A favourite with students and bright young things, Ballare is perhaps Cambridge's best-known club. If you want a loud, unpretentious night out this is the place for you.
Despite its prime city centre spot at the top of Lion Yard shopping centre, Ballare could be easily missed by someone who doesn’t know Cambridge. But if you happen to be walking through Petty Cury on a Friday or Saturday night you’re bound to hear the throbbing basslines spilling out of this popular club.
Since replacing the legendary Fifth Avenue club about five years ago, Ballare has created a more central dancefloor, improved the seating and even included a VIP area - although this is usually open to everyone.
It’s a fairly big club with three bars, a good-sized dancefloor and a massive smoking area that even features a barbecue on busy nights.
Inside, the dark lighting hides some pretty uninspired decor – but it’s exactly what you expect from a straightforward, unassuming club like this.
Perhaps more than most other clubs in Cambridge the crowd in Ballare really depends on the night, but the young and wild seem to dominate.
Fridays usually attract late teens who get to know each other better with the help of commercial R'n'B. If you're much over 25 don't bother going, unless you want to feel old and past it.
Student nights, of which there are many, attract chaps in chinos and deck shoes who are usually surrounded by a fan club of well-groomed girls. They host Rumboogie, voted the best student night in Cambridge in 2003, which is for students and their guests only.
Saturday nights attract a mainstream crowd and, unlike student nights when everyone's jumping around on the dancefloor with gay abandon, the main activities are posing and pulling.
Ballare is not the place to come for alternative music, but it's great if you want to party the night away to cheesy tunes.
They play booty-grinding R'n'B and commercial dance at the weekends, and there's a sprinkling of indie in the week, but for the most part the set list for their student nights is school disco classics.
So while you're desperately trying to find your friends among the thronging crowds, the DJ will more than likely stick on Let's Get Ready To Rumble by PJ and Duncan, which really helps matters.
Bon Jovi and the king of teen cheesy tunes - Chesney Hawkes - also get regular airplay.
Expect the usual basic nightclub fare – cheap wine, lager served in plastic pint cups for around £3 to £4, alcopops – and even a free bottle of sparkling wine if it’s your birthday.
The Last Word
It may not be the most attractive club in town, but Ballare offers straightforward, honest fun without breaking the bank.