Party-time for student venues

Booths, bottles and bombers could be a big hit as group prepares for freshers’ week

• The Garage in Aberdeen will host a full freshers’ week programme for new students next week.

WHEN it comes to student venues, it’s not just the music that’s changed over the years.

Keeping an eye on drinks trends (and stocking up accordingly) and hosting relevant events are just some of the steps operators can take to attract the influx of young adults that arrive in towns and cities each year with freshers’ week.
But it’s all part of the routine for one established nightclub group.
Holdfast Entertainment, the firm behind The Garage and Campus nightclubs in Aberdeen and The Garage in Glasgow, has been catering for the student market for over 20 years.
And the company’s marketing manager, Andy Clark, said keeping a finger on the pulse is a big part of the company’s longevity.

RTDs are now being mixed in with other drinks in order to create cocktails.

He highlighted the current trend for RTD-infused cocktails as a change in the way young adults are consuming alcohol in clubs.
“They [RTDs] are now being mixed in with other drinks in order to create cocktails, so not a lot of young people know that they are even drinking them,” said Clark.
It’s not just the alcopops that are going down differently, the 25ml measure shot glass has also found itself a new home at The Garage over the years, said Clark.
“Shooters are now less popular, bombers have taken a lot of people away from shooters,” he said.
Although student life may not resemble the ‘Young Ones’ anymore, Clark said today’s televised youth have played their own part in shaping new drinking trends among young adults.
“Due to TV shows like Geordie Shore, TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex), etc. the bottle and booth culture has started,” he said. “Youngsters and students want to buy bottles instead of waiting at the bar for too long.
“There is also an element of looking like you are better off if you are able to afford a night out with a bottle and a private booth.”
The dawn of ‘bottle and booth’ culture has not been ignored by RTD brands and they have been quick to respond, bringing operators and popular TV shows together to make the most of the opportunity.

You need your product as a whole to be appealing, safe and most of all fun.

“We work with various brands,” said Clark.
“For example WKD are bringing us the TOWIE Tour which means a couple of the cast of TOWIE are going to be in on Saturday night to do a small meet and greet with our customers.”
Trends come and go but when it comes to the young adult market, Holdfast Entertainment aims to offer “as much as we can”, covering all bases, “from shooters like Keglevich to high end vodka Belvedere”.
“It means we can attract everyone, and keep everyone happy,” said Clark.
After a long summer break freshers’ week is the first big test of the new term for student venues, said Clark.
And this year, The Garage and Campus in Aberdeen will function as ‘official partner venues’ of the Aberdeen University Students’ Association.
New students will be welcomed with a packed schedule of daily events running from September 6-14.
The student-focused programme includes welcome parties, bar games pitting students from Aberdeen’s universities against each other, promotional giveaways, karaoke, pub quizzes and live music.
Staff at Holdfast Entertainment may have their hands full with new students next week, but the firm also focused on former students last weekend at The Garage in Glasgow.
The club, which turned 20 this year, invited alumni students of Glasgow along last Friday (August 29) to celebrate with a ‘Big Reunion’ party with a sound track spanning the last two decades of music.
Holdfast owner Donald MacLeod said the continued success of the club “is due to all the customers who have come through our doors over the years”.