There’s nowt like a proper decent night out clubbing, is there? I may fancy myself as a music critic but show me a man who can’t let his hair down and listen to three hours of Taylor Swift and I’ll show you a man without true purpose. But where exactly is the best place to shake it off? And what if you (somehow) aren’t that in to Taylor Swift, and you spend you evenings swooning over Alex Turner and sewing badges onto your denim jacket? Well luckily for you, despite it’s diminutive size Exeter has a fairly eclectic club scene, and we’re here to help you navigate it.
The club formerly known as Arena has been given a bit of a face-lift during the off-season. Those of you returning may be disappointed to hear the infamous carpets have been torn out, though I can neither confirm nor deny whether the smell has improved. This right here is your bread and butter – expect to hear chart music and remixed variations thereof. Whilst the rebranding inevitably means a bit of a shuffle round in terms of nights and their names, you can usually guarantee Monday through Friday Unit 1 isn’t going to be dead although typically Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday are the biggest nights. Crucially, and in my case joyously, it has been confirmed that Cheesy Tuesdays will retain pride of place as the one and only true option for those on the hunt for some Spice Girls. New nights being introduced include Project Friday, Saturday Night, and Project X Sunday. Tickets are available online for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and in the case of the first two are certainly advised. Otherwise on those days brace yourself for an early start or a big queue. Conventionally, Saturday night sees Unit 1 heavily populated with non-students, in case that’s something you were hoping to avoid, but most nights are often billed as student-only.
Timepiece (TP) has been knocking around for ages. It bills itself as Exeter’s half-decent nightclub, and consists of a bar area and burger van downstairs, then two floors of club above. TP Burgers are a notorious staple and definitely worth a drunken purchase if the mood takes you. If you’re worried about queues and were looking to head there a bit early, the downstairs bar at TP is rather expensive, but head up the metal steps directly opposite to Oldtimers and you can get yourself one of the cheaper pints in Exeter, as well as being a step away from the queue when it all goes down. The standard student nights here are Wednesdays, when Timepiece is the one stop shop for AU Clubs out on the lash, and Fridays. Music-wise you’ve got a couple of choices, the first floor, which has the larger dance floor, is a general crowd-pleaser chart stuff with the occasional bit of nostalgic stuff thrown in for good measure (we’re talking Mr Brightside, Mumford & Sons etc.). But if the idea of that makes you yawn and cringe in equal measure, then head on upstairs (known colloquially as top-top) where there’s usually a DJ chucking out some hip-hop, house, grime, and the occasional rogue remix. It’s a bit cramped – brace yourself for snap-backs and low ceilings – but it’s got a pretty awesome vibe when it gets going.
Down the bottom end of town, I’ve always seen Mosaic (Mozzers) as one of Exeter’s more enigmatic clubs. To some it’s an un-missable fixture in the weekly schedule, whilst others can go their whole degree without ever stepping foot inside. Made up of a downstairs bar, club upstairs, and a heated roof-terrace, it’s fairly handily situated in close proximity to EX4 and Walkabout if you’re after somewhere for a cheap drink. Undoubtedly the biggest downside to Mosaic is the dreaded double-queue, with both entry to the building and the club upstairs requiring a bit of a wait. Monday and Thursday are the two student-only nights Mosaic put on, with Monday offering up the more conventional chart-stuff, and some more house, dubstep and hip-hop being played on the Thursday.
The Lemon Grove
The Lemon Grove (Lemmy) is your on-campus Guild nightclub, and probably your safest bet for a big silly Saturday night. If you’re a fresher, you’re guaranteed to be amongst your own kind, as few veteran students brave The Lemmy after their first year. The locale means you’re unlikely to ever have an easier walk home from a nightclub than this, whilst the newly built Grove Diner next door now stays open until after The Lemmy kicks out, and provides a great option for some “fries”, a burger, or even just a bit of shelter from the inevitable Exeter shower.
If you’ve been perusing this list with slack-jawed despair at all the chart, house, and cheese nights Exeter has to offer then Cavern may just be the place for you. As the name suggests, Cavern is an underground bar, club and arguably the foremost venue for emerging bands in the city. Cavern also serves up a nice alternative to The Lemmy’s more conventional Saturday night clubbing experience. “Indie Club”, as the weekly Saturday night event is titled, does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. You’re guaranteed to hear Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, The Cure, The Strokes, as well as some newer stuff. Due to its location, Cavern Saturdays usually experience a healthy mix of local and student populations, and whilst it’s not always absolutely rammed, it’s a great one to head along to if you can get a bunch of mates together. Aside from Saturday nights, Cavern also hosts Magic Hatstand every other Friday – a unique night that offers you the chance to dance to deep funky house in a variety of vibrant and elaborate hats, which populate a hat stand at the heart of the venue. It may sound somewhat daunting to some of you, but it’s definitely to try at least once.