Most incoming McGill students know about the rites of passage that they’ll experience, like living alone for the first time or a late night at McLennan cramming for an exam. What these students don’t know is that, at this university, there is another experience considered equally formative: Their first trip to Café Campus.
The 56-year-old club, known to most as ‘Café,’ is one of the most popular dance venues for McGill students. As a stop on Frosh bar crawls, students are introduced to Café Campus before they meet their professors—and the visits only go up from there. Its proximity to campus and themed music nights, like ‘Retro Tuesdays,’ have proven to be big draws for McGillians. Café isn’t just a freshman spot, either—it also hosts a number of McGill-affiliated events, like the Management Undergraduate Society’s Winter Carnival or the Engineering Undergraduate Society’s E-Week.
Sofia Gobin, U0 Arts, was one of many McGill students who visited the club during Frosh week. Her introduction to the club as a McGill venue has kept her coming back so many times that she’s lost count.
“I’ve been to Café countless times,” Gobin said. When pressed on why, she responded: “Just because it has the reputation of being a student club and a lot of first-years, in particular, go there on nights out […] [it] was definitely a bit different because we were just playing games in the main area, but I think the fact that it was introduced so early on made it seem like it was a ‘McGill club.’”
So the club is considered a quintessential part of the McGill experience. Andrea Goldstein, U0 Arts, thinks the music nights and its prime location are the main reasons.
“It’s so close to all of us, which makes it such an easy walk,” she explained. “I [also] think Café is so popular among students because everyone is looking to go where their friends are going, so it gets really busy on certain nights, like [2000s] nights on Thursday.”
Since so many McGill students visit the club, club-goers will often be among friends, creating a unique sense of community. Harry Brar, U0 Management, remembers that other McGill students helped him out during his first visit to the club.
“During my first time at Café, I lost my phone there,” Brar said. “But everyone helped me find it, which was awesome.”
The McGill community gathers at Café in the same way as they gather in McLennan during exam season, making the club a hotspot for students.
Although many students seem to agree that Café is not a main component of McGill life, its wide variety of drink options, proximity to campus, and multiple dance floors make it a must-visit.
“It’s not essential to a student’s life at McGill in general, but you need to go at least once for the experience,” Goldstein said. “I’m not sure how many times I’ve been, maybe four-ish?”
Gobin agrees, saying that McGillians “must go at least a couple of times. At least to give it a try.”
It seems that what makes Café so quintessential to McGill’s student life is its consistency.
“I don’t think that it’s a vital component of McGill student life, but with that said, Café is always a good time,” Brar said.
According to Gobin, along with many other students, there is no doubt that the club is a sort of McGill trademark.
“It’s just kind of iconic, it’s exactly what you expect,” she said. “It’s never going to be horrible; it’s never going to be especially incredible or amazing […] it’s reliable.”