Whether you’re a bright-eyed Fresher or a veteran Third Year, Exeter can be a little confusing, especially when it comes to nightlife. First Years are bombarded with flyers and Facebook events telling them to attend club nights, and Second Years are fast learning that Rococos is not an acceptable place to be seen if you’re no longer living in halls. So here is HCX’s Rough Guide to Exeter Nightlife – complete with a Mean Girls’-inspired map (at the end of the article) to help confused Fresh and to remind inebriated Second, Third and Fourth Years of Exeter’s after-dark delights.
Freshmen – Rococo’s
Rococo’s is a mosh pit of Fresher fun on a Thursday. It is fondly remembered by anyone older than 20 as a formative part of their first year at Exeter University. The Fun Bus that picks up drunken Fresh from halls is a particular high point, especially on a fancy dress night. Personal highlights have included the ‘Goldie Lookin’ Chain’ DJ set and the Willy Wonka themed club night, where innocent bystanders had their faces plastered in luminous orange face-paint and their hair spray painted green to look like Oompa Loompas. Really funny at the time when drunk, nightmare for 9am lectures.
Preppy Kids/Cheese Lovers – Arena
Three things summarise Arena: cheese, VKs and the smell of feet. Although Arena does hold other club nights such as Fuzzy Logic Thursday and Monday Madness, it is best known for the solid cheese-fest that is Cheesy Tuesdays. If Aqua, Cotton Eyed Joe and Westlife are your thing then look no further: you’ve found your nightlife haven. The club is also close to fast-food restaurants for late night snacking after dancing the night away. Arena is usually a great night out and often holds fancy dress nights; just don’t attend the UV Paint Parties unless wearing a boiler suit!
Jocks – Timepiece
Anyone who plays sport at Exeter knows that Timepiece or ‘TP’ is the only place to be on a Wednesday night. Outside, the tables in the courtyard provide a great place to chow down on the infamous TP Burger and socialise. Inside, there are three levels to choose from. On the ground floor there’s a chilled out bar and live music venue featuring some of Exeter’s hottest talent. Go up a level and you’ll find a dance-floor where you can jump around to the latest chart toppers with some of the biggest sports clubs in Exeter, usually dressed as something ridiculous. The top floor is a whole different ball game. A sweaty hotbox crowded with randy sportsmen and women in fancy dress; look at someone for more than 4 seconds and you may find their tongue down your throat (rumour has it that TP was voted third easiest place to pull in England). Timepiece is one of the most popular places to go on a Wednesday and Friday and always guarantees a good night, even if you don’t remember it…
Varsity Jocks – Walkabout
Home of the pre-drinks for many sports clubs in Exeter, Walkabout is usually full of Rugby boys trying to out-drink each other.
Sexually Active Bandies/Indie Kids – The Cellar Door
Introduced last year as a new addition to Exeter’s nightlife scene, The Cellar Door has claimed Tuesday night with its ‘Thick as Thieves’ club night. You know a club is ‘Indie’ if it invites patrons to paint the walls themselves. Situated by the river on the Quay, away from the other main nightlife venues in Exeter, The Cellar Door offers something a little different. You’ll find live music as well as Drum and Bass, Hip Hop, House, Dubstep and Breakbeat (whatever that is) in this underground music mecca.
The Populars – Mosaic
Anyone who’s anyone goes to Mosaic on a Monday night for 4Play Events, and/or on a Thursday for Dirty Beats. Host to Ski Club Socials and Jack Wills parties, as well as sports club pre-drinks on a Wednesday, Mosaic is another club with three levels of fun. Club highlights: appearances from Spencer Matthews from Made in Chelsea and Joey Essex from TOWIE, and of course the HCX launch party last year.
Other – EX4
The only club in Exeter with a pole. Enough said.
This guide only features a few of Exeter’s most popular nightlife spots. The Cavern, The Old Firehouse and The Lemon Grove are all great places to see live music, and the pizzas at Firehouse are legendary. The Monkey Suit (still known by many as Amber Rooms), Pitcher and Piano and Hatts (formerly Coolings) are perfect for a chilled drink with friends and have a wide range of cocktails. So whether you’re Fresh or not, you’re sure to find somewhere that suits your musical and drinking needs.
Map drawn by Caroline Butten
Note: All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author