Photo: Switch

Switching it up: Leamington’s biggest club night

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If you didn’t know about Switch when you started at Warwick, chances are you do now.

A student-run dance music night in Leamington’s largest venue, The Assembly, Switch has – since its first event back in February 2014 – consistently offered both the best DJs on the British circuit, and a clubber-driven social experience to which no other Warwick Uni night offers fair comparison. The events – less frequent and larger scale than those staple nights in the average Warwick student’s weekly nightlife calendar at Smack, Neon, Kasbah or the SU – have provided me and a hugely diverse selection of my friends with our best experiences of university culture after dark. I’ve found that people from all courses and residential areas will talk about Switch nights for many days afterwards (me and my mates still reminisce about our “first Switch” to this day), and quickly replace this nostalgia with a rare sense of excitement for the next one when the Facebook event goes live.

As much satisfaction as I feel managing to wrestle a space under the fan downstairs in Smack for two minutes just as ‘Hot Nigga’ comes on, and as comical as it is to get your least extroverted friend battered on purple at Pop!, I don’t feel like any other locally held clubnights geared towards Warwick students have managed to evoke that “special occasion” type buzz, or inspire the devoted, repeat attendance culture that Switch currently enjoys.

People from all courses and residential areas talk about Switch nights for many days afterwards, with a rare sense of excitement for the next one

Many students and club promoters give this sort of success their best shot; events seem to come and go like the wind (remember Flirt, anyone?). So what is it about the vision behind Switch and its execution that have made it such a success? The men to ask were Joshua and Danny: two key players in the entirely student-composed team that started the brand almost two years ago. “We didn’t feel like there was anything representing us,” says Danny, of the dance music scene in Leamington prior to Switch’s birth; “There were a lot of good house parties happening at the time, but nothing in clubs which catered to our tastes.”

“There was a night called Jackers’ Delight in Moo Bar that we really enjoyed,” remembers Josh, “but that came to an end and we felt there was a gap in the market for a night like ours.” Switch, of course, takes place on a far larger scale than Jackers’ did: the Assembly is a 1,000-capacity gig venue that has seen acts as big as Peace, Jungle and De La Soul play there recently, while the “bar” invariably attached in reference to Smack-owned Moo says everything about its comparatively modest size. “The guys at the Assembly have always been really helpful to us,” Josh says; “Our venue is one of our USPs; it’s definitely been a big factor in our success.”

I’d have to agree that a lot of what makes Switch special is where it’s held and the vibe it promotes. It hardly needs mentioning that the quality of the bookings – which match those made by the hottest venues in virtually any larger student city – bears essential influence upon Switch’s reputation, not to mention the ticket pricing (which is as cheap as you’ll ever pay to see the likes of Preditah, Monki and Zinc). But what – at least to my mind – gives Switch the real edge over comparable nights out at more expensive, further-afield venues (like Birmingham’s Rainbow) is the ease with which time out from the dancefloor can be taken, whether it’s to mingle at the bar, sink with a mate into a sofa for a deep emotional chat, or to marvel at the laser-like visuals from the comfort of the carpeted balcony area. Big room events rarely feel as relaxed, and small room events – like Cut at Smack – never offer the same space to dance, or even to breathe.

A lot of what makes Switch special is where it’s held and the vibe it promotes

“We’re always looking for ways to improve,” says Danny of future plans for Switch. Given the effectiveness with which he and the rest of the team have listened and catered to the clubbing demands of their clientele so far, it’s hard to imagine prospects for the night and the brand being anything but bright. As much a favourite with DJs as it is with punters, it feels like Switch is doing more than something right.

If you’ve never gone to Switch before, I can’t stress to you enough (from extensive personal experience) how worth your £6 it is. Warwick’s not Manchester or Leeds – I can’t imagine anyone comes to study here with the nightlife in mind – but, thanks to Switch, it genuinely feels well beyond possible to enjoy pioneering music in Leamington Spa, and to be a part of something special, organised entirely from within the student scene. See you at the next one, yeah?

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