The beloved Club 601 closed its doors for the foreseeable future at the end of second semester in 2023, and the naked truth is that St. Andrews nightlife has never recovered. Entering our town, we first pass the Student Union to see our former haven covered by barriers and signs signalling that 601 is ‘temporarily closed’. While researching this article, it is obvious that the closure of 601 is a big deal for the Union; there is a whole webpage full of information surrounding the closure, presented as a written apology. Additionally, over the summer we were often reminded of the grievance we were soon to return to when coming back to St Andrews. The closure is a result of the concrete that the roof had been built from, that after many years has become a danger to the safety of drunk freshers and football boys. Despite stating their apologies – condolences would be much more appreciated – the Union ensures and promises that ‘as little of an effect is felt as possible’ and announces that all of 601’s events will be held in Main Bar.
Main Bar. What can I say about Main Bar? While 601 was still prosperous, Main Bar was its sidekick, a place where one went to order a drink quicker or have the inevitable drunken heart-to-heart of the evening. It was the purgatory between the entrance and 601 itself, yet now it has been promoted to being the central venue of all Union events including much of the Freshers’ Week programming, Sinners, and the infamous Friday night BOPs. There are many opinions regarding Main Bar’s new status. Some Union-goers appreciate that the events have been kept almost entirely identical, continuing their themed music and drinks that are priced fairly for students. Yet, the Main Bar is no longer an adequate centre for St Andrews nightlife, with considerably less space to embarrass ourselves while ‘doing the rainbow’ of glorious multi-coloured Pablos. We are packed like sardines into the bar, unless you are lucky enough to claim a booth – which horribly resembles trying to find a seat in the library. The ambience is much less relaxed, as the ceiling lights remain on and the music is barely distinguishable from the volume level in the space. And even then, after the first two hours of the event, the music has often diverged from the night’s theme. To claim that the effect of 601’s closure would not be felt is a shocking misjudgement, as of now the Union is no longer the hotspot for nights out but used more like a pub for pre-gaming – due to its pricing and location – before going somewhere else in town.
For all of those first-year readers who have heard the story and myth of 601, I admittedly feel sorry for those who never experienced the glory days. Despite being acutely aware that 601 could barely be called a nightclub, especially for those who have moved here from larger cities, it was the place to be on a Wednesday and Friday night. For a few intoxicated hours 601 was the place where we all came together in darkness regardless of year, course, or interests. For many Freshers, 601 was one of their first nights out where they could drink and was even more significant for those who were not yet eighteen but allowed in the union to enjoy the night out with their friends (with an underage wristband, of course). 601 was a place to experience new things and celebrate our obscure and unique community here in St. Andrews.
Now that 601 is in the grave and Main Bar is often a disappointment, we have had to be creative and look in other places for nightly entertainment. Because of this, many other venues in our small town are able to take advantage and benefit. The Vic has definitely stepped up to the mark, standing right across from the Union and now hosting club nights almost every night of the week. Here you will find all of the old characters from 601 that I’m sure have particularly funny stories related to you and your friends. And although excessively busy, Thursday Throwbacks have been a massive hit this semester – just hope you don’t have to queue for the toilets. The Rule is also busier than ever, hosting sports socials and broadcasting major football and rugby games. Pub crawls seem to be all the rage too, with over 10 pubs in our town to make your alcoholic pilgrimages. And of course, Forgan’s Ceilidh, must not be forgotten with its Saturday-night celebration of Scottish culture. Everywhere else in town seems to have pulled through and provided us students with more events to have fun and experiment with. Although many of these existed alongside 601, they have now been revitalised as the stars of nightlife in St Andrews. So, although I truly do wish you the best for when we are able to dance and drink a Pablo in 601 again when it reopens after next summer, I strongly encourage you to appreciate and try out everything else our town has to offer.