Bridge’s smoking area is the best night out in Oxford

We don’t even smoke


Where is the one place this side of Oxford where you could share a wet beef patty with Benedict Cumberbatch’s nephew and subsequently contract glandular fever?

“The Bridge Club” – Facebook tells us 7,568 of you like it, while its own website is quick to remind us how “the excellent reputation of the club is as much based on the friendly service and quality of music, as the venue itself.” Big clubs making big claims, each more vague and spurious than the last, c’est la vie.

But, until now, its main selling point has gone largely unrecognised…

Ostensibly, Bridge is (in no disrespect to the 7,568 of you) a “bad” club. “Bad” in the sense it doesn’t have great music, it’s not a great indoor space, and its beers are overpriced. But at the same time it has acquired a powerful aura, a charmed cultural status. It seems to have somehow occupied the same cultural niche as David Brent, Battersea Power station, and Bridget Jones.

Ultimately, Bridge Thursdays is to Oxford clubbing what Lineker is to Walkers: we’re not quite sure why we endorse the brand, or even why it became so abundant in the first place, but it means well and occasionally packs a perfect flavour. So what is so appetising about a Bridge Thursday?

The smoking area. El plaçe du smoke. Der raucherbereich. It can be a deal breaker for a club’s reputation and it’s certainly a game changer for the sessions which can take place. The Park Ends and the Cameras of this world don’t have anything to be proud of here. Their smoking areas have a distinctly cold, wet, and sober vibe. In real terms, [***spoiler alert***] their “smoking areas” are a lucrative means of shepherding us all into staying-the-fuck-inside and buying as many drinks as possible. But Bridge, for all its faults, can at least boast a more humane approach to the construction of its outdoor playpen.

To the inexperienced Bridger, there’s a similar danger of having a cold, wet, and sober time. But if you’re Anuba-savvy, cloakroom-resistant and immune to the VK epidemic then the smoking area becomes the ideal HQ for a fun Thursday night. Even on a cold rainy Thursday night in Oxford, one still feels the need to hit El Brigo’s most prized possession. The smoking area is the Promised Land for the quintessential Oxfordian-cum-social smoker. The pleasant astro turf surfacing of the floor provides support for the foot as you saunter your way through the “no bans land” between Anuba and Bridge whilst ensuring you definitely CAN do it on a cold, rainy Thursday night in Oxford. Let’s be straight: when you go to Bridge, you chill outside.

As a pleasant bonus you’ll find “no bad lads” out here. After all, Byron Goodman, veteran of the outdoor area, pointed out “you rarely get smashed in the smoking area”. Crucially, this is no place for the red-trouser, university-sport-tie-wearing wrecking ball who ploughs his way from corridor to corridor – it is a place of vibes and unadulterated chat without pretence. The seedy atmosphere of gyrating men in the Various Inconsequential Persons area is no more in this cool night-time haven.

Bridge possesses more than just an outdoor area of fumes and the half intoxicated – it’s seminal, it’s the Sgt. Peppers of smoking areas, its hip, it’s Vice magazine, it’s Lou Reed, and all in all it is testament to the clubbing experience. If someone asks, this is where I’ll be, where I’ll be.

As one sets foot into this pantheon of pre-rolled ciggies and half drunken mixers there is always a resounding feeling…this must be the place.