Life Divided: Bridge or Park End?

Hack turned club connoisseur, Maxim Parr-Reid and club connoisseur turned hack, Mo Iman, battle it out to determine which is better – Park End or Bridge?

The cheese floor at Atik

Bridge: Maxim Parr-Reid

Bridge is a club that combines all the key ingredients of a good club night: booze, good music, smoke, and the ability to meet everyone you’ve ever come into contact with at Oxford. Unlike, Park End (or is it Atik?), where the multitude of bars makes it difficult to choose where to buy a drink, Bridge is the best night out because of its simplicity – it is what you expect a good club night to be.

Most particularly, Bridge’s famed smoking area – or the “cigarette senate”, to use Elbow’s phrase – is part of what makes a night out at Bridge so worthwhile. Forget the passive smoke for a minute, and allow yourself to revel in the fact that you are surrounded by friends. Lying before you in the smoking area is an opportunity to catch up on the latest gossip and, for those of you who are that way inclined, an opportunity to hack.

The appeal of Bridge extends far beyond the smoking area though; Bridge is my preferred place to be, because unlike other clubs (naming no names – Park End) there is a welcome absence of ‘stash’. I much prefer not to be barged past by droves of stash-wearers, fresh from their crewdate at Arzoo’s, as I attempt to go about my night. And talking of ridiculous outfits, thankfully at Bridge there are no crazy yellow ducks that you might have the misfortune of meeting on your trip to the toilet.

It is at around 12:30 that things at Bridge really improve. This is also typically when people from the big colleges like Christ Church rock up – and boy, is it worth the wait. What tends to happen with other clubs (for me at least), in the words of The Smiths, “you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home and cry”. But this is never the case at Bridge – you are never alone.

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Personally, the blend of alcohol and the cheese floor at Bridge makes for a heady combination, and is the key formula for a great night.  Blending vodka with ‘Mr Brightside’ always seems to do the trick and every Bridge Thursday I’ve been to has vindicated this combination. Booze and the cheese floor can make an overplayed track sound like the best track you’ve ever heard.

I didn’t drink until Hilary of my first year and, ever since, Bridge Thursdays been the catalyst for a radical change of gear in my life. Bridge Thursdays has, in my 2nd year at least, enabled an extraordinary emergence of my more outgoing side, seldom seen in 1st year. I can’t imagine any other club enabling me to flower and flourish in this way.

Park End: Mo Iman

Let’s start at the beginning of the night. You’re at pre-drinks. If this was a Thursday, you’d be half distracted, anxiously looking at the clock, so as not to miss that all-important Anuba queue jump before 11pm.

This is a Wednesday however. You can afford to turn up fashionably late and get inside at a far more respectable midnight. While there is still a queue, you’re assured to be inside within a mere twenty minutes (providing it isn’t 8th Week – the wounds of which are still fresh). There’s no having to hunt down tickets days in advance, and entry also offers the all-important luxury of being able to pay by card on the door.

Once inside, the three different DJ booths are pumping out cheese, RnB and charts, making Park End one of the few Oxford clubs where if you’re bored, or you just fancy a change of scene, you can move to another room. I stress the word ‘room’, not corridor. Unlike Bridge, Park End does not resemble two superimposed railway carriages. This means there’s plenty of space to lose both your friends, the remaining dignity you arrived with, but most importantly there’s space to actually move, unlike the battery farm that is Bridge.

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Lucidity hits – you’re sobering up and you realise you need another drink. This can be the downfall of many a night out. Not at Park End. You need to go to the bar? Pick one. You’ve been refused service? Oh no, there’s only four more to choose from – none of which resemble a struggling gentlemen’s club (*cough* Anuba).

Consider some of the things that Maxim has most likely forgotten to mention about Bridge. Nothing brings more fire and fury than that those dreadful few words “sorry, it’s a £10 minimum on card”.  This will inevitably result in you getting three double vodka lemonades, just to make the threshold. It’s a good thing you lined your stomach though – with a bottle of wine from the crewdate that you came from.

When you’ve decided you’ve had enough of dancing on the 16:05 to London Paddington, you head outside to that famous smoking area. Here you face your next obstacle: the Hack. Hacks are by no means bad people, they’re simply the damp rag used to put out a lit night. The smoking area is their stomping ground. The good manners instilled in you from birth stop you from walking away once you get roped into a conversation. When you do make your excuses, you promise to vote for their slate in that upcoming election they mentioned – you won’t.

So to conclude, Park End offers a bigger and better range of rooms and accompanying music. Combine this with the less archaic payment methods, and the fact the queue doesn’t resemble one outside the Apple Store on the day of a new iPhone launch. It’s an easy choice to make.