Review: ArcSoc’s changed, and I’m not happy

Olivia Fletcher 1 November 2015

On Friday night, I went to Arcsoc and Turf's 'The Metamorphosis' event at the Cambridge Guildhall and was shocked at the lack of organisation and value for money; seemingly severed from the student-sphere, it left me wondering what Arcsoc has become and whether the society itself has metamorphosed into something ugly. 

Having invested sixteen pounds and eighty pence in a night out, I did not expect to stand in a disorderly queue for an hour and a half. There were no barriers stopping people from pushing in as they arrived at the venue which shocked me because this seems like an essential part of crowd control; it should have been an obvious call for a venue expecting 1.2k guests (according to Facebook). This small error perpetuated the queue, and caused annoyance for security, who persistently asked the ever-expanding crowd to move back, as well as distress for those in the queue who were confused at the inverse queue logic. Not only was this evidence of a poorly organised event but also, exploitation on a gross scale: there must have been over 300 people standing in a stationary queue, all of whom had payed upwards of ten (some, up to twenty-five) pounds each. Capitalising on Cambridge students who are desperate to have fun is not so original – it has been done in the past – but coming from a student-run ents team like Arcsoc, it delivered a particularly low blow. 

By the time we finally got into the Guildhall, there were only two hours remaining of the event. After which, we were expected to join the back of yet another queue and pay the standard Cambridge club night rate (£4) for the after-party. Another low blow. 

As someone who has been a major advocate of both Turf and Arcsoc events over the last two years and who was very much looking forward to this event, I felt exasperated mid-way through the night. After spending nearly two hours in the queue, only to find another queue for a flooded and unusable toilet, positivity for the prospects of the remaining two hours had all but been exhausted. 

The infamous photo of the great flood was removed from the Facebook page. (Image credit: Chaya Kupperman)

As I’m sure those who attended will agree, this is but a mere representation of the many administative flaws which ultimately, destroyed the night. Hopefully, these widely held complaints will be taken into full consideration for the next event. Kate McCleer, the President of Arcsoc, claimed that this was an ‘experiment’, hence the chaos. Understandably, many of the mistakes that were made were beyond the society's control yet, this makes one wonder why most attendees paid almost twenty pounds for an event which, the President openly admits, was a risk. Cambridge night-life definitely needs more experimentation and indeed, this was ambitious but it was irresponsible and immoral to charge such an extortionate rate, but I’m sure Turf had something to do with this…

The truth is: the music and the decorations were amazing – but, after the myriad of assaults against my senses, my morale and my bank account, it was difficult not to view the rest of the night through a resentful lens. Afriquoi provided a short burst of energy, but playing to a half-empty town hall at 1am must have been a first. The laser display against the organ was incredible and I stared at it for a good five minutes and the dead-body-bunting also striked up a love affair with my eyes. These echoes and reflections of Arcsoc’s past – events such as 'Voluptuous', at the Union in 2014 or their tribute to Yves Klein Blue in November 2014 – made the failed event all the more poignant because it was a reminder of what could have been and what used to be a fun, eclectic and well-meaning night. 

Based on previous events and both Turf and Arcsoc’s (until now, relatively unscathed) reputations, I trusted that this night would live up to expectations and did not hesitate to spend the money that I did. Yet, after a devastatingly disappointing night I think I speak for many when I say, I would like a full refund for my ticket and for ArcSoc to return to its former glory as a student society run in the interest of funding their own pursuits, not as a glimmering accessory to Turf’s commercial gain.