Every August, pubs and clubs around Waterford fire up their think tanks, get their designers and printers on standby, and brace themselves for battle. They’re fighting for the love of the students, but, should they bother? Is a student’s love worth all the effort?
Back in the late 90s and early 00s if you had students packing into your bar, you had a licence to print money. They would pack into the bar from 7pm and stay out til 2 and 3 am. They drank like fishes and shagged like rabbits. But, unfortunately, times changed..radically.
I don’t really need to go into all the factors that led to where we are today, we all know that by now, but it might be worth talking about how dramatically those times changed.
It actually baffles me as to why some bars and night clubs feel the need to pursue the student trade so aggressively. They drink their cheap tesco offers in someone’s house til about 12am where they spill out onto the streets and into town. You could walk around town at 11pm and wonder why there’s nobody on the streets, and then an hour or so later get trampled on. So, at most, the clubs are looking at 2 hours of trade.
I worked in student venues for the last 10 years and last year was the absolute worst of them all. You can no longer have a door charge because students just won’t pay it anymore. If you had a “door tax” then at least you were guaranteed to get that much of the students. With no door charge, many students arrive into town with anything from 10 euro down to absolutely nothing. They’re already drunk and now all they want to do is dance and have a good time. The club is now providing students with a free venue to enjoy. What makes this worse is that because the majority of these students are already drunk, then they’re going to get sick all over the place and a minority will also think nothing of causing physical damage to the premises.
I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes, so I won’t tolerate people telling me that I’m being harsh on the poor students. A multitude of them arrive in waterford like a school of louts arrive in Tenerife. We don’t live here, this is not our home, so we’ll trash it without conscience.
And yet, the pubs and clubs still spend a fortune to lure them in. Let’s look at what some local venues have done this year.
Revolution and Kazbar – Did nothing. Learned their lesson from previous years.
Harveys – €2 entry and all drinks €2. If you do some very quick maths you will see that after paying entertainment, staff, rates, fees etc…even with a club that’s full to the max…you’re not making much money. Busy fools I believe the popular phrase is.
The Foundry – Same as harveys. They may as well just hand out €2o notes to the students when they arrive into town.
Masons – DJ upstairs and premium band downstairs. Cost of entertainment between 700 and 1000. They dominated the student market last year and were strongly tipped to do the same this year. Students have no loyalty though and most deserted them for the foundry and harveys. Masons didn’t go €2 drinks, instead opting for 3 drinks for a tenner. Making more money on the other two on drink and still very busy on mondays and wednesdays.
Shortts and Crystal – The new kids on the block. With a huge night club, there was reason to think that maybe the students would take to it like they did when it was “Ten”. However, they were the last club to release their marketing materials and also didn’t set up a facebook page for students, instead opting to use their existing facebook page. As a result, all their advertising was being aimed at locals/non-students. They went for the students very aggressively…Aslan (2.5k) and 3 DJs , with no door charge and €3 drinks. After a short period it became clear that they were going to be the big losers in the student game, so they cancelled all the bands that they booked and put it down to experience. At least they can say the tried.
It takes a brave club to say, “No thanks – I’d rather leave my club closed then open it up to students.”
At the end of the night, when you’re counting your measly takings, picking up nagins of vodka, cleaning sick off the floor and breaking up fights on the street…then it really isn’t a crazy notion to consider not opening the next night.
The students are good for the town. Well good for Tesco and Landlords anyway…
I’m aware that this blog post has mainly been anti-student, so feel free to reply to the contrary in the comments below…
Til next time…