A brief history of Cindies

Image credit: Emma Meads

Cindies unquestionably holds a very special place in the Cambridge experience. Initially called Ronelle’s, it launched the career of Steve Thomas, founder of Luminar, owner of both Cindies and Life, and of Europe’s largest nightclub company pre-recession.

Thomas hoped to draw in Cambridge’s “John Lewis-type”, and ‘Ronelle’ was a riff on the John Lewis brand-name ‘Jonelle’. Following a period as Cinderella Rockefellas (hence the nickname), it was then rebranded as ‘Fifth Avenue’, only for it soon to be rechristened in true Cambridge style as ‘Filth’ for the state of its carpets. In 2003, it finally became the ‘Ballare’ we know and love.

Dr Rosanna Omitowoju from King’s remembers the club from the late 80’s: “Back in the day, it was called Ronelle’s, and it was hideously expensive at the weekends. It was student night on a Tuesday night and Ladies’ night on a Wednesday, which meant it was free for women, so loads of men went. They played mainstream late-’80s pop-y stuff that was in the charts – back then there actually was a chart, with records!”

Same club nights, same cheesy ‘80s pop, same ‘Filth’; same unknowable appeal? In almost 35 years, it seems very little about Cindies has changed.

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