The Waterfront is the best night out in Norwich

Unless, of course, you don’t like the Arctic Monkeys


The Waterfront is without any shadow of a doubt the best night spot in Norwich. The place has gained an almost mythical status over the years for having the best atmosphere and holding the most consistently fun club nights anywhere in the city.

Okay, so it might be a bit of a treck from uni, but grab a group of friends, jump on a 25 or 26 bus, and you’re almost guaranteed to bump into at least one other person you know by the time you’re in. And because you’re going to The Waterfront, it’s more than likely to be a course mate or society buddy you actually like.

You know a club's special when it gets its own road sign.

You know a club’s special when it gets its own road sign

What’s in it for you?

The best Waterfront night is undoubtedly Friday’s Propaganda. I’ve lost count of the number of weird and wonderful themed events they’ve put on and the souvenirs I’ve collected, but I never thought I’d end up with a medal, an inflatable seagull and a string of American flag bunting under my bed. The pizza parties are famous, as are the appearances of well-known guests to DJ: Peaky Blinders actor Packy Lee visited at the start of term and Libertines drummer Gary Powell hits the decks the week before Christmas.

You can also have the best of both worlds. With club nights taking place in the gig venue, by all means muscle to the front and mosh if you want to. But you can also wander to the back of the room where there’s plenty of space, and chill out.

Propaganda providing some ideal cover-photo fodder.

Propaganda providing some ideal cover-photo fodder

A walk on the wild side

But that’s not all The Waterfront has to offer. Oh no. If you’re brave enough to go upstairs, there’s the smaller alternative room, normally playing heavier rock and metal. I only really stagger in there to get to the cloakroom, or because I’m a bit lost, and I always come out a little bit shaken. Still, to each his own I guess…

Then there’s the magic shrinking smoking area that suddenly transforms from spacious garden to cramped shelter in the blink of an eye, probably more thanks to licensing regulations than fairy dust. With beautiful waterside views towards, er, Wetherspoons, this is an ideal place to second-hand inhale some smoke and ponder life, or whether you’ve got enough coins for another can of Hooch without breaking into the next tenner.

A lovely sophisticated view

Preparing yourself: what you need to know

The Waterfront is always excessively hot, but there’s something quite endearing about the fact you’re all getting sweaty together. It certainly makes finding an air vent an unexpected pleasure. But that doesn’t matter quite so much thanks to the absence of a dress code.

If you object to getting turned away elsewhere for making the place look untidy with your Adidas Originals by, um, a bouncer in a fluorescent jacket, you’ll encounter no such problems at The Waterfront. People can dress for comfort- they’re there to have a good time with friends, not because it’s the place to be seen- we’ve all had a hard week and need to let our hair down. Smart, casual, fancy dress; everyone’s welcome. As long as they accept the godlike status of Alex Turner, that is.

The Waterfront is an honest venue. They don’t try to rip you off- I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than £5 to get in for a club night, and sometimes a good deal less. Drinks are the best value anywhere I’ve been. With two Jagerbombs for £5 and £2.20 for a can of Hooch you can’t go wrong really. Plus, they use plastic cups so no horrible broken glass to negotiate. I also heard on the grapevine they give free entry to people who write nice articles about them. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Get there early for cheaper entry, and to avoid queuing...

Get there early for cheaper entry, and to avoid queuing…

...But maybe not quite this early.

…but maybe not quite this early

Aural pleasure

A word on the music itself. The Waterfront is unquestionably the best place in Norwich for indie classics. You always know roughly what’s coming with a typical playlist populated by the likes of The 1975, The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellis, The Killers etc. Plus, we’re treated to some Waterfront stalwarts. For example, visiting DJs always, without fail, play AC/DC’s Back in Black on their first visit- relish the awkwardness as no-one dances after the first verse and the song is soon changed.

Other regulars include Jamie T’s Sticks ‘N’ Stones, the incredibly popular Africa by Toto (I don’t know why either) and Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way to finish, which never fails to make a happy tear prick the corner of my eye. If you want cutting edge new tunes then don’t bother. But if you like the comfort of singing your heart out to Teenage Dirtbag, All Star, Hey Ya or Heaven is a Halfpipe then look no further.

It's over for another week.

It’s over for another week

Send me on my way

After all that, there’s the terrible dilemma of whether to bail in time for the last bus from the train station at 2:45 (when it decides to come, that is), or stick it out until half three and phone a taxi. If thrift is your thing, you could always be an absolute legend and brave the walk back to uni with friends- at least it’ll give the ringing in your ears a chance to abate and the sweat a chance to dry your hair into actually quite an indie style. Either way, you’ll be left with a night of great memories, and an itching to do it all again next week.