thump's guide to freshers' week

The THUMP Freshers' Guide to Leeds

Get yer sen out and about, don't be a dick and stay classy!

by Marcus Clarke
22 September 2016, 10:46am

Leeds is well known for being the most culturally exciting city outside of London, offering a tantalising smorgasbord of everything you could possibly imagine. I mean that's why you moved here right? The huge number of students flocking to its numerous higher education institutions every year (I'm talking about you!) definitely add to its unique vibrancy and charm. The wealth of arts festivals and new food joints means you are totally spoilt for choice every day of the week.

Nightlife here is pretty relentless too, with an array of music venues, DIY club nights and house parties giving everyone something to lose their shit to. There was a time when a particular ilk of wreckhead liked to use the somewhat cringeworthy phrase "You can't spell Leeds without LSD and two E's", however there is perhaps just a kernel of truth in that clumsy sloganeering. Leeds can get fucked, and by that I mean Leeds really can get fucked...triumphantly so.


Thankfully more often than not taxis are cheaper than busses, enabling you to whizz between four different places in one night. In fact almost everything here is a bargain so you can max out on all the fun and make your southern enemies extremely jealous. This is going to be YOUR city for the next three years!

This is Leeds.

We're cheap.

We're nice.

You'll be reet.

Let's go!

A Club

Cosmic Slop's been one of Leeds' best kept secrets for nearly a decade. Only in recent years has it started to creep overground, attracting hundreds of dedicated party-goers that make their way down to its intimate dance floor and custom-built sound system every couple of weeks. Originally all you needed to get into this private party (from which all the proceeds go towards charity), was to put your name down in a Facebook group, but now the events are ticketed and often sell out in advance, with huge queues of people stretching around the block.

I know what you're thinking, sounds pretty exclusive right? Quite the opposite mate! The only reason I've stuck it out in that dreaded queue for three hours at a time freezing my proportionately sized nipples off is because I know what awaits me inside. Cosmic Slop is without a doubt the friendliest, most vibing place you can be on a night out. Playing everything from disco to afrobeat, grime to balearic—and all on vinyl, too—I've heard they even cut their own dubs so you can hear that new shit that dropped while you were busy pre-drinking. Did I also mention that Four Tet and Floating Points occasionally pop down to do the odd secret DJ set? No? Well I just did. So now you know.

A Really Good Pub

The Chemic Tavern is an odd place, and for that reason I like it. It's the sort of pub where you're either likely to walk in on a folk night or one of those spoken word events where somebody is giving you a very performative history of their sexual failures. It's also the kind of place where you can just chill in the corner with your meal from the chippy next door and play board games with your mates. This is what Leeds is all about in a nutshell: a city where you'll happily enjoy the company of people you wouldn't normally find yourself around.

A Decent Restaurant for Someone on a Budget

Bengal Brasserie—and please excuse me while I drool all over myself—is the one of the best budget curry houses in Leeds. The Sunday buffet (at just £10 per head) has sorted me out more times than I can shake a samosa at. Plus the staff there are proper nice, making it the perfect place to take a group of mates and have a lovely time. It sits just on the edge of Burley Park, which is famous for it's large population of cats and is most likely where you'll end up retiring with an allotment straight after you graduate.

A Great Gig Venue

The Brudenell Social Club is without a doubt the best venue in the world. I am by no means exaggerating when I say that there is no other place like it—anywhere! You wouldn't really think that from the outside as, after all, it is literally a 103 year old working men's pub in the centre of Hyde Park. Only, the Brudenell is a working men's pub where you can might happen to stumble across Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Fall, Martha Reeves or Thundercat, and those are just some of the names that have graced the stage over the past couple of years. On top of that it's cheap as owt. Seriously. We're talking £2.10 for a pint of Theakstons! It's feels like home, yet it's the place of a thousand legends.

A Record Shop

Leeds' premier independent record store, Jumbo—located inside the St. John's shopping centre—was established way back in 1971 and has since been a vital part of the Leeds music scene. Get familiar because this will probably be your go-to place to get all your gig tickets and latest records as well as the odd instore gig. The staff might even order in something for you if you ask them nicely! You've got to be nice though.

A Museum You Can Take the Person You Got off with on the First Night in Halls To

So, you just got off with some random from down the hall on your first night because when they asked you what course you were doing—that being their second question after "where are you from?"—you thought "fuck it, still got a week to wait until the internet is up and running". Now you're staring at their Facebook profile thinking "Wow, what if they really are THE ONE?"

Why not test their romantic eligibility with a trip to the Royal Armouries? Or should I say Royal L'Amour-ies? Get it? 'Amour' is French for...never mind. Yes, what better way to contemplate intimacy than by exploring the diverse ways in which humans have tried to brutally murder each other in wars across multiple millennia? I'm talking big fucking swords and metal suits mate, none of this modern drone shite!

Ooh! Maybe this could be your gateway into medieval-oriented BDSM? Probs best to give that a go first, don't want to jump in too deep.

A Truly Local Spot That You'll Feel Really Smug Knowing About

If you moved to Leeds because you heard about how much incredible music we produce and you want to be a part of it, firstly may I just say you have impeccable taste. Secondly, the place that epitomises your insatiable lust for boundless creative noise is CHUNK, a collectively run DIY practice space and venue that's producing some of the most interesting and prolific bands in the scene right now, as well as playing host to Leeds' top inclusive club nights Slut Drop and Come Thru.

A Place to Drink Coffee in Between Lectures Because You Will Suddenly Decide That You Drink Coffee Now Even Though You'd Rather Have a Squash

Opposite (as its name suggests) is opposite the entrance to Leeds University by the iconic Parkinson Building, named after Yorkshire's sexiest octogenarian talk-show host Michael Parkinson. Because of its convenient location (opposite the uni..remember? Come on keep up!) Opposite has become a hotspot for Leeds students to meet up before lectures and get strung out on some of that premium Colombian black-gak. "Parky and chill", as it's referred to in these parts.

A Good Bookshop

Why on earth would you read books when all the words are on the internet now? What even are you? Some kind of nerd? Nah but really, though, you could just like go to Oxfam in Headingley or something, I don't know. Books.... Really?

A Place to Laze About the Morning After the Night Before

If you feel like everything you thought you were about has collapsed like a neutron star and you can sense a cold dark formless shroud licking the base of your skull, all because peer pressure has moulded your utterly shambolic excuse for self-esteem into a frail collective husk of human dandruff, then trust me, I know a place in the middle of Roundhay Park that can cure you. It's called Tropical World.

Tropical World is a wondrous indoor animal infested botanical garden of beauty! Imagine Jurassic Park but instead of dinosaurs they have animals that haven't done one yet, and instead of Jeff Goldblum they have meerkats. It's like being sat at home watching Attenborough on iPlayer but in real life, which is kind of like 3D but where you have to stand up.

After a few hours of thinking about nature and stuff you'll be whole again. Maybe you could even give your mum a quick ring to tell her a little fact you've learnt on your day out, and thus the circle of life will be complete.

So in conclusion Leeds is fucking boss mate. Get yer sen out and about, don't be a dick and stay classy!

Marcus is on Twitter.