Lola Lower your standards: a fresher review of Cambridge nightlife

Violet columnist Lily Ford gives a fresher’s take on Cambridge nightlife

Lily Ford

Before we get into things, let’s lay some ground rules. I’m from Winchester – the only nightlife available to me starts in 1) indie yet oddly posh pubs that charge £7.80 for a double vodka cranberry and 2) the frightening streets of Southampton (was going to add a ‘big ups Oceana’ but genuinely couldn’t type those words with a straight face) where I was once cat-called by a man outside of a park in which someone had just been found murdered a few days prior. I have been out in Brighton and Oxford, but these are my only frames of reference. Therefore, the first rule is that you must bear my lukewarm club experiences in mind. The second rule is to establish the obvious subjectivity that comes with my following thoughts. Some enjoy a drink, others eight drinks. Some prefer a wild Bruno Mars-infused dance-off to the madness of drum and bass. It’s all valid. This is just one drunken gal’s opinion.

“Some enjoy a drink, others eight drinks. Some prefer a wild Bruno Mars-infused dance-off to the madness of drum and bass. It’s all valid”

Admittedly, nightlife was a really crucial factor in choosing possible universities. Cambridge always seemed like the unlikely one – so I dismissed it with a “oh well, won’t be going there anyway.” Then I got in and thought oh Christ, I’m going to spend the next three years in that tiny city full of bicycles and scary old men. What would the drinking scene entail? The research begun.

The Student Room offered an underwhelming answer of yeah, sorry to break it to you pal, but it’s pretty dead. It took approximately 12 minutes googling ‘Cindies Cambridge’ before realising it’s actually called Ballare, and another 4 minutes to try and figure out why students called it Cindies. I felt a little disappointed, and even took a moment to think how much better the nightlife might be in... the other place (pls don’t stop reading) but I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t paying £9k a year to have a cheesy chip fight with my mates at 2:30 in the morning.

Looking back on Michaelmas term makes me feel a little queasy. I was going out 4 nights a week – sometimes even 5. Thursday Lola’s, Friday Life, Bops, Turf, Sunday FEZ (?!): FOMO had well and truly taken me hostage. I could practically hear my liver weeping, and my bank account heaving sighs in between the breaths taken by my liver so it could carry on weeping. You think I’ve saved a lot of money this term considering I’m only out once a week? Haha! Think again. I have taken all of that Jägerbomb money and spent it on paninis and coffee instead. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to budget!

A friend and I once walked all the way into town and upon looking at the queue for Life, bought cheesy chips and walked all the way back. I have spent £18 on one order of shots in Lola’s. Okay – you get the point, I was a little bit of a mess. Stupidity aside, I have definitely drank my way around a fair share of bars and pubs in Cambridge. The honest truth? I kind of love it.

It’s as though everyone is aware of an unspoken solidarity to fellow clubbers that yes, we know it’s not great but that’s why it’s better to just embrace it and have as good a night as possible. Buy your friend that drink, dance with that cute guy. As long as everyone is safe and having a good time, relinquish your full energy to it. There have definitely been some half-hearted nights that I wasn’t feeling – and that’s completely fine, because I’ve learnt to say no to a night out when I need to this term. Even so, to those that do enjoy clubbing or consider it a method of stress-relief: find an event that suits you! I really do think that Cambridge can accommodate for a varied music taste, beyond the four main clubs which we love so much to hate. Most importantly, cherish the company you’re with, because that’s what makes a successful and fun night out at the end of the day – or should I say, the start of the morning.


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I’m certainly not advising anyone to make the decisions I have – just drop your expectations. Allow yourself to get excited about the small things. Propaganda’s throwing a Louis Theroux appreciation night at Fez? The man’s a saint. Oh, and at the risk of weirdly sounding like I’ve been paid to advertise this – if you don’t do anything else, for God’s sake: buy the Loyal app. Do not spend £18 on shots like this fool.