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A time traveller's guide

Relive your student days with our guide to Nottingham nightlife
Connect Community A time traveller's guide

Come with us on a trip down memory lane to a time when pints cost 25p and a ticket to rock would set you back as little as two shillings, as we present the time traveller's map to Nottingham's nightlife, from 1189AD to the present day.

Words: Giselle Kennedy (English and American Studies, 2013)

Illustration: Abigail Burch

1. Palais de Danse AKA Ritzy, Oceana, PRYSM (1925 – today) 

The Palais de Danse has had more names than hot dinners but it has certainly stood the test of time. Over the years, it’s hosted tea dances, rock ‘n’ roll, night fever disco, northern soul, and plenty of cheese. Whatever your era, it’s a great place to strut your stuff on the rotating dance floor!

“I saw Buddy Rich big band at the Palais. That must have been in my first year in 68/69 and inspired me to take up drumming. I still play in a band.” (Ricki Scopes, Facebook)

2. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (1189 - today)

Journey back to 1189, and you’ll come across one of England’s oldest pubs. If it’s sandstone walls could talk, they’d tell you about the inn’s history as a brew house for Nottingham Castle and how the Crusaders used to stop by to quench their thirst. A rite of passage for all, this historical gem is a place when you can witness time standing still. According to rumour, it’s cobwebbed model of a galleon is haunted and to this day, no one dares to touch it!

“I remember my first day like it was yesterday: I was so nervous about being dropped off at my halls so my parents took me out for lunch at Ye Olde Trip. It became a tradition every term after that, right up until 4th year!” (ElsLaura8, Instagram)

3. Goose Fair (approx. 1284 - today)

From mushy peas and clouds of candy floss, to rip-roaring rides and the legendary ‘cock on a stick’, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of Goose Fair. Try hook-a-duck or the shooting gallery and you might leave the Fair with more than you came with, as Jackie Sinclair discovered:

“At the 1980 Goose Fair I won a goldfish, somehow got it back to Cavendish in one piece and named it Fothergill. One day it looked like it was on its way out so a friend decided to introduce some air into its water via his bike pump. Didn’t end well.”

4. Rock City (1980 - today)

Brace yourself for the mosh pit, it could get messy! A haven for rockers, metal heads, punks, goths, break dancers, electronic and grunge enthusiasts, Rock City was, and still is, the place for a dose of the alternative. Since opening in 1980, students have head-bopped across the smoky, sticky dance floor, forgetting all about lectures the next day.

“Rock City – Thursday Student night, Friday Rock night, Saturday Alternative night – oh year and fit lectures in there somewhere I guess.” (Bart Staunt, Facebook)

5. Savoy Cinema (1935 - today)

A third-date mecca, the art-deco Savoy cinema in Lenton has helped to spark more student relationships than any other place in Nottingham. Discounted student entry won’t leave you out of pocket, but the memories are priceless. Sit back in a sweetheart seat and enjoy the film.

“I watched a double bill at the Savoy in my final year (78/79) of Blazing Saddles and Monty Python and The Holy Grail for 50p. Happy Days.” (realraymondo56, Instagram)

6. The Irish AKA The I Club (1980s - today)

Down by Nottingham’s canal is the fondly remembered ‘the Irish’. This place was filled to the rafters in the 1980s and 1990s and you were guaranteed to get a decent pint for a reasonable price.

“To get into the Irish for free, it was possible to shin up the outside drainpipe that led into the first-floor gents’ toilets. You tumbled into the urinal as you squeezed through the window, but you’d have saved yourself 30p back in 1982. I can’t vouch for the drainpipe’s safety now though – it was a bit rickety back then to be honest.” (Brian James, Facebook)

Thank you to everyone who shared their memories with us!