Cambridge Nightclubs: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly Student Life

Cambridge might be famous for its stunning architecture, brainy students and notable alumni, but a renowned party-town it ain’t. The stomping ground of such party animals as Lord Byron, Stephen Fry and… um… Michael Winner, the city of Cambridge only has a sprinkling of clubs. Although luckily, just enough to fill our top five guide…

1. “Cindies” (the sign above the door says Ballare, but Cindies it was, and Cindies it will forever remain)

What’s the scene?

Equally beloved and reviled, it’s pretty hard to avoid at least one night out in Cindies during your time at Cambridge. It’s filled every weekday by both those who make it a weekly institution and others wondering why the hell they came in the first place. It’s like junk food, you know it’s bad but you can’t help going back for more.

Expect sticky floors and plenty of dancing in a (slightly awkward) circle. Inevitably, you’ll end the night tucked into someone’s sweaty armpit, swaying and belting out ‘Can’t Stop me Now’ and ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’, only to leave promptly at 1pm; there are lectures to attend in the morning after all.

Who goes there?

Expect girls wandering around in ‘Blues’ lacrosse or netball outfits and guys showing off their ‘Blues’ blazers. It’s the final destination of formal swaps, so there’ll be plenty of unbuttoned shirts, slightly dishevelled dresses and discarded gowns. Indie scenesters wouldn’t be seen dead in Cindies, it’s the hallowed ground of many a drinking society.

Cheesiness rating: 5= Ripe camembert

2. Fez

What’s the scene?

Although it’s meant to be Moroccan-themed, the theme doesn’t extend beyond the sandy coloured walls and dubiously placed fake plants. Don’t be outraged to find none of its eponymous red headgear in sight. Generally regarded as cooler than Cindies (mind you everything is cooler than Cindies), Fez churns out R’n’B, hip hop, electronica and the odd dubstep and garage nights.

It swings wildly between acceptable music and the odd cheese fest. It gets very, very sweaty. The walls sweat, the drinks sweat, you sweat. Bring blotting paper or expect to do some serious untagging on Facebook the next day.

Who goes there?

Those tired of Cindies and who don’t mind the chance encounter with the ‘locals’. Anyone liking their music in beat form. Dress is typical club wear (cue Cambridge students pretending to be a bit ‘ghetto’).

Cheesiness Rating: 3= Dairylea Triangles

3. Cambar

The “alternative” nightclub, Cambar is frequented by hipsters, indie types and those who like a bit more of a riff in their music. It has a diehard fanbase, a cheap happy hour, and plays decent music if you like your rock tunes. Expect plenty of ‘ironic’ dancing, tight jeans and beer. The décor is either dirty and mangy or cool and distressed, depending on your point of view. From some angles, it looks disturbingly like a haunted house.

Who goes there?

The “cool” kids who haunt Mill Road, dream of living in Shoreditch and play ukuleles. Drinking societies wouldn’t be seen dead there.

Cheesiness Rating: 2= Cream Cheese

4. Club 22/Life/The Place

What’s the scene?

It’s had more reinventions than Madonna, and still can’t shake off the image of a lesser version of Cindies. Dubious names and even more dubious music doesn’t help. That being said, its Thursday nights are becoming increasingly popular with students and it has had some good nights in the past, particularly the “infamous” LGBT nights.

Who goes there?

LGBT community and overflow from Cindies.

Cheesiness Rating: 4= Mature Cheddar

5. The Junction

What’s the scene?

The Junction is considered so “far out” (i.e. beyond the one square mile of the town centre) that few Cambridge students venture to it. It’s also frequented by (mouth it) “locals”. Prejudices aside, it is Cambridge’s best venue for live music, with acts such as Mr. Scruff, DJ Yoda, Noah and the Whale and Scroobius Pip playing there in the past, as well as other cultural events such as theatre and dance.

It also holds burlesque, drum and bass and rap/hip hop nights. Entrance fees can be expensive, but it’s worth it for something a little bit different from the normal fare.

Who goes there?

Students and non-students alike. Best not to rock up suited and booted in a Cambridge gown and tie.

Cheesiness Rating: 1= Dairy-free

Notable mention:

Lola Lo, “a tropical oasis where the party goes on and on,” is the latest addition to Cambridge’s clubbing scene. It’s Cambridge’s only beach-themed club and they’ve gone overboard on the décor, making it the perfect place for those who like a bit of kitschy, fromage-infused fun.

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