Fundee or Scumdee: stay on this side of the Tay?

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Illustration: Dillon Yeh
Illustration: Dillon Yeh
Illustration: Dillon Yeh

Fundee or Scumdee? That might sound like a controversial question to those of us on this side of the Tay. As St Andrews students, there seems to be a general consensus that anything that disses Dundee, deeming it unworthy of our university’s rivalry, is seen as entertainment (with The Other Guys’ Dundee rewrite of Are You from Dixie as a prime example.) Though a little fun and games in regards to university rivalry is not necessarily a bad thing, I often feel like we go a little bit too far in judging our neighbouring city. Sure, most of the guys at Dundee Uni (and Abertay) don’t go around in colourful chinos handing out fliers for a ‘historical’ procession, but really, would that be considered a loss on their part?

Until this year, I had never had the opportunity to say I experienced a night out in Dundee. With DRA’s organised trip to Liquid Envy as my only prior taste of the city, a club which, besides the pleasure of £1 drinks, could be described as a bigger version of the Lizard, I was rather content with staying on this side of the bridge, and enjoying my cyclical weeks of Union events and balls. That is, until I actually had the pleasure to meet someone from Dundee.

After a year of being friends and observing people’s dismissal upon revealing her hometown to other students, two weeks ago, we both decided it was about time I took a leap of faith and ventured with her on a night out in the city.

For me, one of the things I love most about going out in St Andrews is the fact that I know I can always hop around between different friend groups, with the guaranteed assurance of bumping into someone I know. Though many might find this experience suffocating, I find it an essential part of my entertainment when I’m out. With this in mind, I was quite apprehensive of how a night out in a unknown city with only one person I knew would unravel.

My experience began with taking the bus to Dundee (no, I had never done it before…) for only £3.20 and knowing I had a place to stay on the other side, I began my night on a positive note.

After meeting my friend at her house, we decided to walk to one of her favourite pubs – a fantastically quaint place with walls lined with books and candle-lit tables warmly glowing amongst glasses and unknown faces. Living up to its name, the George Orwell’s feel was unique, offering a refreshing alternative to anything you’d find in St Andrews.

Next was the Art Bar – a busier pub where I felt all of the artists in Dundee had collectively reunited to offer a genuine hipster vibe, complete with alternative music, red paint splattered walls and cheap drinks. Though I’m sure Dundee is big enough that any experience would be different, I felt I’d been graced with the artsy-crowd’s routine of a night out – and I couldn’t complain.

So far the night had proved to be entirely different from all of my Dundee stereotype-based misconceptions. I had been introduced to the eclectic side I didn’t know Dundee had.

Though I can’t say I didn’t notice certain things St Andrean’s might consider ‘sketchy’ whilst wandering through the streets and pubs of Dundee, these observations were a far cry from what would entitle us St Andreans to brand the city its title of Scumdee.

We didn’t take a bout into the Dundee Uni student union. Though it boasts an impressive number of floors, bars and has won the prize as best students’ association in the country, my friend’s group felt I needed to experience ‘their’ Dundee, and not the Dundee St Andrews students would expect – and I was glad.

Instead of spending the night amongst another herd of drunken university students, I was taken to yet another darkly enigmatic place – the Reading Rooms. Though the entrance fee was a little bit higher than expected due to our rather late 1:30 am arrival, as I entered the outdoor courtyard to the venue, its blue lights and circular set-up transported me into a kind of twilight-zone; an atmosphere which was also carried into the club itself.

With beats vibrating through the floor of the club straight through to my heart, a quick and reasonably priced bar, and a dancefloor that was not lacking in people (eh hem 601), there didn’t seem to be anything bad to say about the place, and though I couldn’t bounce around from friend to friend like I usually do in St Andrews, I felt that in a place like that, bouncing around searching for people you knew wouldn’t even be necessary. Great music, lights and an overall entrancing atmosphere, staged in a perfectly-crowded venue was enough to leave me carefree and dancing until the night’s final beat.

So to everyone who indulges in Dundee Yik Yak slams and would never imagine crossing the bridge, giving Dundee a chance might actually come to surprise you in a way that will leave you wanting more, with its unique experience providing a great escape from the Bubble.

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