At the first mention of Fluorescent Adolescent, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking of the Arctic Monkeys song. The aptly named club night promises an evening of indie tunes – the Monkeys, of course, are a given, as well as favourites old – the Smiths, Oasis, Razorlight – and new – Kasabian, the Vaccines, Blossoms – to mention just a small sample of what can be expected.
On Tuesday 23rd November, Fluorescent Adolescent will return to The Bullingdon, after, in their own words, “years in the nether-realm of Oxford nightlife”. Ordinarily taking place once a term, Fluorescent Adolescent has been on hiatus for the last year and a half. A firm favourite of students pre-pandemic, the event has, time and time again, been notoriously difficult to get tickets to. This Michaelmas has so far been no exception. So what is it about Fluorescent Adolescent that we can’t get enough of?
Founder Sebastian Monnet describes it as just “a really fun time”. I’m inclined to agree, having attended two or three of the nights in my earlier years at Oxford. There’s no denying the popularity of indie music, and yet – with the exceptions of “Mr Brightside” and “Chelsea Dagger” – it is perhaps not popular enough for Oxford’s biggest commercial nights. Monnet sees Fluorescent Adolescent as “a chance for people to sing along to bangers that everyone knows but aren’t played too often”. I can’t disagree with him; when was the last time you heard “Worried About Ray” on the Park End Cheese Floor?
Finding indie music underrepresented in the Oxford club scene (with the exception of the now-extinct club night, Don’t Believe The Hype), Monnet wrote to The Cellar (formerly of Frewin Court, off Cornmarket Street), which was then the main venue for small student-run club nights. After moderate success – it sold 105 tickets, enough to fill up the venue – the closure of The Cellar in 2019 forced the night to relocate. Bar one Fluorescent Adolescent at the recently closed-down Cirkus, Oxford’s most popular club night found its permanent home at The Bullingdon on Cowley Road.
A recent innovation to Fluorescent Adolescent is its partnership with the Oxford Recording Society (ORS). Having now graduated, Monnet felt it very important that the night stayed deeply connected to the student community. Legitimately passionate about student involvement in music, Monnet found natural partners with ORS. Jake Lawson, the founder and current president of ORS, describes the society as trying to recreate a mini-music industry in Oxford, distinct from the more jazz and classical tastes which tend to dominate the student music scene.
Excited by their involvement with Fluorescent Adolescent, ORS hope to expand their impact on Oxford nightlife with further club nights. I’m excited by the prospect, not least because of my own difficulty in securing a ticket (with all the early releases selling out almost instantly!). Can we, then, expect more than one Fluorescent Adolescent per term? In a word, no. Part of its appeal, in Lawson’s opinion, is its novelty. As a staple of the Oxford club scene, it’s something to look forward to, and yet, with no real parallel within each term, it remains uniquely hyped. Could another club night become as popular with students? It’s ambitious, but I like Lawson’s optimism.
The fifth and final release of tickets to Fluorescent Adolescent will take place on Saturday 20th November, at 5pm. Set your alarms or face disappointment; this is not one to miss.