When I decided to apply to Cambridge, I assumed that I would be sacrificing the experience of student nightlife that I associated with city universities in the rest of the UK. Looking back, it seems slightly pretentious that I thought I would be unique if I got the grades to get into Cambridge yet still preferred going to parties over staying in with a Mozart CD!
It turns out, the vast majority of people here enjoy a regular night out at least once or twice a week. The Cambridge town centre is small, so there are only around 4 or 5 clubs to choose from, but there are also some atmospheric bars, 2 big gig venues, and plenty of college parties to add a little variety from time to time.
Most of the student nights focus on cheap drinks and floor-filling, mainstream tunes. I think it’s hard to deny that you have a different night out here than I was used to at home. I’m used to going out in London, where entry price is high, nightbuses are long, taxis are expensive, but the music is forward-thinking. While I probably sacrifice the latter for 8 weeks in a term, I’ve grown to love the unique pleasures of a uni night out: I can usually find a friend selling discounted tickets, VKs are only £1.50, I’m guaranteed to know at least 20 people in the club, it only takes me 4 minutes to walk home, and – very importantly, though often under-appreciated – I always feel safe.
One of my close friends here studies law, but he also loves DJ-ing in his spare time. He grew frustrated by always hearing the same Rihanna songs on a night out and has started organising his own house/techno club nights twice a term at one of the local venues. To me, it represents one of the great things about Cambridge – it was very easy for him to meet like-minded, passionate and driven people who had an interest in something and were willing to put in the hard work to see it materialise.
His nights have proven a source of variety in my usual weekly clubbing routine. In first year, I got into a bit of a rut of always going to the same venues on the same days of the week and listening to the same songs. While I still think those nights are fun for what they are, I’ve also realised that when you look harder, there are plenty of interesting sights and sounds in Cambridge after-dark – dub, bass, hip-hop, house, jazz, and rock.
But if I’m feeling too lazy to look for something more adventurous – the Cambridge nightlife is a novelty for 8 weeks until I return to London’s epic sound-systems, venues, and prices(!) for the holidays!