us along. Emphasis on how “sick” the nights are at the Union, and now “they make ULU look like shit.” We take everything with a healthy and justified amount of complete scepticism.
See Picture 11: Left to Right: ‘UCL Student’, the UCL girls, ‘KCL Student’ (behind), and the two authors of this article
We reach the Union. First impressions? It’s big. Bigger, I’m sorry to say, than UCLU. Security is nonexistent – a bored Polish woman who doesn’t even look at our IDs before waving us in. ‘KCL Student’ ushers us to the lifts, taking us to the 2nd floor, where their bar is, for continued predrinks.
See Picture 12: The lift was completely stupid. Street level is on floor -2; cue confusion after a few drinks.
The bar is, in a word, massive. Pool table, multiple booths, DJ deck, small stage and a gorgeous view of the Thames. It’s also pretty much empty, and the DJ is spinning his stuff alone.
See Picture 1
We got to the bar and inquire about drinks prices – it’s Friday, and the colourful posters proclaim “Great Deals!” on this night:
- Carlsberg + Equiv: £2.50/pint
- Vodka shot + Equiv: £2.50
- Mixed Drink (single): £3
- Jaegerbomb: £2
See Pictures 2 & 3: Great deals, but seemingly no beers available. When we asked, Carling was also sold out.
Aside from the Jaegerbombs, everything is more expensive than at UCLU and ULU. We’re decidedly unimpressed, and split into teams to go and investigate the toilets, leaving the KCL students to get us seats.
See Picture 4: They acquired a booth for us, but were not impressed at us mocking their Union
Female toilets: reported as extremely grim, “much worse than even ULU on a Friday”. Most toilets out of order, one taped up. Also, according to one of the UCL girls, there were far too few cubicles for any sort of reasonable traffic flow (I am not an expert on these matters, so take her word for it).
Male toilets: A depressing sight. Varsity stickers plaster the walls, most of them now ripped up or crossed out, with “WE’RE SHIT!” written over one of the posters. A guy is on all fours throwing up directly onto the floor, with his mate texting next to him. My first experience with Kings students in their natural habitat.
See Picture 5: The toilets in all their glory
Music and Atmosphere
There’s no other way to put this, the music is just awful. 90s cheesy pop, and not the good cheesy pop. Lesser known Spice Girls songs and some Backstreet Boys. “KCL Student” tries to get us to dance, we resist assaulting him. Some rather unattractive girls from KCL get on the stage and gyrate to the shouts of some people in the booths. Mildly nauseating.
See Picture 6: Apologies for the poor photography; King’s students appear to be extremely unphotogenic.
Deciding to make a night of it, we order a good portion of Jaegerbombs, which all come premixed and warm, with the bar staff dropping one as they were talking to their friends. YMCA comes on as the UCL girls pound back drinks and challenge the KCL girls to a danceoff. They oblige.
Over the course of the next twenty minutes the UCL girls manage to get something of a party going, with some people finally on their feet. This culminates in an intimate encounter between the girls on the stage, before the crowd realise they’re from UCL and try to act like they weren’t interested. We are told by ‘KCL Student’ to now go to Tutus, so we pile into the elevator to the fourth floor.
It’s shut. A big bike lock on the door, with the WTF poster next to it proclaiming today this club night is on. We were slightly confused, but there was literally no-one there. Having a look inside showed a club approximately the size of Roxy, with a large stage and DJ booth, with a small bar in the corner. The place looked reasonable, but this didn’t mean anything as it wasn’t even open!
See Picture 7: One of the UCL girls tries to open the door, but unfortunately we were denied entry
Gutted, we return downstairs.
See Picture 8
Attempting to Salvage
Extremely displeased, we make ‘KCL Student’ take punishment shots as YMCA and the Macarena play in an alternating repeat (3 times each) as the DJ just gives up. Bar staff get my order of a Carlsberg and two Jaegerbombs wrong twice, and spill Carlsberg on me. At this point it seems like a nightmare, and by midnight the UCL students are the only ones left in the bar besides a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing KCL students who are trying to (wildly unsuccessfully) grind with the UCL girls, who are extremely unimpressed.
See Picture 9 & 10: This was the most active the dancefloor got, and this DJ is literally a crime against music.
To the sound of Olly Murs (the only artist resembling anything contemporary played all night), we leave, and sneak into Walkabout around the corner.
Our verdict? The venue is aesthetically very nice. The views are excellent, and the bar was big and roomy. That’s where the positives end.
The toilets were dire, and this is coming from someone who has been to UCLU Sports Night toilets. The place was not smokers-friendly; you have to go down in a lift (to floor -2!) to get your fix, and if you were in the Tutus top floor club this a bit of a trek for a cigarette. The prices were in no way competitive, and the bar staff pretty bad. The music was one of the worst I have ever heard; it was almost as though the DJ was in his own 90s time bubble, and he declined any requests.
The fact the website and posters seemed to lie about the events that evening was strange.
The final answer?
It’s as we expected. The Strand PoKingsly cannot compare to UCL.