Sauce & Cheese: Catering to Cambridge's Mixture of Music Tastes
In our guest blog this week, Cambridge University student Jessica Chinegwu gives us an intriguing insight into our hometown’s eclectic and endearing nightlife – exploring the highs and lows of the local club scene from a student’s perspective, the backdrop against which S&C first emerged half a decade ago…
Cambridge nightlife is...unique, to say the least. Coming from North London, the first time I heard the Lion King soundtrack played in a club, it’s safe to say I was somewhat confused. I find the cultural differences between London and Cambridge fascinating. The cities are less than an hour’s journey apart, but are opposite in many ways – miles apart in terms of memes, music and slang.
With four main clubs on offer in Cambridge (Fez, Lola Lo’s, Ballare, affectionately known as ‘Cindies’, and the newly established Vinyl, which was formerly called Kuda) to students and residents alike, selection is limited no doubt – but somehow there’s arguably something for everyone, even if it happens to be only one night a term.
Now in my third and final year, my main finding about typical nights out in Cambridge is that this town seems to be dominated by pop music and Year Six disco throwbacks: people here love their cheese. It didn’t take me long to realise way back in first year that unless you looked elsewhere, you would have to attempt to break out some dance moves to a variety of ABBA songs, remixes of Cotton Eyed Joe and so many replays of Mr. Brightside that you might just lose your mind.
Now, please don’t come for my neck – hear me out, I’m not completely against cheesy music. It’s fun and nostalgic and has great appeal. Like most people, my music taste is all over the place. Four of the playlists that I have curated on Spotify and are in constant rotation, are called Smooooth, Jazzy and Snazzy; Party Tunes and Throwbacks; Indie Film Bops; and Cheesy Songs and Sing-alongs (see!).
I must say, however, that as much as I love the other three playlists, the songs on Party Tunes and Throwbacks are the ones I like to hear on an ideal night out. The songs on this playlist range, but most slot easily into the categories of Afrobeats, Hip-Hop, R&B, or even a combination of these genres.
This is why out of the four clubs in Cambridge my favourite is without question Fez. I can step in and expect to hear Hip-Hop, R&B, Afrobeats, Trap and Grime music, a reprieve from the usual likes of Come on Eileen and making for a solid night out. A close second to this is Fleek Fridays at Cindies, which plays similar genres of music. This is because when I go on a night out I want to dance, not to stand around and participate in karaoke.
The general consensus is, however, that many students at Cambridge don’t share my favourable opinion about Fez. For instance, about a week ago, I saw a meme parodying the iconic Arianna Grande’s latest single Thank U, Next on the acclaimed Facebook page, Memebridge, in which one club taught love (Cindies), one taught patience (Vinyl), and the final one taught pain (Fez). Amusing as this meme was, it still irked me a little bit; nobody likes seeing their fave being dragged through the dirt.
Fez has its faults, I’ll admit; it’s small, dimly lit, can be a little quiet unless a big event is happening, and it makes you release your body weight in sweat. But it’s still been the location of some of my best and funniest nights out, and a large part of that has to do with how much I enjoy the music. This music is important to me because it reminds me of home; Cambridge can be a bit alienating for certain demographics of people, but music and finding people who share your tastes tends to be one way to remedy these feelings of isolation.
In my opinion, clubs like Fez and events like Strawberries & Creem (which has its humble beginnings all those years ago in a Fez club night, in fact) bring the much needed ‘sauce’ to Cambridge. According to the Urban Dictionary, sauce can be defined as “someone who has a style, confidence and attraction about them. Usually someone who is well-dressed, fashionable, and has an aura about them; swagger, style.”
Now, translate that and apply it to music, saucy music makes you feel like you can give the wickedest whine, it makes you feel like you’re “dripping in sauce, the drip-dripping so saucy,” (as Osh sang in his viral rendition of Burna Boy’s Ye). As meaningless as that may sound, it’s undeniable how much fun it is having the chance to wiggle my hips and skank along with my friends to my heart’s content.
It does make me to wonder though, whether opposing music tastes or styles can ever be reconciled. Meaning, can people with different music tastes be satisfied on the same night out? It depends. There are a few events in Cambridge where Sauce and Cheese have managed to exist harmoniously.
Over past few years, S&C have brought some acts dripping in sauce to the city – including J Hus, Not3s and Octavian. However, some of the headliners have also provided a generation with both sauce and cheese, giving us that glorious hit of nineties and noughties nostalgia too – in 2016 with Nelly, 2018 with T-Pain, and obviously in 2017 with Shaggy’s ‘Angels’ and ‘It Wasn’t Me’.
S&C Festival is a place where if you love R&B floor-fillers and club classics, you can sing your heart out. But likewise, if it’s disco or house that floats your boat, then you can flick a wrist to that too. If you prefer dancehall, buss a whine – or if it’s garage or grime, drop the two finger skank. Not to say that you can’t love it all. Furthermore its most definitely possible to go on a night out (or to a festival in this case), and have an amazing time regardless of the music styles on show. What really matters is the people you spend it with, good vibes and the memories you create.
By Jessica Chinegwu
You can expect a similarly diverse and danceable music selection at 2019’s festival, as we bring our biggest line-up ever to Cambridge – with an amazing assortment of artists across 3+ stages! Stay tuned for exciting announcements incoming…
Early Bird tickets (priced at just £40) are now RUNNING LOW: grab yours before they go
These will sell out in the next few days, so don’t hang about. Treat yourself or a mate for Christmas – as nothing says festive more than a festival ticket! Trust us, it will be worth every penny.
Big love and see you all in June! 🍓♥️