What other proper way is there to spend a Thursday evening than rocking up to Jazz Night for some live music and a pint? As a hub for many students, and a way to brush away the deadline blues, the regular weekday evenings have become a great place to unwind. This Thursday, however, the Union’s Jazz Night in the Main Bar collaborated with the Campaign for Affordable Student Housing (CASH) to raise awareness for the housing crisis in St Andrews.
Whether you’re new to renditions of Aretha Franklin, or seem to know the tunes like the back of your hand, Thursday evenings at the Union can be safely relied upon for their relaxing and vibrant atmosphere. A contrast to the following day’s Friday Bops, this space for gentle conversation and sophisticated foot tapping is enjoyed by many students and offers live music for no cost at all.
For many, Jazz Night is a new discovery each week, a place to meet new people or catch up with familiar faces. Annabel, who herself is involved in the St Andrews music scene within the community orchestra, said she loved ‘meeting locals and finding friendships’ and that jazz night ‘lets you momentarily forget exam stress’. Michael, also a regular jazz night goer, says ‘it’s the perfect night out, with good vibes, booze and some grooves.’ For many, then, these regular musical events are another way to bring the university together.
I spoke to two drummers, Leon and Matt, who are both second year Mathematics students. They’ve both been playing for over eleven years, and are happy to have found a warm and inviting place where they can carry on developing their skills to a keen audience. Whilst Matt has played drums before for Rock Night and in the string foundation, he said Jazz Night was more interesting and more inclusive for everyone. Leon backed up this feeling of communal warmth, saying that it’s a night where ‘everyone’s invited to play’ and there’s no wall between the players and listeners. Both drummers loved the spontaneity of jazz, and the lack of rigidity when it comes to practicing.
Jazz Nights, as a community, attracts students from all backgrounds. Indeed, the players themselves study a range of subjects from Chemistry, Classics and English. It is the range of diversity and interests here which CASH picked up on during Week Nine’s collaboration with Jazz Night.
CASH is the Campaign for Affordable Student Housing in St Andrews, which encourages the university to ‘provide real solutions to the housing crisis’. Worsened by the cost of living crisis, the housing situation has become dire for many students, staff and locals in the town, forcing some to commute from other places or worry even more about stocking up rent.
The spokesperson for CASH, Emil, stated how ‘given the multifaceted crisis we face, from lack of housing, extortionate energy costs and inflation rising to nearly 10%, CASH is demanding the University helps its students.’ The student-led organisation has started many projects to help students voice their concerns, and, more importantly, act to support them. Some such actions have been starting Food4Students (which can be found on CASH’s Facebook) and working with St Andrews Student Solidarity Network.
Keeping students up to date and in the loop with the situation in St Andrews is also another thing which CASH aims to do. The organisation aims to highlight where students can go to get financial help, and acting as a place to facilitate it. They inform students of things such as the energy bill support scheme, tenants rights, and the cost of living crisis. Jazz Night is therefore a great place to relay these sorts of information, under, of course, Sinatra’s symphonies of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’.
In collaborating with societies and events such as Jazz Night, CASH is further able to raise awareness of the housing crisis, whilst also allowing for a conversation amongst students. On the night, Emil said that whilst ‘students deserve to have a night where they can forget their stresses, we also believe we should be able to have a platform to share what ways we can help each other and to make more people aware of the crisis we face.’
It is places like this, Jazz Night, where students can voice their concerns amongst one another, and, with the help of CASH, engage in positive action. So swing by on a Thursday evening to enjoy the usual Jazz Night tunes of Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and more!