A quick google search of Southampton’s best clubs immediately brings up some rankings that are confusing at best to those in the know – Buddha Lounge pitted above Popworld, Stags above Switch, and some containing not a single mention of The Hobbit. With results like these sending freshers in the wrong direction, it’s time for a seasoned third year to step in and provide a more honest guide towards where to spend your sesh money once that first student loan drops.
Jesters & Clowns:
Not many bars carry a legend, especially not one so cursed that those in the know can’t wait to tell their ‘not-from-here’ friends exactly why the floor is as sticky as it is, and wait for the looks of horror. Between the ‘four corners challenge’ and the infamous ‘two-bicle’ bathroom, Jesters has a love-it-or-hate-it reputation as one of Southampton’s messiest bars to spend your night in. Students looking to spend their student loan wisely can treat themselves to a bucket, yes bucket, of one of several house special cocktails, which the menus mysteriously often only provide the names not ingredients of. The Jesters dance floor exists in a series of basement bunkers that get sweaty quickly once the DJ starts playing house party anthems back to back – dress light and designate yourself a pair of ‘jesters trainers’ that you’ll likely stick with for the next three years. Guaranteed to end the night sticky from someone else’s drink and walk home happy with a kebab from the shop next door.
Best night to go: Mondays and Fridays.
With its stripper pole to messily throw shapes on, cheap drinks, and cheesy-pop anthems like ‘Toxic’ and ‘American Boy’ playing till 3am, Popworld is and always will be an iconic fresher friendly venue. Mid-week student deals, fun atmosphere, confetti cannons, and a great disco playlist make Popworld one of my favorites of the Bedford place selection.
Best night to go: Lollipop Thursdays for £1.50 drinks.
Surviving ‘Quad-Vod Night’ as a fresher made me the man I am today (Is it legal? Does anyone truly know?). Go at least once and never look back.
Best night to go: Tuesdays.
Shooting Star and The Hobbit:
When it comes to bars, this pair (operated by the same management) provide an elite haven for Southampton’s grunge and alternative community, and me and my Dr Martens love it. The Hobbit serves a 5-pint tower that dispenses its infamous pint cocktails, has loyalty cards that earn you a ‘Heroes or Villains’ themed graphic t-shirt, and weekly quiz nights with prizes that are not to be missed. The Hobbit’s sister, The Shooting Star, serves its own galaxy-themed selection of pint cocktails as well as classics like pornstar martinis. To keep you and your mates busy, you’ll find pool tables, a gaming corner, and arcade machines. For the perfect ‘casual drinks’ vibe that soon turns into accidentally going clubbing till the sun comes up, these two are the perfect place to start.
Best night to go: Any weekday evening after a long day of lectures.
Other than ‘The London’ pub, The Edge serves as Southampton’s only LGBTQ+ bar and club venue, and whilst the city could do with some competition, this safe space offers a relaxed two-storey dancefloor and karaoke room for freshers to cut loose in. Bars offering karaoke in Southampton are few and far between, and only here can you jump and dance around on top of a floor that feels like it could give way at any second, to the soundtrack of a group of far gone third years belting out anthems from High School Musical.
Best night to go: Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
As a Fresher I overlooked Switch, but now it’s impossible for me to go on a night out without suggesting that we try and make it before the last entry. The dance floor is the biggest on offer in town and hosts a variety of events such as Bingo Lingo, Juiced, and Ladies Night that can’t be missed. With its on-stage dancers and fire breathers, giant inflatables hanging from the ceiling, and good quality EDM, House, and DNB music after midnight, Switch pulls through on providing that ‘big club’ experience. Do, however, be prepared for an inevitable kick-off while waiting in the queue, lots of lads, and a smokescreen of elf bars.
Best night to go: Fridays and Saturdays