A brief history of how Oxford became cooler than Cambridge

Have you ever seen a bucket hat on the River Cam? Didn’t think so


Oxford thinks it’s edgy.  It may even think it’s edgier than it actually is. But it is definitely, absolutely and 100 per cent edgier than Cambridge. Tie dye. We got it. Reebok classics. Hell yeah. Bucket hats. Please.

Wave after wave

Allow former Cantab Harry Shukman to explain: “Just look at the history. When the puritan scholars left Oxford to found Cambridge in 1209, it was because they couldn’t handle their pingers and just wanted to study in peace. They made a home for themselves in the windswept Fens, a sexless enclave where they could be left alone from the party animals of Oxford.

“Fast-forward to 2015 and there’s no real difference. The edgiest it ever got in Medieval Cambridge would have been a moment of solitary, hollow bliss wanking off over Genesis 2:25, it’s the same now but with laptops and Eduroam.

“There might be a glimmer of excitement in exchanging a blushing glance with a girl in brown shoes riding a bicycle, but for the true edginess of discovering ska in your mate from Fulham’s band in Cellar, Oxford will always be cooler.”

Jungle flower corduroy shirt, check

This tragic comment sums up the current bleak outlook over at the banks of the River Cam. Luckily, we’re picking up the slack, as we have done for centuries.  Here’s how.

13th Century: the first colleges are established. How?  Rioting.

Not long after, John Wyclif, a 14th-century Master of Balliol, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular, against the wishes of the papacy. Cambridge dreams of John’s brand of radicalism.

What’s more, Oxford was the first to officially permit women to become full members of the University in 1920. Cambridge did this too, just 17 years later. And they’re still not quite in with the times.

Dat jacket, dat glitter

Just look at us now.

Our nightlife is great. Berlin’s biggest DJ Levon Vincent has played here twice. We have tens of underground music club nights. Simple, Subverse, Patchwork, SE10, Playground, Playhouse the list goes on.  Included in this list is the infamous Turf, who recently hosted renowned UK DJ Ben UFO at The Bullingdon.

While Turf operates in Cam, “they’re the only promoter putting on that sort of night, as far as I know” admits an un-named Cam grad.  The demand for techno, electro, DnB and the like in Ox by contrast is clearly at an all-time-high. It’s because we are edgy. Remember when Camera got shut down? Why? It’s because we were too edgy. “Does Cambridge have a Cellar equivalent?” asks Abi Ashford, cool-as-fuck Ox undergrad, “Doubtful. Doubtful.”

Does Cambridge even have a night club?


Fashion is our thing.  Creepers, chokers, crops. We got them. Every Thursday we have a vintage market.  Our charity-shop game is on point. Abi agrees: “Yes, the ratio of people wearing wavy garms to red chinos is pretty solid.  I mean we have University of Oxford bucket hats don’t we?”

When asked about the Cam fashion scene, our anonymous Cam grad continued “Well I mean, there were people who didn’t really care for fashion. Clothes were just things to wear. And then there were the people who shopped at Topman or ASOS. So yeah.”


Talk to any Ox undergrad and they’ll tell you their Facebook feed is full of summer-time disposables, underground event invites and blog posts about how Berlin is sicker than London could ever be. While we triumph in a ranking The Times University Guide has not even observed yet, Cambridge remains as basic as basic can be.

This is why, and how, we have and will always be the cooler half.  Yeah, you may run into the odd jumped up 16-year-old wearing huararches and a shell jacket, skanking to Skepta at the back of the city5 bus. But he’s trying. Which is more than we can say for you, Tab friends.