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Victims of Chance

On Thursday, 7 March, a fire alarm went off at the Vic, one of St Andrews’ most popular spots for a night out. This occurred during one of the most popular Vic events, Throwback Thursday,  commonly referred to as Throwbacks. Around 12:15 am, the fire alarm sounded inside the Vic, forcing partygoers to evacuate the dancefloor.  

One evacuee, Bethan Williams, said, “I just remember dancing on the floor at the Vic. Then the music stopped and people were shouting, ‘Fire alarm, fire alarm, get out’. At first, I had no idea what was going on. So then we left, and there was a crowd of people, like a swarm, outside the Vic.”  

A chaotic scene followed the evacuation as one person recalled, “I remember it being really hectic, because there were people in the road and there were cars coming... it was dangerous.” 

This culminated in a major disturbance when the window of St Andrews Golf Store, a shop neighbouring the Vic, was smashed in. Onlookers were unsure what happened, but one remembered hearing the glass of the window smashing loudly, though they were confused about what led to this as, even when queuing, it’s common for people to lean against this window. Vic management stated that they are in conversation with the shop. The Saint reached out to St Andrews Golf Store, who declined to comment. 

Another evacuee, Henry Phelan, recalled the moments following the window smashing saying, “We were queued up to get back in again because we wanted to continue our night, and the bouncer ushered all the students away and he said, ‘Get out the way guys, you’re supposed to be smart’.” 

Ms Williams stated that there was speculation amongst attendees of the evening that a fire had started inside the Vic, “They were saying it was in the attic, but that was as we were leaving, so it could just be word of mouth.” But the Vic’s management made it clear to The Saint that there was not a fire inside the Vic at any point. It’s unclear what triggered the alarm, but Vic management suggested it was either an electrical fault or potentially someone smoking in the bathroom or on the dancefloor. Jack W, a manager at the Vic, said that the Vic has been in contact with the fire department about the incident and an investigation is ongoing. 

Both Throwbacks and the Vic stated that little comment could be made on the situation due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. 

The Throwbacks team expected to gain re-entry to the Vic that same evening, but, according to the team, the bouncers and managers “deemed it unsafe”, so the event was cancelled. This caused many people who initially intended to spend their evening at the Vic to move to other locations in St Andrews, like the Union. 

Mr Phelan expressed his annoyance with this, “I was really frustrated, because we’d only been there for, like, half an hour”. 

Ms Williams agreed with this, stating, “I was looking forward to Throwbacks, but I had to go to the Union, which was a bit depressing.”  

As attendees were not allowed back inside on the night of the alarm, many left coats inside. Mr Phelan recalled the weather as being rainy, with evacuees getting “cold and wet”. 

However, it doesn’t seem as though Throwbacks’ business is at risk of collapsing. When asked if this would stop her from returning to Throwbacks, Ms Williams replied, “No, I love Throwbacks, and what else are we supposed to do in this town?” 

Further, when asked if these events would impact the Vic’s relationship with Throwbacks, the management at the Vic expressed their satisfaction with the manner in which the Throwbacks and Vic teams respectively managed the incident. 

The theme for the evening was Mean Girls, in partnership with the St Andrews EmpowHer Society, raising money for Fife Women’s Aid. Fife Women’s Aid is a non-profit located in Glenrothes that “offers support, information and refuge to women and children” who have experienced domestic abuse. Throwbacks has refunded all tickets for the event, apart from the booking fee, as that money goes to FIXR. Any profit made from the evening has been donated to Fife Women’s Aid. Throwbacks has stated that they have yet to determine the amount they are donating to Fife Women’s Aid, but that the money donated will come from tickets resold at the door, which began at 23:30 on the night in question. 

Images by Claire Waskow

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