Nightlife At The Cube Marred By Poor Organisation

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Friday, September 28 was the first Friday of Fresher’s Fortnight, and hundreds of new students flocked to the Cube once again, hoping to experience Chris Stark’s DJ set and take advantage of the low prices and chance to continue to meet new people.  However, despite the Union’s usual reliability in putting on a good night, the event was soured by avoidable overcrowding and poor staff communication.

It would be ridiculous to pretend that the Cube hasn’t improved immensely since it rebranded earlier this year.  The addition of bars and podiums to the dancefloor has shortened queues and maximised the use of the space, and newer features like the inclusion of games such as Guitar Hero, Time Crisis and XBox Kinect outside Union

Image by Robert Hayes

Films and late-night snacks on sale at the Bridge continue to make the Union an enjoyable and varied venue on a Friday night.  However, problems with capacity and organisation that were evident last week may make Freshers think twice before they return.

The issues began around 11:30pm.  The dancefloor was heaving, and movement became exceedingly difficult.  On leaving the Cube to get a drink from the bar, I was refused re-entry until others left for the bar as well, the bouncers having adopted a one-in-one-out policy.  The situation steadily worsened as the night went on, as shown by Nick Goody, a Mechanical Engineering student:

I went out from the dancefloor to go to the toilet and faced a huge queue just to get through the doors to level 3. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but when I tried to get back onto the dancefloor the queue had grown and nobody was being let back in.  Freshers were beginning to leave, so I went to the front to ask a bouncer what was going on.

The bouncer replied that the Cube was “closed for the night”.  He said that the club was over capacity as too many tickets had been sold, and he was telling all of the waiting attendees to go home because “the night was over”.

When Nick asked a different bouncer about the situation, he was told that they would all be let in when the dancefloor became less crowded.  Approximately 15 minutes later, with the Cube at about two-thirds capacity, all the massed partygoers were let back in all at the same time, a rush that produced the exact same problem as before.

Image by Robert Hayes

English and History student Sera Berksoy said that she remained cut off from her friends for almost 30 minutes after she was let back inside and the others she arrived with remained stranded on the other side of the barrier the bouncers had created.

She added that:

Letting everybody back in at the same time was really dangerous.  Everyone was trying to force their way back onto the dancefloor through the same set of doors.

Nick went on to say:

I feel sorry for all the people who were forced to cut their night short through misinformation.  I can’t believe the event was actually oversold.

For one of their first nights at university to be ended prematurely must have left a terrible impression on a significant number of Freshers, and the claustrophobic conditions inside the Cube didn’t warrant many to consider return visits.  Fresher’s Week was always going to be busy, but the SUSU Nightlife team need to consider rethinking their strategies for coping with numbers if they hope to entice the all-important Fresher demographic into coming back to the Union every week.

SUSU President Sam Ling had this to say about Friday night’s event:

“I would like to make the following clarifications on the details. At no point during the night was the venue capacity of 1700 reached, with the maximum attendance reaching a peak at 1600.

There are a wide range of spaces available for students to enjoy, with the music being fed to all areas of the Union to give a consistent experience. At times when we have popular acts, like Chris Stark, the room they are in will hit safe capacity and a one in one out policy is enacted.

On this night at around 12:15pm, a fair amount of time after the headliner had started, the Cube room reached a safe number of students. Because of this, entrance was restricted until a time when numbers were at lower levels. This continued until 1am when the restriction could be lifted. During this time queues remained on floor two, and not floor three as suggested.

Safety will always come first.

Sam Ling
SUSU President

Safety will always come first, and the staff on the night made the right decision, and ensured it had the minimum impact. The staff who have worked on transforming our evening events program have done a fantastic job, and the quality is growing and growing. It’s also worth noting that we always listen to feedback, but it’s hard to change things when there is none. We have received nothing but praise by email for last Friday, I will however take on board these comments and look to continue improving our experience.”

Were you at the Nightlife event last Friday? What did you think? We want to hear from you, please comment below or contact editor@soton.ac.uk.

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Editor and MA English student. Follow on Twitter @SamEverard1

Discussion8 Comments

  1. avatar

    I had an awesome night and didn’t really notice these problems, or they didn’t have any effect on my night. A lot of people I have spoken to also enjoyed the night and thought it was one of the best yet. A near capacity night at the cube is better than an empty one.

    Sam Everard
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    I’m only reporting what the majority of people seemed to experience, as you can see from the other commenters below. I’m not denying it was a good night, I was having a great time too until all this trouble towards the end of the evening.

  2. avatar

    When an official response from any organisation refuses to show any remorse or admission of mistakes, it is very difficult to take the argument it presents on good faith.

    SUSU is in the difficult position of trying to be a venue AND a body that students can trust with the effective running of their lives at university.
    It doesn’t matter that different departments are responsible for different things, they fall under one umbrella and when one makes a mistake, this affects the trust we have in all the others.

    A massive crowd being allowed to flood a small room already holding another massive crowd is NOT indicative of a “safety will always come first policy”.
    I also find it hard to believe that the event was not oversold.

    Sam Ling
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    I’d like to reassure you that I absolutely did not set out to show no remorse or admission of mistakes in the response. In an attempt to a) produce a response quickly for the wessex scene, and b) not produce a response longer than the article itself, I may have come across as short and to the point.

    We keep a constant record of the number of students in the venue throughout the night and we always remain within safe limits for the venue as a whole, and individual rooms.

    From student, staff, and security feedback I’ve been reassured that the restrictions on the cube were only in place for a limited time.

    After safety I genuinly care about the quality of experience of all our students. We’re in a situation where we’ve gone from next to no attendees to our Friday nights, to an astonashing turnaround in the space of only 6months. We’ve spent the whole time listening and responding to feedback on queue’s, bar waiting time, entertainments, and all have been worked on and improved across the months.

    Already this week we’ve responded to feedback on queues at the welcome parties, and this friday saw improved processes, with new systems being developed even now to show improvements.

    This article had a number of factual inaccuracies, which I made sure to correct, and as mentioned in the response we have taken on board the feedback, and look to keep things improving. We will only be successful if students keep engaging with us, and supporting our events.

    I think we’ve come along way, and I’m hopeful that with students behind us we can continue to improve.

  3. avatar

    Surely students go to SUSU to go in the Cube and dance? I went on this night and never got into the cube while I was queueing. Meanwhile the bar area on level two was rammed. If SUSU never reached it’s capacity, then it’s capacity should be lowered, as we shouldn’t have to pay £4 just to be told the Cube is too full to go in. I can go to a bar and not dance for free.

  4. avatar

    Yeah I got caught in this massive queue trying to get to the dancefloor and people were NOT happy. I had to be a bit of a knob and push to the front to get in, which I’m not happy about, but no way I’m paying £4 to not get on the dancefloor. Poor organisation from SUSU.

  5. avatar

    Top notch article Wessex Scene, it’s good to see you guys questioning your own students union! More coverage like this will help improve those areas which aren’t up to scratch, keep it up!

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