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St Andrews Suffers Without Its So-Called Nightclub

Paris without the Eiffel Tower, Rome without the Colosseum, and alas, St. Andrews without 601. As I have now passed my first stage of grief, I am ready to discuss the tragedy which has set upon this town. The political landscape of St. Andrews has shifted, turned upside down, and may never be restored. For the freshers who so narrowly missed out on this haven, 601 is the student “nightclub” attached to The Union. It is a large black room with a stage which hosts an array of events, most notably Wednesday night’s ‘Sinners’. However, the beauty of the 601 did not come from its absence of decoration, design, or ambiance. For one day a week, it became a place where seemingly sophisticated, adult students would unapologetically dance to bygone pop hits while drinking neon beverages of every shade and size. Whether willing to admit it or not, everyone from the wide-eyed first year to the jaded fourth year would take part.

If you haven’t yet heard, St. Andrews consistently tops the rankings and polls for the #1 university in student satisfaction. I am sure this is largely because of the talented professors and multitude of amazing course offerings. However, some part of me thinks that the students who have attended university at a time of online lectures and strike action have had to derive their satisfaction through something other than a fragmented academic calendar.

Students fill their days participating in societies, picking up new hobbies, perusing their readings, and enjoying the beautiful town which we are all so lucky to inhabit. And that’s part of what makes us unique. But nowhere is free of human instincts - and I would suggest that is as true here as it anywhere else. At 601, and only 601, were we able to express those.

This is not to say St. Andrews does not have a vibrant and engaging social scene. There are plenty of pubs and events throughout the year, but each is becoming increasingly expensive and in turn exclusive. The monthly events are often black-tie or other smart attire, which although fun, are quite overly and sometimes unnecessarily refined. And maybe it’s precisely that which we’re missing. Nothing quite fits the niche absented by that central monument of St Andrean life - 601.

601, god rest her soul, knew nothing of etiquette or social cues. She did not require anything more than a jumper and sweatpants, was naive to the drunk elderly men who lurk in the pubs, and most importantly she brought the students of St Andrews together. What is truly at stake here is a forum to make a complete and utter fool of oneself, and the power that holds in unifying the student body. Luckily I have The Saint to do this to myself, but I worry for the greater good of St Andrew’s culture.

The University has said that the club will be restored to its former glory by next summer, but this is the same institution who decided to build a roof with a concrete substitute which has a 30 year life span. In the meantime, I will miss befriending the silent peer in one of my tutorials only to be forgotten by them the next day, witnessing student DJs hit the pinnacle of their career, and the ever-lingering fear of a rugby player arbitrarily trying to start a fight. 601 taught us an invaluable lesson. Under the visage of sophistication and maturity everyone tries to exude, we are all just depraved children yearning for sugary drinks and loud music. We all feel that way, right?

Illustration by Armaan Madanmohan

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