The PearShaped Exeter Club Guide

by Lizzie Hatfield

As a fresher in Exeter, you simply have to accept that in this little Devonshire city there is only small selection of nightclubs to go to - it’s fair to say that there are some obvious favourites amongst the Exeter student population (and that definitely doesn’t include include EX4…). But fear not, nightlife here is not dead, despite what some may tell you - you just need to know the right places to go and when.

Monday

Dirty Sexy People at Arena
Don’t be fooled by the terrible, terrible name of this night – Dirty Sexy People is actually pretty good. Despite the faint smell of feet that greets you when you walk in the door (which you barely even notice once you’ve got a few drinks down you), I’ve never gone and had a bad night. The dance floor fills up pretty quickly after around 11pm, with resident DJ Will B playing commercial dance tracks and mash-ups that everyone will recognise.

Here at PearShaped we find the best way to execute a night at Arena is to book tickets in advance – even though its Exeter’s biggest nightclub it still gets full enough to turn people away at the door. Also, make sure you stop off at The Monkey Suit on the way there for a delightful array of cocktails and shooters. Cocktail fans will also be pleased to hear that Arena serve these 2 for 1 all night. Another good reason to have a pub stop on the way there is to avoid the awkwardly empty dance floor that will greet you before about 10.30pm.

Small tip – while waiting around outside or in the smoker’s area, don’t make eye contact with the crazy homeless man.

4Play at Mosaic
Mosaic on a Monday is generally filled with rejects who didn’t get into Arena – not to say that this is a bad night. Mosaic do know how to have a good time, particularly when it comes to cheap drinks deals. With 2 for 1 cocktails all night, £1 shots, and vodka mixer and Jagerbombs under £2, even a student budget can afford a fair few drinks at this club.

Similar to Arena in music, Mosaic on a Monday tends to play chart dance music and mainstream hits. As a general rule, the music gets better the higher up you go – excluding the middle floor which everyone tends to avoid unless they’re queuing to go upstairs.

My advice would be to go to Arena, but check out Mosaic once or twice. You never know – you might prefer a cheaper night out. Also, make sure you pop by The Golden Horn on your way back home for the finest chips and kebabs to suit the student palate.

Clique at Timepiece
Unfortunately I can’t give you a first-hand account of Clique Nights at Timepiece, mainly because they haven’t happened yet. A new event launching this academic year to try and compete with Mosaic and Arena, Timepiece are claiming that their Monday club night is to be ‘Exeter’s Most Reputable Student Night’. They claim they shall be bringing themed parties, the finest DJs, big drink deals and celebrity guests to our favourite nightclub.

Well, if the night is as good as it looks on paper then it should be a great success, particularly as it doesn’t have anything too mighty to compete with. The first four Mondays of the year seem to be popular already, with Clique hosting a beach party, UV/neon party, geek/nerd party, and a little visit from Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing (who seems to love Exeter and repeatedly comes to say hi).

1 Month Passes are available here for just £16.

Tuesday

Cheesey Tuesdays at Arena
The clear winner on Tuesdays amongst Exeter students, Cheesey Tuesdays unashamedly announces itself as everyone’s guilty pleasure and puts on a cracking night of catchy tunes that everyone is sure to know. Claiming to bring “a huge slice of cheese” to Exeter nightlife, Arena play memorable tracks from the 80s, 90s and 00s that make sure everyone is up dancing (or drinking as much as possible in order to get through it, depends on your taste really). In between their cheesey tracks they also throw in a few mainstream club anthems to keep the night current.

Quick heads up for those of you who may not already know – while Arena make it possible for you to buy tickets to all of their club nights online beforehand, Cheesey Tuesday online tickets are not valid past 11pm. This means that in order to ensure entry you might have to put up with a half empty nightclub for a little while, but the night picks up quickly so this isn’t too much of a hardship.

Beats & Bass and Thick as Thieves at Cellar Door
Described by the owners as “built from the ground up by a young team who genuinely want to see people having a good night without having to take out a mortgage”, a night out at Cellar Door isn’t too expensive, and drinks deals are abundant (particularly when it come to Jagerbombs). Tuesday night is a popular one at this venue – this year will see alternating appearances from the Beats & Bass Society, and Thick as Thieves.

Beats & Bass are a student-run University society that some of you may be familiar with due to their former nights at the Cavern Club in previous years. Now they’re set to host at Cellar Door fortnightly, a venue that we are sure will complement their signature sound as they present us with acts in genres spanning from house, techno, and disco, to hip hop, drum and bass, and dubstep. We’re pretty excited to see the great shows they’re sure to be putting on, with huge acts such as Magnetic Man’s Artwork having been announced for their launch event.

Thick as Thieves is another night not to be missed if you’re interested in Exeter’s underground club scene. Displaying an amazing array of DJs who create an atmosphere unlike any other night out in Exeter – ‘the Thieves’ claim to exist simply to bring the best in underground music and culture to the South West, previously bringing us headline acts including Duke Dumont, Kill Frenzy, and Kry Wolf.

Wednesday

Kink at Cavern Club
Another new club night in Exeter, this event will be hosted fortnightly. Kink advertise themselves as “a new night for lovers of music”, and similar to Cavern’s template on Saturday nights, will kick of the evening with live acts followed by a DJ set late into the night. Every fortnight they will bring a national band in to headline, supported by specially sourced local talent – after this DJs will delight us with a range of music including house, old school hip hop, and alternative 80s.

Considering our mission here at PearShaped is to make live music accessible to students, and highlight all of the talent that’s hidden out there in Exeter, we’re pretty excited that Kink seem to share the same ideals and are dedicating a whole night to it. We’re also excited to finally have an alternative to Wednesday Timepiece!

Make sure you check out what Kink are all about by taking a look at their website.

Legends at Timepiece
I have to admit, until I did the research for this article I had no idea this night was called Legends. Most people at the University simply refer to it as Sports Socials night, as this is when you’ll find every single sports club represented en masse and downing vodka mixers like there’s no tomorrow (which there usually isn’t because everyone just sleeps through their seminars).

Don’t worry if you’re not into sports – I myself failed to join one social yet I am a regular attendee of Timepiece Wednesdays. The socials simply ensure that the club is full and the energy is high. While the main room is filled with mainstream dance anthems, the balcony bar upstairs with DJ JSR plays classic urban grooves and is always jam-packed.

Run by students, and for students, the hosts of this event know exactly what their audience want – that is a large smoking area, the famous Timepiece burger stand, and vodka doubles for just £2.50.

Thursday

Electric Boutique at Arena
Resident DJs host this night, spinning an eclectic mix of tracks. Usually a little bit quieter than on their other big club nights, Arena still put on a good event. The main highlight are the drinks deals – Smirnoff and Sambuca available for just £1.70.

There’s a range of prices for this event, depending on how organised you are. If you’ve got a blue card then you can get the cheapest deal of £2 entry on the door before 11pm. If not, save money by booking online for £3.80 a ticket. Failing both of these, entry will cost you £5 which is a little pricey considering.

Play Harder at the Lemon Grove
This is a new one for The Lemmy – previously only successfully dominating Saturday nights, the Lemon Grove are branching out and trying to provide us with another alternative for Thursday. It seems to already have a lot going for it, if not only for the close proximity to student halls which enables all attendees to get absolutely mashed before they stumble back home. Also, as the biggest nightclub in Exeter you’re guaranteed to see a lot of people you know when you’re there.

Play Harder will be providing us with electronic dance music, the latest chart anthems, as well as throwback tunes from their resident DJ, Producer Freejak, in the main room. Alongside this in the bar room will be a delightful mix of funk, hip hop, trap, drum and bass, and house music – so something for everyone.

We think it will be well worth checking out, with events including an all-white UV rave, and Battle of the Halls taking place this term. Check out more about what’s to come here.

Dirty Beats at Mosaic
Mosaic describe Dirty Beats as “a night all about the music”, where DJs play the latest in electro, house, minimal, dubstep, and hip hop. Thursday at Mosaic is usually its most successful night of the week, and tends to have a loyal student following with an impressive queue greeting you at the door. Therefore, we recommend you heading there slightly early, getting your stamp, and then popping into The Chev across the road for a couple of drinks while you wait for the club to fill up.

Another advantage of Dirty Beats is the free shisha they give out on the roof terrace (but hurry as there is probably a limited supply). As previously stated, the higher the floor, generally the better the music. However, wherever you’re situated you’ll probably have a good night out here on a Thursday.

Wonkeylegs at Timepiece
Okay, I’m not putting this night on here in order to advertise. Rather this is a warning, based on previous experience, to not attend Timepiece Thursday. Generally not attended by students, Wonkeylegs seems to be more popular amongst the Exeter locals (usually ones aged 30-40) – surprising considering the night advertises itself as a drum and bass and dubstep event. On the Timepiece website they advertise Thursdays as “Plymouth’s 14th best DJ bringing you wonkey classics.” I think that says it all really.

Although entry is cheaper than on other nights at just £3, I still wouldn’t say this is a pro. Personally, I think the main advantage of the night is that you can still sit in the smoker’s area and indulge in a famous burger without having to pay the entry fee. Worth popping by if you want a snack, but if you want a decent night out then I’d go elsewhere.

Friday

Vibe at Arena
Otherwise referred to as Stir Fridays, Vibe at Arena is a huge hit with the international student population at Exeter. Advertising itself as a massive Friday night party, DJs bring catchy dance tracks to the floor, while the atmosphere is supposedly “unforgettable” according to the Arena website.

Although the night is a little bit pricey at £5 (the most expensive club night in this guide), drinks deals make up for it – 2 for 1 cocktails all night as well as £1.50 on selected spirits. Also if you have an Arena card you can get free entry, so if you decide this night is one of your favourites then its definitely worth investing in one of those, which you’re usually given if you join a society.

EXIT at Cellar Door
Despite only being open since September 2011, Cellar Door has already wormed its way into Exeter nightlife as a firm favourite, particularly for us guys at PearShaped. The venue itself is worth checking out, even if you’re not a fan of the music. Hidden underground beneath the cobbled streets of Exeter Quay, this gives Cellar Door the opportunity to blast its speakers up high and stay open late until 3am. Although the Quay is a little bit far away, we find its often worth making the journey by taxi. Its also worth popping in to The Prospect for a few drinks beforehand – although pricey its a nice pub in a lovely location.

Formerly hosted bi-weekly on Tuesday nights, EXIT has now re-branded and has landed itself a monthly spot at the Cellar Door on a Friday. As Exeter’s fastest growing house-night, big names alongside resident DJs bring us the best in house, electro and bass music. But let’s not be hasty and quickly group EXIT as another Cellar Door night that appeals to the same crowd as Thick as Thieves and Beats and Bass – EXIT doesn’t aim to make itself a niche brand and wants to be open to everyone who loves house music. They’re looking to create a fun, colourful and upbeat night over at Cellar Door – something we don’t see there very often. At PearShaped, we’re very excited to see how EXIT will have evolved since last year.

Collision and Bungalowed at Timepiece
Collision is the South West’s longest-running indie club night, and a fierce competitor for our favourite night of the week. Always packed every Friday night, our best advice is to get down to Timepiece fairly early (especially towards the end of the year when everyone realises how good it is) to make sure you get upstairs. The worst thing about this night is the infuriating queuing system if you get there too late – while you’re waiting you’re pushed next door into Hole In The Wall, and then on to the Timepiece lower bar before you actually get into the main dancefloor.

The night begins with in-house DJ, A Bigger Hammer, who plays a mixture of chart music and cheesey classics to warm up. Then the night steps up as DJ Tezza takes over later on, playing indie classics, rock tunes and big names such as The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Rage Against The Machine and Mumford and Sons.

The fun doesn’t stop when you head on upstairs either – hosted by 4Play Events the top top floor presents Bungalowed. Always incredibly busy, this floor of Timepiece plays R n B classics like Ignition and Crazy In Love which are always great crowd pleasers.

If you do this night properly, i.e. get there early, buy plenty of vodka doubles, and get a Timepiece burger (which have probably converted many a vegetarian), then you’ll love Timepiece Friday as much as we do here at PearShaped.

Saturday
Indie Night at Cavern Club
Exeter’s longest running music venue, hosting bands and club nights since 1991, the Cavern Club is a hot-spot for anyone with a passion for music. Not only is Indie Night my pick for Saturday, but it might even be my pick of the week. Often starting with a live band, the night is then filled with the hottest indie tunes from acts such as Foals, New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, The Maccabees, Hot Chip, White Lies and Two Door Cinema Club until the early hours.

A bonus of Cavern is that it seems to stay open later than other Exeter clubs, usually turning on lights between half 2 and 3. You can even secure yourself free entry if you get down to Cavern before 9pm (£4 after) – in addition the fact that this little night is a hidden gem amongst students means that queues rarely occur here, yet the size of the venue means it remains full.

If this still hasn’t convinced you, the atmosphere inside the Cavern is the best I’ve found in any venue in the city so far. Aptly named, the cavernous low ceilings, reasonably priced drinks, and quirky decor (including the odd pinball machine) creates a cosy and fun vibe that you won’t find anywhere else. Make sure you drop by one Saturday if you haven’t before!

Student Night at the Lemon Grove
Otherwise known as the only night anyone ever attends at the Lemmy, Saturday nights here remain a steadfast favourite among the student population. The biggest advantage the Lemmy has goes without saying – its campus location means that students can stumble here pretty easily to be met with cheap drink deals (VKs and Jagerbombs appear to be the hottest picks). I can’t say I’m a lover of the Lemmy myself, but my opinion in this case doesn’t seem to reflect the general consensus.

Students often need to get down to the Lemmy early in order to pick up a stamp otherwise they find themselves getting turned away – this venue is always rammed on a Saturday night. Playing an interestingly varied array of tunes, from Nirvana through to the Grease soundtrack, you could say that the Lemmy has something for everyone. You’re also guaranteed a lot of fun (if you drink that is). The Lemmy seems to be the one night of the week where everyone gets completely smashed, doesn’t remember a thing yet looks back on the entire evening as a good one, even if chunder, awkward hook-ups and embarrassing dancing may have occurred.

Sunday

The Day of Rest
Seeing as there are no decent club nights on a Sunday (as God intended), there is absolutely nothing whatsoever for you to do on this day. Here at PearShaped, we recommend you nursing your hangover, eating some fruit and veg, and getting ready for another week of clubbing. If however, you are fortunate enough to still be a functioning human being, why not check out ExTunes at the Old Firehouse for something to do? Even if you’ve got no money left – it’s free.


PearShaped’s Club Picks

  1. Arena
  2. Timepiece
  3. Mosaic
  4. Cavern Club
  5. Lemon Grove
  6. Cellar Door