High Spirits is now one of Nottingham’s regular events, increasing its popularity as time has gone since its beginnings. However, in addition to being popular, it is also very polarising, with swathes of students either jumping to support or criticise it at every turn. Therefore, Impact has commissioned two very different articles. One, written by Priyal Dadhania, bears the standard of critcism, and the other, by Rebecca Meeson-Frizelle, waves the flag of positivity vigourously. We hope you find each article measured in its subjectivity, and bear in mind whilst reading that they are there to stimulate conversation and debate. Let’s get to it!
A provocative question has endured since the promotion’s inception – is High Spirits a rip off or one of the best student nights Nottingham has to offer? It’s advertised as being the best party in Nottingham and it sells out on a monthly basis. Admittedly, the tables are adorned with a plethora of cigarettes, sweets and a mixture of spirits and wine. However, within an hour of being there all the fags and the best sweets have disappeared; it seems there just aren’t enough Ferrero Rocher to go around.
For those of you who claim, ‘‘It’s fabulous- boys, booze and banter’’ I respond with the question, “How much of the night do you actually remember?” With access to unlimited quantities of alcohol, the night ultimately leaves you waking up with a blistering headache. After drinking solely to fulfil the value of £20-25 which you spent on entry and ultimately not recalling any of the night you’ve just had, you spend the vast majority of the next day curled around the toilet bowl. For those of you who thought the glamorous event meant you would be receiving stellar alcoholic treatment in the form of Smirnoff Vodka you’d be mistaken; the alcohol is the cheapest kind – namely Prince Consort, which tastes like warm gasoline, and costs about £6 for a case of 6 bottles. That doesn’t quite fit the bill of “fabulous”, does it?
This begs the further query; is it simply the decadence of the venue which makes the night appealing? The plush interior- sleek and modern, crystal chandeliers and the warm purple decor does make the host bar considerably more upmarket in comparison to our usual student nights. However, it could be said that upmarket and student are two words which should never coincide. The big three; Oceana, Cr-isis, and Ocean; whilst not being the most beautiful of venues, are crammed full of people on a weekly basis with students willing to queue for hours to get inside! The drinks are cheaper, there’s more space to dance, and best of all- entry is only £4-6!
As of this year, instead the previous access to unlimited alcohol, once the selection of drinks on your table has been consumed you are given six drinks tokens which you are able to use to for a small range of drinks options. No longer is it an ‘all you can drink night’, which inevitably defeats what was originally one of the unique selling points of High Spirits, effectively turning the night into a money grabbing scheme – at least even more so that it already was.
In addition to this, boys pay 25% more than girls for entry. Whilst last year this could be somewhat justified as males generally consume more units of alcohol than females, it is now debatable due to the alcohol limitations. This is only done in the A- List London clubs, where the majority of men going are able to afford to pay more- so why has it been bought to Nottingham, particularly aimed at the student market?
The bar staff have a similar opinion, having been forced to watch crowds of people increasingly becoming less and less aware of what they are actually doing and approaching the bar in the continual pursuit of more booze. A veteran of over ten High Spirits nights claims; “If you want to see the highest concentration of self-obsessed, rude, entitled students anywhere in Nottingham, High Spirits is the place for you. The fact that they dress in their labels and carry themselves with such arrogance is pathetic and hollow when you consider that they all want to do is get shit-faced for as little as possible.”
Finally, the event finishes at midnight and you have to pay for entry to a club elsewhere! “It’s a fucking waste of time’’ is a view which, once heard, in fact epitomises the night. The majority of people don’t actually maintain any composure, which means that when they leave, they hardly ever want to call it a night there and then. Within minutes of finding a club for the after party, punters begin to feel sick and tired and their night ends prematurely. A consensus seems to be that “the idea is interesting, yet in reality, drinking at home can be just as fun’’. This begs the question; is High Spirits actually worth the money you pay when living off a student budget?
“Always dressy, always messy”: the infamous catch phrase of the legendary night that is High Sprits. A rite of passage for 2nd and 3rd year students, yet due to its ever increasing popularity, brand new to this year is High Spirits Fresher’s edition with Coco Lounge being recruited as an additional venue alongside Escucha in order to cope with the overwhelming demand. As Joshua Britton, one of the organisers behind the event explains, “Coco Lounge is a new venue for High Spirits. It was used years ago before High Spirits moved to Escucha. We use Escucha as the primary, as its bigger, then add on Coco Lounge if required.”
Although the majority attend High Spirits at Escucha, the decision to use Coco Lounge appears popular. As a male second year who attended returners week High Spirits asserted, “Initially many people seemed disappointed they weren’t at Escucha simply as it is bigger and probably the more well known venue. But High Spirits at Coco Lounge was still enjoyable, as it’s a small venue it felt more intimate compared to being in a massive club and the venue in general is a really nice, upmarket spot.”
There is no question that High Spirits is a night that you are guaranteed to remember. Or perhaps not. This is due to the prime selling point of the night: “unlimited alcohol”, four 1-litre bottles of spirits and one bottle of wine. Attentive staffs at the respective venues are also on hand to ensure that the spirits never need be drunk neat, constantly replacing mixers as they run out. And it does not end here. Whereas in the past, High Spirits has operated a token system once the alcohol on the tables has been exhausted, High Spirits on 18th November will see a no token system for the first time, most definitely ensuring the “unlimited” aspect of the night and that High Spirits lives up to its “Always Messy” reputation.
Although High Spirits-goers have hinted that the night is a little on the expensive side, suggesting that perhaps the cost should be decreased to £15 for girls and therefore £20 for guys, it goes without saying that you do get value for your money. The copious amount of alcohol available on the night would be hard to equal on one of your standard Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday night out, without your bankcard taking a severe battering! Yet it is not only the alcohol aspect that meets value for money. Certain treats such as free cigarettes, and sweets galore conveniently await you on your table. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the majority of the nights are themed.
For example, a female second year student who visited the Christmas edition of High Spirits as a fresher last year, raved about the “Christmassy” feel to the night with the venue decked out with Christmas trees and crackers on each table whilst a particular highlight was the Santa dishing out free sex toys. She also spoke of the clear effort put into the Hawaiian themed Easter edition of High Spirits, complete with inflatable palm trees, cocktails in coconut shells and wreaths of flowers to wear around your neck. Whilst High Spirits goes the length to create a unique and memorable atmosphere, putting the effort into the designated theme, the music is another aspect which contributes to the buzzing ambiance of the night.
From the moment you arrive up until around midnight, the music remains unobtrusive, allowing you to have a conversation with your fellow table mates without yelling in their ear. However, a DJ gets the party well and truly started when the major beats throb at about midnight. Returners week High Spirits saw the DJ commencing with a remix of summer anthem “One” by Swedish House Mafia which went down a treat with revellers whilst the rest night of the night followed suit with catchy mixes of popular house anthems. Safe to say High Spirits is “Always messy”.
Its also“Always dressy”. The slogan doesn’t lie: it’s another one of the main incentives for students to splash out on this night. Whereas you can most definitely get away with heading to Crisis in your scruffiest pair of pumps and most ventilated dress, you cannot afford to dress in this way for High Spirits. The word on the street is that girls should don their high heels, fanciest frock and chandelier earrings. Guys, whack out your favourite shirt, as it really is that dressy – at least in comparison to the mainstream nights out. Yet this is another pro of High Spirits. A standard night out in your University life will usually involve the destruction of the pristine and clean outfit you ventured out in, targeted by spilt Jaeger bombs and the sweaty chests of Baywatch shirt-twirlers. Those who have experienced the event have asserted that the smart dress code of High Spirits is a welcome change from this.
Table arrangements are another feature of the night which serves to build on its classy image, an element which is only normally found in higher end clubs. In regard to higher end clubs, Escucha and the slightly smaller Coco Lounge are rather glamorous locations, belonging to the elite of Nottingham’s numerous bars and clubs.
By now you’ve probably cottoned on to the fact that High Spirits is one of those nights that perhaps verges slightly on the pretentious side. If pretence and venturing out to mingle and be seen is not your scene, but causes you to cringe at the very thought, then this is probably not the night for you. Yet it remains to say that High Spirits has earned the right to be an integral part of every Nottingham student’s university nightlife experience.