Refreshers’: successful without Venue 1

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Illustration: Alexandra Zagaynova

As week two comes to an end, we are left to resume our studies and hunker down for the mountains of coursework coming up for this term. Despite the gloom and winds of Scottish January weather, the first week of the Candlemas semester went off without a hitch with Refreshers’ events filling the social calendar of week one.

Illustration: Alexandra Zagaynova
Illustration: Alexandra Zagaynova

Speaking with Director of Events Leon O’Rourke before Refreshers began, The Saint was promised a toned down slew of parties and events in comparison to those during the first weeks of September. As expected, this year’s Refreshers’ was marked by some serious differences. To begin with, the Union was under yet another of the unending renovations to Venue 1. Given the loss of the space, O’Rourke said, “our capacity to put on big scale events has dwindled but we’re hoping that a schedule of lively bar entertainment will give people a good night out over this week and a suitable welcome back.”

Given the loss of the iconic venue used for many Freshers’ and Refreshers’ events of years past, O’Rourke still managed to host a full week of entertainment that helped ease students back into the swing of the semester and resocialise after six weeks off. Another change in this years Refreshers’ was a revised ticketing structure. With the loss of Venue 1, ticketing began at 11pm to enter the Main Bar, with free entry allowed to the Beacon Bar. Whilst in the past the Main Bar and Sandy’s were entrance free, this year, the Union adapted it’s Refreshers’ schedule so that events took place in these venues exclusively. Despite this change in access, many seemed undeterred and paid the £2 fee willingly, as evidenced by the packed bar area almost every evening of the week.

The week began solidly with a ‘Welcome Back to the Bubble’ event. The Main Bar was in in full operation with a small but packed dance floor and fun music playing throughout the night. That same evening, the Union played host to a packed Junior Semester Abroad (JSA) Wine Reception, organised by the Student Representative Council (SRC). Following Sunday night’s Burns Night celebration, the Union hosted a second evening in commemoration of Scottish writer John Burns in Sandy’s Bar with a whisky sampling, Scottish treats, Scots poetry and traditional music.

On Tuesday, Bubble Bath kicked off the new year in style, with a packed audience and fantastic one liners that has been hailed by O’Rourke as “a new gold standard in student comedy.” Wednesday night’s Sinners was all that was expected: cheap drinks, short kits and sweaty athletes dancing the night away.

Of all the events hosted throughout the week, I was most impressed with the crowd that filled the Union on Friday evening. Without a notable marquee or event differentiating the Main Bar from any other pub in town, the Union remained packed. With the traditional Karaoke night occurring in Sandy’s Bar, freshers and older students alike filled both Beacon Bar and Main Bar, drifting on and off the dance floor fluidly to freshen up their drinks.

While Refreshers’ was clearly not of the same calibre that occurs in September, the Union still got the gist of the week right. One David Russell resident commented “I actually preferred the new set up, as the closure of Venue 1 forced those in attendance to congregate in the Main Bar area and resulted in a pleasantly packed crowd.” Over the course of the week, students of all years filtered in and out of the Union, with groups settling in for a casual pint in Beacon Bar to sports teams tearing up the Main dance floor. Hats off to you, Mr. O’Rourke, and here’s to more fantastic evenings in the Union for the semester to come.

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