Clubbing is an essential part of the (Corona-free) your time at university. Although – strangely enough – nightlife and culture (I guess you could call it culture?) was not something I actually looked at nor became aware until the run-up to Freshers, where various clubs start rolling out tickets and promotions to their events like there’s no tomorrow. Nobody can claim that Southampton is brimming with nightclubs but, being a moderately sized city, it means that the refined selection of clubs we do have are all relatively easy to get to and from.

Before we get into the main list, let’s go through some basic club etiquette and some top tips at maximising your enjoyment of any given night out. It’s important to speak up for yourself – say when you want to leave, if you feel uncomfortable, say you don’t (or do!) want to do something. Don’t put things in other peoples drinks, don’t touch people in an unwanted manner and look out for your friends. Wear comfortable shoes, make sure your phone is charged and don’t forget your ID!

Now, let’s break down the 10 best clubs in Southampton:

1. Sobar 

a largely undisputed favourite among all Southampton students, Sobar has it all. Convenient Portswood location? Check. Cheap drinks? Check. Simultaneously electric and sociable atmosphere? Check, check, check. The legend of Sobar Tuesdays lives up to the hype. There’s nothing better than rocking up, getting a round of QuadVods (arguably a Southampton delicacy and just as lethal as they sound) and talking to complete strangers all night in the smoking area. I once went on a cold Tuesday in February and bumped into pretty much everybody I had met since starting uni. Unbeatable and well-deserving of the top spot.

 Post night out takeaway spot: Chicoland or Charcoal Grill 

2. Jesters

Source: Southern Daily Echo

Perhaps this one is a little controversial but the secret to enjoying a Jesters night out is to keep your expectations low and lean into the awfulness of it all. This is a nightclub that has (rightfully) earned its place on the ‘Worst Night Clubs in the UK’ list as a result of its sticky walls and floors, four corners challenge, urine cup stacks and growth of mushrooms in the mens toilet. The cubicle in the mens has no door and there’s one in the ladies with two toilets in a single cubicle (a true bonding experience). Everything about Jesters is objectively grim, but the vibes are immaculate. Their playlist stands out from the other clubs – Baywatch at midnight tracks varying from 80s cheese, 90s RnB, nostalgic 00s and (yes) even the 2013 cringe that used to dominate your Spotify playlists. Plus, you can’t beat a Jesticle!

Post night out takeaway spot: Chicoland or Charcoal Grill

3. Oceana 

Despite the seemingly endless trek from almost every student accommodation in the city (with the exception of Mayflower), Oceana still ranks pretty highly. You know what to expect from a night at Oceana: pres at home (because the drinks there are expensive), fill a plastic water bottle with an alcoholic drink of your choice to drink on the bus ride there, get off the bus and trek over Central Station, over the retail carpark and past IKEA, queue and complain about the cold, have the bouncers decide your fate (aka how drunk you are), queue up for the cloakroom, inevitably go to the toilet as soon as humanely possible, buy one expensive drink, dance the night away then get McDonald’s on the way home. A simple yet very effective standard night out in Southampton formula!

Post night out takeaway spot: McDonald’s

4. Switch 

Switch Southampton
Source: Southern Echo

Switch ranks last out of the four big Southampton clubs. The music, while good enough, doesn’t cater to everyone as much as Sobar, Jesters and Oceana however the mezzanine layout of the main floor is really cool to look down on when you’re waiting (ages!) to get your coat in the cloakroom and watch the confetti and inflatable rain down on everyone below. However, Switch does come with the usual safety warnings (which you should always, always be wary of) even more so than the other clubs. One of my most memorable Switch experiences was when me and my friend were queueing in the ladies bathroom, and a very, very drunk man stumbles in, unzips his trousers and takes a leak in the corner!

Post night out takeaway spot: Subway

5. Stags 

Stags Southampton
Source: Facebook, The Stags

The Highfield Campus bar is popular for more calm, laidback night out which makes it excellent for meeting new people and socialising. It’s always difficult to find somewhere to sit (a testament to its popularity), so you end up sitting next to complete strangers and talking to them all night. Karaoke on a Thursday has an amazing environment, everyone singing along, drinks in hand before stumbling the conveniently short walk back to Portswood and the various Freshers accommodations.

Post night out takeaway spot: Wessex Lane McDonalds or Star Pizza

6. The Edge 

The Edge

The Edge is proud to be Southampton’s only LGBT+ club. Nearer to Solent University and connected to the Box Bar, the drinks and cocktails are cheap and tasty, the music and karaoke are excellent, and the vibe is really welcoming and non-judgemental. With different rooms for different music and staff who are vigilant to create a safe environment for everyone, the Edge is an absolute asset to the Southampton club scene

Post night out takeaway spot: Pizza 4 U or Sal’s Kebab & Pizza

7. The Orange Rooms 

Orange Rooms
Source: Orange Rooms

This 70s inspired cocktail lounge is tucked away in Bedford Place. Entry to the Orange Rooms is free before 11 pm, and the deals on drinks are unbeatable. When it comes to cocktails, the Orange Rooms is far, and away the best club for them in Southampton with excellent two for one offers and bottomless cocktail hours.

 Post night out takeaway spot: Subway

8. Cafe Parfait

Cafe Parfait
Source: Fatsoma

You probably know Cafe Parfait from the free packs of playing cards they gave out around Freshers. Some nights, the club is only open to over 21s meaning that you have to do your research before trying to get in. The bathrooms are very new and very clean, but it is probably a bit too expensive to regularly visit as a student,—definitely a night out for a more acquired taste.

 Post night out takeaway spot: Subway 

9. Popworld 

Source: Popworld

If you’ve never heard of Popworld, don’t worry. Hidden away somewhere around Bedford Place and Archers’ Road, it’s not exactly something you’d pass and think ‘huh, maybe we should try that sometime!’. I’d never heard anybody talk about it before and never even knew there was a Southampton chapter of the Popworld franchise but I did once see a flyer for a One Direction themed night which, as far as I’m concerned, sealed its fate. Each to their own, I guess! 

Post night out takeaway spot: Probably another Subway (Southampton is full of them) 

10. The Cube 

The Uni of Southampton ‘club’ in the basement of the Student Union. Everyone went for the Welcome Party on their first night, had a couple of cheap drinks, spoke to some new people then went home and never returned again. Nobody really wants to go clubbing on campus, it’s mixing business with pleasure.

 Post night out takeaway spot: Wessex Lane McDonalds or Star Pizza

If you’ve spent more than a week in Southampton, chances are you’ve been to or at least heard about the Big Four. These are everybody’s go-to for nights out, but that certainly doesn’t mean that everywhere else isn’t as good. At the end of the day (or night, in this case), you have to try everything to know what you like the best!