Goodbye, Cindies

How do you say Goodbye to that which you do not know, and that which you will not get to know? Do you say Hello? If the loss is communal, why is it then that the loss feels personal? Is it because I have lost the opportunity to discover your ways? I can’t explain why it is that I feel the way I am feeling, so I wrote a letter.

Dear Cindies,

As with most of my knowledge about the University of Cambridge, and Cambridge culture in general, my first brush with you was in one of Jake Wright’s vlogs. I remember watching vlogs in Grade 12 and learning about Revs, Life, Spoon’s, and you – and for whatever reason, my brain didn’t let go of that information. Not then, when I elected to apply to Oxford, and nor when I was applying to study here as a postgraduate student. It’s why coming here felt surreal. I was suddenly in places I recognized from YouTube videos and short films, from folklore and history, and that felt wonderful.

Cindies, the first and only question I had for you was, what are you? I couldn’t find you anywhere on the map (as with Life), and it was then I realized that you were steeped in time, left stuck in an era where you were not Ballare, but Cinderella Rockerfella’s. Boy, what I would do to see you in that avatar. Or any avatar really. As I discovered during my undergraduate study, I am not a very club-party type of person. However, as I learned as a school student I am very much a human being that enjoys music, and loves meeting new people. It hurts, deeply, to learn that you were a place that facilitated both, whether through the smoking area, the lack of washroom access, or on the dance floor. That shared, lived experience appears to have united this city. I will now get none of it, and that, dear Cindies, makes me very sad.

After arriving in Cambridge, I threw myself into Cambridge magazines and facebook pages. The Tab had this lovely quiz on which Cambridge night-out I was, and despite knowing I was likely a night out at Market Square eating from Trailer of Life, or waiting in the Pret queue, I learned I was Wednesday Cindies. You may infer from that what you would like, but this result was meaningless to me till I discovered this wonderful Wednesday Cindies playlist on Spotify.

That discovery has led to a lot of self-reflection and inquiry. The Tab’s quiz was not necessarily designed with the scientific process in mind, but truly, this time, it felt like they got me right, spot on. At my core, I am a nostalgic human being that looks at History with rose-tinted glasses. On Wednesdays, you appear to have been an embodiment of that, which makes your closure even harder to bear.

If you’ve reached this far, you’re likely asking: but Tejas, you’ve been here seven weeks, why didn’t you visit for a socially-distanced evening earlier? I do not have an answer that does not sound like an excuse, but put simply, you were not at the top of my Things to explore in Cambridge list. That is a shocking answer, and you may be quickly drawn into resentment, but I urge you to read on, for Cindies, you were on the list. You were just slotted away for when I felt I had settled in sufficiently to accept that the work wouldn’t get done anyway so a night out would be of zero-harm. As a postgraduate fresher, but a fresher nonetheless, I have not settled in to this level as yet. Consequently, I reserved you for mid-way through Lent. Far enough for me to feel at home, close enough for me to smell you – whatever your smells are.

For a place that seems to adore its legacy, from the limited information we the public have been given, Cambridge appears to be ripping a piece of that legacy’s soul away from itself. This may be symbolic of several things: capitalism, a rift between town-and-gown (to quote the 1900’s), and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local business and the hospitality industry at large. This conscious uncoupling, whatever the circumstances, feels rough. It is personal, insofar as I will not get to experience you, but more so because as a student of the University, I felt attached to your existence. Knowing you were there felt like sufficient evidence of the statement Cambridge has an active nightlife. Knowing you are gone means I cannot claim that sentiment anymore, despite the existence of other clubs.

We may find another place, another room to blare out the Wednesday Cindies playlist. I may listen to it alone sitting in my room wearing pyjamas. Even with strobe lights however, these places will never replicate the atmosphere of that corner in the Grand Arcade (or Lionyard, pick your poison).

With this, and with the knowledge that people have Camfessed they would transfer if you shut, I say goodbye. Having written all of this, I am still uncertain whether I am saying goodbye to the ground upon which you were built, or to the people that made you who you were. Thus, I personify you, and say goodbye to the spirit I felt destined to meet and feel robbed of completely.

Thank you for existing, Cindies, and for making me feel more strongly about my desire to cherish more of the Things to explore in Cambridge list I built while waiting to relocate here.

Somebody else will miss you. Unfortunately, I just missed out.

Love,

Tejas