In the second edition of This Student Life, Paige Marchment writes on student nightlife in Winchester. The editor responds below.
WINCHESTER STUDENT NIGHTLIFE
Winchester. A great historical city hosting a round table, a grand cathedral, and of course, the six thousand eager university students, spilling down the hill on every Tuesday and Friday. Yes, we spill. Yes, we make noise. Yes, we get drunk. It seems like a taboo subject in Winchester. How dare these young ruffians form on the streets, filing from public house to public house, spewing nonsense and fluids across our perfectly pristine streets? Silent students, happy homes, right? Not quite. The fact is, we cannot and will not be silent when going on a night out. I understand trying to be considerate for others, especially on a weeknight, but when SSHH is hammered home night after night, Bop after Bop, Flirt after Flirt, it doesn’t make me want to hush. It makes me want to scream. ‘If you don’t want to be disturbed by students, don’t live next to a university,’ says a fellow student. Trying to silence a drunken person is like trying to get into the SU without a student card. It’s just not going to happen.
Last year we had it all – well, it was good for Winchester. A web consisting of Bar3One, Porthouse, Plain & Fancy, the SU, Slug & Lettuce, Pitcher & Piano and the countless other pubs and bars throughout Winchester to have a tipple and stagger out of in the early morning of the hours would call our name and tempt us in with fairly cheap drink deals and nauseatingly upbeat dance music. However, Winchester nightlife has seemingly been flushed down the hill with the closure of Porthouse and Plain & Fancy. Navigating Winchester on a Tuesday night, heels high, dress low, hair down, drink intake up, there should be a choice – there should be variety. No one wants to walk half a mile from one club/bar to the other, and after two of the most popular bars closed, the spider web was broken, increasing the distance from club to club. Bar3One or the SU – these are the only two legitimate choices for a student now in Winchester – and that’s only for Wednesdays and Fridays. The rest of the time it’s Bone, Bone, Bone or home, home, home.
I spent a great deal of my time at university either drinking or drunk, and never really came up against any of these problems.
With regards to the Shhh campaign… there’s noise, and then there’s noise. No-one really expects students to be quiet— but be reasonable. Laugh and joke all the way home, that’s fine, and most people have double-glazing now. Shhh is more about singing popular music hits at 3am (2.59am is fine). Or the silly, stupid, and very loud arguements that tend to occur when immature, irresponsible nineteen year olds with no sense of self-control drink an immature and irresponsible amount of alcohol. For most students this isn’t really a problem— once you’re that drunk the chances are you’re not walking home anyway.
Your fellow student who asserts that people who don’t want to be disturbed by students shouldn’t live by a university would do well do look up both the definition of ’empathy’, and the history of the University of Winchester. We only became a university in 2005, and the current SU building wasn’t completed until 2007. The university expanded into the surrounding area, very few people chose to live within close proximity to a thriving student union.
It is possible to have fun without acting totally without regard for consequences— and students should have fun. I had a lot of fun, by which I mean I got drunk and with alarming regularity. What I would really advise students to do is drink solidly over a few months so as to build up a tolerance to alcohol— and then you’ll be able to drink loads and still be able to walk home!*
Bar3One is the worst place in the world. What’s wrong with a few pints in a quiet pub? They had a 70s night once that consisted of ONE Jackson 5 song. That was it.
I would argue that clubs can’t be that popular if they’re closing. Winchester is a very small university and, perhaps surprisingly, there was a time when university was focused more towards earning a degree and less about destroying your financial future and liver. Coupled with the fact that Winchester is an old, old town that is a very new university town and you get a nightlife not really geared to the student market. And we are a very small university, so it is hard for the town to sustain multiple clubs.
The pub is underrated. You can have a lot of fun in a pub— particular larger ones that have bands. It’s a lot like a club, but less unpleasant. There are also a lot more of them. I would strongly advocate a return to the age old art form of the pub crawl. There is no more choice and variety than a wide array of pubs. Other benefits: you don’t have to pay to get in, it isn’t a waste of money to leave, and the drinks are cheaper. If you plan a crawl properly you can finish at the pub closest to home and avoid a lot of the hassle of the Shhh campaign.
Yes, pubs close a bit earlier, but instead of ‘pre-gaming’, why not post-game instead. Night out and house party all in one go. Admittedly yes, this does mean missing a good kebab on the way home, but just-eat.co.uk was invented for exactly this reason…
But to end on a serious-ish note, Winchester has a reasonable nightlife for a town and university of it’s size. If there were more clubs there would be more competition, nobody would be turning any profits and they would all have to close.
*This is actually terrible advice.