To club or not to club in Edinburgh: Maybe it’s time to put those days behind us

Should Cowgate have been included on the Edi 2024 Outs list?


Okay, I’ll be the one to point out the elephant in the room. Edinburgh has so many amazing things going for it – beautiful medieval architecture, scenic nature right in the heart of the city, the cosiest coffee shops, to name just a few. But, one thing Edi does not have is the best clubbing scene, especially in comparison to other student cities.

The selection of Edinburgh clubs are quite limited to those on Cowgate and the odd club or two over in New Town. Its pretty much guaranteed when you go out that you’ll bump into at least five other people you know, whether those are old friends from first year you drifted from, or ops you prayed you would never see again.

I’ve often found that friends who visit either tell me that Edi clubs are full of people who look underage, or that they enjoyed their night out but couldn’t be going back to those same clubs, week in, week out, for four years.

You could argue and say “I just haven’t tried all of the clubs in Edinburgh” or “I need to get out of Subway”, and whilst the latter may be true, there is not a club in Edinburgh I have not tried at least once.

Maybe it’s the fact that I spent second and third year out on Cowgate at least three nights a week. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a dissertation due in a fortnight or even that, at the ancient age of 21 years old, I feel slightly out of place sharing a dance floor with people who were still in school uniform this time last year, listening to Pitbull’s Hotel Room Service played multiple times.

As someone who used to live and breathe by the quote “you can sleep when you’re dead” (and in many ways still does), 19 year old me would be horrified to know that I am putting my clubbing days behind me AND broadcasting it in an article for all to read. To those who still enjoy their feral nights out in Hive, I honestly envy you (maybe not the Hive part, but still).

I miss having the energy to stay out until three am, and the next day debriefs are something I still look back and laugh over now.

I miss having the energy to stay out until three am, and the next day debriefs are something I still look back and laugh over now.

I will be the first to admit that in first and second year I used liquid luck to make me feel more confident – as a crutch for social anxiety and the fear that other people saw me as weird. As I struggled with friendships, clubbing and drinking was something I used to be able to socialise without these sober stresses, though it always caught up with me the next day.

Although clubbing and drinking never got to the point where it was unhealthy for me, I’m much happier now that a club night is seen as a special occasion and not part of my weekly routine.

All that being said, I must give Edi clubs credit where credit is due. First off, Edinburgh is the only city I’ve ever clubbed in where clubs are in such close proximity to the student area – you can walk back to your flat after a night out and feel relatively safe doing so.

Secondly, unlike the clubbing scene in Leeds or Manchester, you can enjoy music that other university cities might deem as cringy (Tamagotchi Tuesday and La Belle’s Taylor Swift and ABBA nights are never not sold out).

There also seems to not be the same drug culture in Edi that there are in other student cities. As someone who does not partake in that, it stops me from ever feeling FOMO. And lastly, clubbing in Edinburgh is astronomically cheaper than in other cities. More than once I have had to pay over £20 for a single in London, and I have friends who go to Leeds and Bristol who easily pay £40 for a clubbing event ticket.

It’s also very important to acknowledge the post-pandemic hit that night clubs have taken. With the closing down of the iconic, if not strange, Atik night club and its light-up dance floor in 2023, and nearly 400 night clubs having shut their doors since March 2020, it’s really important to support British night life.

Clubbing can be a massive part of the student experience, and is a part of the local economy here in Edinburgh – it’s crucial that clubs can stay open for those who wish to attend. It’s just that myself, and my fourth year peers may not be in the front line of night clubs anymore.

For me, clubbing is now no longer worth the hassle. It often takes up most of your afternoon and evening on the night of, and then the best of the next day to recover. And, in final year, this is time I’d much rather spend doing uni work, seeing friends in the daylight or doing stuff outdoors.

Because I’ve realised my favourite part of clubbing was not the actual dancing on the dance floor, but the pres – being able to play drinking games, bond with friends and relax after a long week of uni. Now if I feel like a cheeky cocktail or two, you’re far more likely too find me at the Southern, where at least I’ll remember exactly what happened the next day and I look *far* better in the photos than I would have they been taken at Dropkicks.