Night Out: May Day Reviews

"May Day is the busiest student night out of the year, so who wouldn’t want to spend it in a club that was once voted the third worst in Britain?"

Not Nineteen Forever: Fever
Emma Ball

May Day is the busiest student night out of the year, so who wouldn’t want to spend it in a club that was once voted the third worst in Britain? Yet with an alarming number of disco balls and walls of the finest velvet, Fever’s poor reputation is, without a doubt, undeserved. It is therefore no surprise that the Encore event ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ was fully booked out. With most Fever-goers painfully aware of how quiet it can be until late, it was an undeniable relief when the club became uncharacteristically busy by 11pm.

Classed as an ‘indie night’, party-goers were treated to the usual anthems by the Fratellis and Foals, as well as the odd appearance from Oasis. However, it would not be Fever unless they played some of the mainstream cheesy sing-alongs that we all secretly love; the Pretenders’ ‘500 miles’ being a particular highlight. Essentially, there was slightly more ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and slightly less ‘Shape of You’ than you would find on a normal night.

The event itself was largely centred around the concept that Scouting for Girls would make an appearance, although from the marketing campaign all involved seemed to be unsure as to what form this would take. The answer, as we found out on the night, was the appearance of the drummer behind the DJ booth for a small portion of the evening. This misrepresentation of the event was obviously a source of frustration, with many having expected the whole band to be there and maybe even a live performance.

Whilst undoubtedly enjoyable, once the inevitable ‘She’s so lovely’ had been played, you would easily be forgiven for forgetting what the theme of the night was supposed to be.

May Day ft. Richard Blackwood: Park End
Juliet Martin

We opted for Park End for May Day to avoid having to be organised enough to buy tickets in advance, and also in mind of its significant added benefit of easy access to seats for when 6am started to feel far off. We were planning on staying out all night, and Park End seemed like somewhere we might manage it.

A major pro was that there was no queue to get in when we arrived at about 2am. It was pretty busy inside but not packed, and there was enough variety between the different rooms to keep us going for a good few hours. I can’t comment on the state of Park End at closing time, but it was beginning to thin out by the time we left at around 4am.

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Unfortunately our self-imposed obligation to have a mad one on May Day ultimately meant that for the second year in a row most of us missed the thing on Magdalen Bridge (is it a choir? Is it bells? I’m still not 100% sure). Park End was not particularly conveniently located on this occasion so those that did make it made a pit stop at college first. Our least favourite thing was the irony of the £12 entrance fee for a night titled “Broke Monday”, but I find that fairly forgivable in light of the prices of some of the tickets for certain other clubs that night.

In conclusion, I have seen in May festively hungover and having failed yet again to make it to the bridge, but pretty happy with our choice of Park End as the place to do so.

Disco Stu v. Big Poppa: Emporium
Libby Cherry and Matt Carlton

When it comes to big nights out, we like to avoid the mainstream. We’re shadow dwellers, Berghain babes – which is what led us to doorway of Emporium on May Day. After being aired on Oxtickets, we decided to make the most of a £8 post-brunch impulse buy and show our faces at potentially the most unpopular event of the most-hyped evening on the social calendar at Oxford.

The crowd? A motley gaggle of all your cheap friends,  and those who think that Cowley is a rural hamlet. Touchingly, perhaps the folks at Emporium had worked out that these weren’t the normal party types and had managed to create what can only be described as a ‘homely village green’ atmosphere with a paternal-looking fellow flipping burgers in the corner of the smoking area. Ben Lakeland, called the £3 meaty treats “decent”, glowing praise from Corpus’ notoriously discerning Domestic Officer.

Yet, despite this rather unpromising combination of elements, Emporium certainly managed to engineer a ‘vibe’ this May Day. As Francesca Parkes reported, ‘it was lit’. Disco Stu and Big Poppa were certainly cranking out some bangers, allowing you to segue from Sean Paul to the Bee Gees, an experience that certainly will lead to some reconfiguration of the shower playlist. Instead of the usual drum ‘n’ bass, punch in the face setup in the basement, one might even dare to describe the pit as wholesome. Looking round at those reddened faces, that cash saved appropriately blown on Jägerbombs, one had a feeling of finding your people.

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We ended up the staying the whole night. The Whole Night. It was a heartwarming experience, looking around at our fellow all-nighters, swaying arm in arm in that Ring. Meeting the other 02-ers and Bully-ers, tired and more than a little bit grumpy, on the Bridge the next morning only confirmed what we had already believed. May Day at Emporium – the indie choice.

This Is May Day 2018: O2 Academy
Sophie Kilminster

I didn’t have high hopes for the O2. Incessant and monotonous techno music isn’t really my scene – I am, for my sins, a cheese floor girl. However, all my friends were going, and, being the sheep that I am, I also forked out £37.

To get the negatives out of the way first: the music was very boring, it honestly sounded like one song was playing on both floors for the whole six or so hours we were there. Yeah, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to whatever that kind of music. Maybe I wasn’t on the right ‘level’ both sobriety wise and floor wise, but let’s be honest, other than a few Spanish(?) words in Peggy Gou’s set, nothing really stood out.

However, believe it or not I still had a brilliant time! I felt the whole vibe of the O2 that night was very ‘we’re all in this together, let’s push through’. People generally seemed in really good spirits. There was also an absence of aggressive pushing and shoving that you get in my beloved Park End. The venue was large enough for everyone to have their own space, find and stick with their friend groups. The decoration of the venue, with large glittery ‘May Day’ balloons and lots of confetti made it more into an occasion and added to the sense that this was a uniquely ‘Oxford’ experience we were embarking upon.

On a more basic level, the service at the bars was always really quick and the drinks were cheap, meaning I could work my way through (and convince my friends to pay for) many rounds of 4 Jaeger bombs for £10. I made it to the end of the night and had breakfast watching the singing. Despite my reservations and old-person music gripes, I had a fantastic first May Day and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. 

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