“ No matter what type of night out you enjoy, Aberystwyth has an array of choices. From a meal out in different types of restaurant to drinking in chic and modern pubs and nightclubs, you can do it all at Aberystwyth. After dining, you can pop into one of the towns 56 pubs and clubs, all of which offer a warm welcome to students (many have special offers and drinks deals). Many student clubs and societies organise social evenings. „
Well, what can I say? Well, to start with, if you've just turned up from Birmingham or Manchester, it's time to lower your expectations a little. Aberystwyth is a small town on the mid-Wales coastline with a population of approx. 19,000. This figure includes 7,000 students who call Aberystwyth their home during term time, and are also the people that make many of the drinking venues in the town viable businesses!
For the basic facts: Abersywtyth has four establishments that could be branded as nightclubs. These are the Students Union up Penglais Hill on campus, Why Not Bar Lounge, Pier Pressure and the Bay.
The students union is primarily aimed at students, you usually need proof you are at Aberystwyth university to get in (although you can bring in a friend from another uni as a visitor). Although the union, including the bars are open seven nights a week during term time, on some days there are different events, such a film and poker nights. Anyway, there is usually a big night 3-4 times a week, with the Union being open until 2-3am. The names of these events often change on a yearly basis, but the basic concepts and type of music usually remain similar.
Wednesday: Known for the last couple of years as ReLoad, plays a mixute of classic dance and more cheesy pop music. Tickets are around £4 and drink prices are reasonable too, usually with plenty of offers. This is often the most popular night at the Union, and always has a good atmosphere.
Thursday: Currently Pound Party. Starting in Cwrt Mawr Bar and then moving on to the Union, basically what it says in the title.
Friday: Most recently known as Cashback and Quids In. Provided your ticket is purchased in advance, you can get a refund for up to the complete cost of your ticket, depending on what time you arrive. In my first year, this was the biggest event the Union held, but seems to have lost some of its popularity so far this year, hence the slight change in name etc. Music is modern, the Bar 9 area playing R'n'B-type stuff, and dance/chart genres played on the main dancefloor next door. Many of the drinks are £1, including various pints, bottles and spirits & mixers, excellent value!
Saturday: Usually a special theme, with a fair proportion of people turning up in fancy dress. Along with Thursdays, it has also attempted to play host to an alternative music night, unfortunately this always ends up being dropped due to lack of demand.
The Union is worthwhile on the basis of reasonable prices, on a great atmosphere on busy nights, made almost entirely of students. Of course, for students staying in halls it's also a shorter walk home!
Why Not as it is now known is a very small club, located at the top of the high street. The venue, subject to regular rebranding, has previously been known as Yoko's and K2 amongst others. The main problem of this place is actually its size. In many other respects it is better value than Pier Pressure, being cheaper, better decorated and furnished and a reasonable sound system. Through the entrance and up the stairs, there is the main bar area, with drinks at reasonable prices if you are careful with your choices. Here there are big, comfy leather sofas and a raised seating area towards the back, with another small bar selling shots and a few other drinks. On the other side of this room is the dancefloor, a particularly small area, which can get pretty crowded on certain nights. Due to the size of the venue, the music seems much louder than Pier Pressure, but the whole place is well decorated, and has fairly quality feel.
Pier Pressure is Abersywth's biggest 'club', which as the name suggests, is positioned on the pier. Probably the most expensive place in the town, although there are special offer nights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Not housed in the most attractive building externally, the interior decor is also somewhat dated, and a full refurbishment is due soon. It has a bar at either end, both of which can get busy on popular nights, despite plenty of staff. Cushioned seating is positioned around the outside of the room, with further seating on a slightly raised deck at the front of the room, whilst the dancefloor is centrally located. As with most places in Aber, Pier Pressure has to try and cover everyones taste music-wise. This usually results in a fairly mainstream mix of pop, dance, R'n'B, with a few indie/rock tracks thrown in. The music is pretty similar most nights, but obviously you'll get some nights better than others depending on whether your personal taste is catered for. Regular requests are also taken. Entry is generally around the £4/£5 mark, although this can be made cheaper on some nights by arriving a little earlier, or getting a handstamp from the Inn on the Pier next door. If you go on the right night, this cost can usually be balanced out with cheap drinks if you're not too fussy. Pier is exceptionally popular on Thursdays (Pound Party), with Tuesdays and Fridays also pulling a fair crowd. This means there can be a bit of a wait to get in if you arrive late on. This year, Pier has also extended its opening hours up to 3.30am.
The final venue is the Bay, located on the seafront, it is usually the last place people head to at night, generally open until 4am, and usually with free entry on weekdays. Unfortunately the main dancefloor of the Bay was closed last year due to complaints from nearby houses about a lack of soundproofing, and this is something of a loss to the venue. This now means upstairs is primarily a seating area with the bar and pool tables etc, and the only dancefloor is located in the basement. To get to it, you have to go down some (fairly unsafe) stairs, only to find a fairly small area overcrowded floor, which has a big pillar right in the middle!
Bay used to play a good range of music having specific genre nights, ranging from dance and indie, to metal and reggae, although recently the playlist seems to have become more mixed on many nights, and I have only visited a few times since the upstairs dancefloor was removed.
So, as you can see, for the size of the place Aber doesn't do too badly, and the student population is well catered for. It is also important to take into consideration that half the experience of a night out in Aber is in numerous pubs and bars around town before heading on elsewhere! There is something for most nights of the week, and, as the clubs compete for customer, drink prices are very reasonable, with plenty of promotions going on. It's a different experience to what you might expect, but a good one for most nonetheless!