Returning students know the pain of lacking a proper venue to go out in. For the majority of first semester last year, we endured the elegantly titled Venue 1, a large room with a stage at the far end. I would go into more detail, but that is literally all it was. Sinners, bops, the occasional fashion show, were all shunted into an awkward, empty space with unattractive lighting and an utter lack of direction. When Venue 1 closed mid-way through the year, we were sentenced to wander through the Union on Wednesday nights, decked out in sports kit and searching for a decent place to dance. While the Main Bar, Sandy’s and Beacon Bar are all perfectly adequate spots to socialise, they lack a certain club-like atmosphere that could be found in the Vic, Ma Bells, or – should enough alcohol be consumed – the Lizard.
It was with great anticipation, therefore, that we have spent this past Freshers’ Week in Club 601. I confess that when I first heard the name, I groaned: would they ever let us forget St Andrews’ 600th anniversary? President Pat Mathewson informed me, however, that the name was far more meaningful than it seems at first glance. 601 just so happens to be the capacity of the venue, and class on weekdays officially ends at 6:01pm. With this in mind, Club 601 becomes less a boast of our university’s age and more a celebration of the small details that make us unique.
Inside the club, Venue 1 has been completely transformed. The cramped Building Site Bar is now a sleek, trendy counter that runs the length of the wall. Booths can be found tucked away in corners throughout the space, providing privacy that the venue previously lacked. The stage remains similar to its previous iteration, but rather than presiding over an uncomfortably large square, performers now overlook a proper dance floor flanked by more seating. If partygoers look up, they can see a long glass window opposite the stage, through which the Union’s technical people have a bird’s eye view of the festivities below. Touring this room before an event one night, I was barely able to take in the wide array of electronics that were spread on every available surface. It seems that the Union has been upgraded both inside and out.
With the launch of Club 601, the Union has done the impossible: lived up to the hype. Hypercritical returning students arrived in St Andrews this year poised to be disappointed, but I have yet to see any negativity voiced about the new club (even, most impressively, on anonymous app, Yik Yak, the primary producer of brutal reviews). It is still to be seen how the venue will fare once the Freshers’ events are behind us and classes begin once again, but I can say with confidence that Club 601 has earned its spot as a regular stop on the St Andrews social circuit.