The “Thirsty” team still lively at 2amHannah Gillott for Varsity

We had not experienced FOMO like it.

The first Rumboogie after exams – not that Hannah had finished yet – and we weren’t there. Well, we were there. Just not inside Rev’s sweat pumping, hip thrusting sauna rooms, but rather loitering sheepishly outside, offering those leaving a sandwich and a cup of water to the faint echo of Kesha’s ‘Timber’.

“Dedication is a word that certainly comes to mind. Mission perhaps another”

This was certainly not our idea of a ‘fun’ night out. But then again, Revs rarely is that much ‘fun’. Too many pointy elbows, expensive drinks (a VK for £5.60 is truly strobe-light robbery) and walking, living reminders of failed Tinder matches. Though we were now running into them outside, sober and in a terribly unsexy amount of clothing, which arguably is far worse. “Nutella or jam” is neither of our go-to pick up lines.

For the five Christian Union volunteers who kindly let us join them for the night this was a well-oiled routine. Meet at 10:45 with provisions, leave for Revs at midnight, wrap it up at 2:00. And do it all again next week. Dedication is a word that certainly comes to mind. Mission perhaps another. Waiting outside Revs in June – let alone winter – is far more tiring than any of our dance moves could be, especially when you only have approximately ¼ square feet with which to work.

It also requires far more preparation. After all, the sandwiches don’t make themselves. Choosing an outfit to later stain with the gravy from your Van of Life chips is relatively easier. Hovering over a comically small table in one of the volunteer’s impeccably tidy room, the small team began to unpack their bags after a quick trip to Sainsbury’s, neatly stacking the loaves of bread next to the spreads. Something about tonight was different. Aside from our voices noticeably absent during prayer, eyes flitting between each other and the ceiling, the usual Sainsbury’s own brand had been displaced by a glistening pot of Cadbury’s finest chocolate spread. No doubt an act of agape in its highest form.

“Those leaving the club were incredibly appreciative, regardless of their relationship to Christianity”

The “Thirsty” crew are very open about the religious nature of their enterprise. On their rather dashing t-shirts rests the quote from the Book of John from which they derive the purpose of their mission – ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another’. The volunteers assure us that their primary intention is showing love, assuring those who in their drunken stupor find themselves feeling low on the curb outside Revs, that there will always be someone to pick them off the floor. The reason behind their great act of kindness is of interest, and it was noticeable that after the night, the team were encouraged to pray not for club goers’ wellbeing but rather the “conversations they had”. Yet those leaving the club were incredibly appreciative, regardless of their relationship to Christianity – as many did point out. The nuances of the night may have at times felt a little uncomfortable, but we were left in no doubt that these were genuinely some of the kindest souls we had ever met, doing incredible work out of the goodness of their hearts.

Inevitably, a few Revs attendees were keen to express their qualms with religion, though these discussions were notably productive in nature. In fact, the volunteers encourage such conversations. One volunteer entertained a conversation with a club goer for the better half of an hour, though his parting phrase was memorably “love what you’re doing but I will never agree with you”. So perhaps not a win for evangelism.


Mountain View

Green How I got into Cambridge without an interview

Another drunken student, noticeably wearing his jumper inside out, seemed as fixated with religious debate as we were with the fact that his label was surely itching the sunken space between his collarbones. More responsive to our pleas to turn his jumper back around than the Christian doctrine, the mathmo’s staunch atheism seemed insurmountable. Yet perhaps, munching his fourth jam sandwich as he cycled home, he would at least consider that religious people were a far cry from the Richard Dawkins-esque rhetoric he had been espousing.

Our lower backs weary and the soles of our feet sore, we left promptly at 2am. In this sense, the experience had met our expectations: exhaustion a foreseeable consequence to a night out with the Christian Union. But in many more ways, there was much we had not anticipated: the sheer appreciation, the kind words, the selflessness. As the volunteers checked on their group chat that they had all made it home safely, it was clear that these volunteers – in rain, hail or heat waves – were attempting to replicate the affection they believe God shows them. And, crucially, the love they have for each other. They were just doing it on the curb of a mediocre bar chain at 2am.