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Dancing and drinking in a lecture theatre: St Andrews nightlife, how has it changed?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

‘What is a typical night like in St Andrews, I thought it had no clubs?!’ is the question I get asked most often after telling people the town where I study. Due to its apparent lack of techno clubs and variety of busy nightlife every day of the week, many often assume that St Andrews students either don’t go out or spend their time loitering around in a few pubs. You only have to ask people why St Andrews wasn’t their first choice and they will often reply it was due to the rumours about the ‘notoriously bad’ nightlife. However, from personal experience, I know that this is far from the truth and luckily so do most students after a semester. Undoubtedly, St Andrews students know how to have a good time. 

The current nightlife in St Andrews is classified into three categories: pubs, clubs, and events. Everyone knows that first years pile into Mollys, then have moved onto Brewco by Second Year. By the time students are in their Third and final years, The Criterion and The Central and amongst the places to be. However, the pub dynamic is by no means simply classified by year. Sports and societies can dictate who’s where and on what night. Every Wednesday (sports night), Rugby and Hockey players can be seen rallying around Mollys whilst there’s normally a few people tied to each other in Market Street participating in a common sports night out of ‘flat three legged relays’. A quieter night is usually a Thursday, where activities include those that write for The Saint student newspaper being in heated pitch discussion in The Central. 

As for me, I love a sports night at Mollys, the vibes in BrewCo and a relaxed drink at the Criterion. Each pub brings something different and this is something which hasn’t changed very much in the last 30 years. Having delved into the past to look at where students went during the 90s, I’ve since learnt that there was no other bar than The Central. Another of the most well-known pubs until around 2017 was Ma Bells, located under what is now Hotel du Vin. Former student Charlie who attended St Andrews from 1991-95 was a keen sports player and remembers Ma Bells as being a great, affordable night out on a Wednesday evening. 

Humanities students like myself would never associate one of our main lecture theatres, ‘Younger Hall,’ with drinking and dancing, but that is precisely what it used to be – one of the first, most lively, nightclubs in St Andrews. 

The venue and nightclub, dubbed ‘Katie’s’ or ‘Kates’, was named after the myth of the girl Katherine Kennedy who inspired the origins of the (slightly infamous) Kate Kennedy Club. Clubbing took place every Thursday with around 1,000 students enjoying their night out here every week. Wendy, a former psychology student from 1992-96, remembers Katie’s as a fun night out which resembled a school disco. Just some lights flashing and some cheesy music – not exactly a rave – but still a fun night out with friends. 

Former student William, who managed Katie’s for five years during his undergraduate degree (1990-95), outlined the demand for  a student-run nightclub. As the student union was only open for a ‘Mega Bop’ on a Friday night: ‘Katie’s’ was an affordable, easily accessible night out for all year groups. 

Music collectives such as Frequency and Amen put on events around every week in St Andrews at clubs such as the Vic and the Rule. Each collaboration of student DJ’’s and organisers bring a different aspect to the St Andrews music and clubbing scene. There is usually something to suit everyone whether you like a good night of ‘Haus’ techno or some cheesy classics at Thursday ‘Throwbacks’. Before the days of these St Andrews music collectives advertising their events on Instagram, Katie’s was advertised only by flyers. One was placed under every single car on North Street every Wednesday. On Katie’s busiest night of the year, around 1,300 students were enjoying clubbing in Younger Hall, a place where we are all usually stuck taking notes. 

Lastly, I couldn’t delve into the St Andrews nightlife without showcasing the fashion show and society scene. With FS, DONT WALK and VS to name a few, St Andrews has no shortage of fashion collectives, with style being an essential part of societies and student life. FS and DONT WALK hold two of the biggest events on campus every year, their annual fashion shows which, alongside a build up of launch events, greatly contribute to the variety of nightlife options available. This year saw the opportunity to dress up in your most fashionable outfit and hop on a bus to an unknown location, (DONT WALK always keeps the location anonymous until the night) and witness some incredible outfits, choreography and music. 

With an extremely high level of organisation and skill, the fashion shows in St Andrews are some of the most well known within the student community, yet where did it all begin? The first ever student-run fashion show in St Andrews was named the ‘University Charity Fashion Show’, and it took place in the preferred venue of the time, ‘Younger Hall’. According to one organiser, everything was very local, from the clothes sourced to the hair and makeup. This 1993 fashion show set the foundation for some of the world’s most prominent student-run fashion events and sparked the love for fashion that runs through the town’s veins. 

So, I answer your question, for those who still believe that St Andrews has no nightlife. Yes, we only have two clubs. But we make up for it on every single night out. I pledge for the next music collective or fashion society to consider Younger Hall, one of the town’s most underrated venues, as a location for an event. Why not dance the night away and return at 9am to the same place, convenient and a way to connect with the history of the town.

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Tilly Frain-Bell

St. Andrews '26

Hi! My name is Tilly and I am a second year student at the University of St Andrews studying French and International relations. During my spare time, I love going to the beach, playing lacrosse and sailing. I am excited to be a part of Her Campus and to expand my experience in the journalistic field.