A definitive ranking of Oxford clubs from least to most vibes

Ever heard of Thirst? Neither have we

People apply to Oxford for many different reasons, but the nightlife is certainly not one of them. Among the dreaming spires, gowned students and historic buildings is a meagre collection of clubs, so here they are, ranked for your convenience. Disclaimer: this is entirely systematic and does not mean you will not absolutely catch me at Plush next weekend regardless. See you there x

6. Thirst

Although not technically a club, we must give sixth position to Thirst, the only bar in Oxford that has managed to generate absolutely zero hype.

Atik’s cheese floor may be plucked straight from the pits of hell but at least people know what it is. It’s not all bad though, rumour has it they do great cocktails. 

5. Plush

In fifth place, we have Plush. I never thought I could feel sad whist listening to a Beyoncé song until I entered Plush. The winding, cavernous rooms give a dungeon vibe and whilst the novelty-named cocktails and shots promise a fun night out (“Blowjob” anyone?), this promise is quickly broken by the extortionate prices.

With the tinny music and cramped dance floor, Plush should be giving me free “Blowjobs” just to get through the night.

To many, the place is charming in its own unique way. Just prepare for the worst. 

4. TVC

Next on the list is The Varsity Club. Whilst the cute roof terrace suggests leisurely socialising, great views, Instagram pics and impeccable vibes, the sheer incongruence of the place undoes any possible charm or enjoyment.

Is it a cocktail bar? Is it a club? Is it a restaurant? If you are a philosophy student hoping to challenge your sense of place, take a trip to Varsity and experience the baffling randomness.

And then there’s the awkward vibes of the dance floor, which is reminiscent of the square plinths at a year six disco. Individual sofas are dotted around the dance floor, perfect for ogling and enforcing the law of self-awareness.

The prime, high street location is wasted on this club, although it does mean that you get the pick of every variety of cheesy chips on the journey back. 

3. Bridge

Bridge is next, and it’s a weird one. We’ve all had our expectations of a Bridge Thursday left unfulfilled when what we experience after a lifetime of queuing turns out to be a collection of Brookes lads, pointing between the strobe lights to the indeterminate tune of some random DJ.

Its only saving grace is the divine smoking area which, in comparison to the rest of the club, feels like walking into a miniature Garden of Eden, except with drunk toffs lighting up around the edges instead of all the animals.

The music is questionable, especially on the top floor where “techno” is represented by a DJ playing jarringly random beats with the odd line of Payphone by Maroon 5 sprinkled in. The loos here are iconic: tightly packed and always heaving.

Bridge has an intricate geography, and after a few drinks it is not hard to descend the wrong staircase and accidentally find yourself in that random bit of “VIP” bar space where Drake plays on loop all night long. 

2. Atik

It is with a humble apology to all the rugby lads who adore a mosh pit after a crew date that I place Atik next. As far as Oxford goes, it is the most nightclub-like nightclub, with several different dance floors.

But because of this, on most nights it is rammed so tightly that you are left queuing for entry, the bar and even the cloakroom, for ages.

Everyone goes at some point or another, which means that when you go to Atik, it is impossible not to run into that random you got with and never spoke to again until the moment you are reunited under the neon lights and smoke.

The cheese floor is always a good place for spotting innocent freshers who are in the throes of enjoying their first night on the town, and who, spinning under the influence of at least two whole WKDs, are belting out Neil Diamond with aggressive effort.

All in all, Atik is not dreadful, but it is favoured because of its lack of mainstream competition.

1. Our Winner – The Bullingdon

The Bullingdon is the last place you would expect to enjoy yourself and is miles away from the rest of town. However, this does not derail it from the position of Oxford’s least terrible club.

This is because the Bully is not like Atik or Bridge, which unashamedly assert their own vibes as valid clubs and therefore face the embarrassment of being the disappointments they are.

Instead, it is a kind of self-aware parody. Even its name is an ironic tribute to the disbanded Bullingdon Club, but the vibes at the Bully could not be further from formality or tradition.

The themed nights are actually quite fun, and although the dance floor is dismal and lacking in the technicolour gimmick that Atik offers, it does exactly what it says on the tin, whilst playing alright music.

The distance to the club ensures that you will not attempt the journey sober, and the trek home whilst mullered offers the opportunity to stop at every kebab van on the way back, and burn off the calories whilst doing so. 

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