Everyone reading this is probably a bright young spark and therefore realises coronavirus is still about. There is no other word but ‘pain’ to capture the emotion felt at having Leeds’ club nights robbed from you. Normally, an artistic and cultural experience for a Fresher is discovering how many different types of strobe lights one city can have.
It just so happens, however, that culture lives inside your sub-par accommodation room. Inevitably, this year’s students will be spending more time in their room than in previous years, alone with posters badly blu-tacked to the wall and the muffled music of your flatmates. For those looking to still engage with cultural experiences and feel connected to a city you mostly see from the kitchen window, here are some suggestions.
In an era of apathy, now’s the time to learn. In the 1960s, rebellion was long hair. In the 2020s, rebellion is long reading and watch lists which include artists from underrepresented communities. As I’m sure everyone posted on their Instagram stories, civil liberty and equality aren’t fads and momentum is always needed. From those stuffy four walls, you can easily become a conscious consumer of television, film and books by diversifying the content you interact with. A multitude of recommendations are to be found. The Gryphon itself has compiled a few lists of BAME-produced content to pay attention to.
Have you ever tiptoed around the edge of a subculture and pulled yourself back from the precipice to avoid falling in? There’s that one soul song or anime episode that replays in our heads as we go to sleep. I say deep-dive. Drown in all a subculture has to offer and end up trying to crawl out of five-hour-long YouTube holes. Not only will you become a fountain of pop culture knowledge, you’ll probably end up winning a pub quiz or two – and that’s a true aphrodisiac.
If culture were to thrive in your sub-par accommodation, it has to look the part. There’s a lot to be said for creating a space you want to be in and isn’t depression-inducing. Fairy lights and polaroids aren’t strictly the only decorative items that don’t break tenancy agreements, so get creative. It will kill a day or two, at least.
Remember that high you got in March from going out for your daily walk? You can stiff ride that in your new city! Leeds genuinely has a lot of hidden treasures that you can find out on a walk: Kirkstall Nature Reserve, Kirkstall Abbey and the canalside are to name but a few. If you want to turn the walk into a drinking game with your new bubble, take a sip every time you see a can or a small clear bag on the ground – you’ll be drunk soon enough.
Many independent artistic groups and collectives are supported and bolstered in Leeds, all of which are well worth becoming familiar with. You can tune into Sable Radio, pop down to Hyde Park Picture House, buy a new plant at Heart in Headingley or attend one of Hyde Park Book Club’s various online events. I realise that a few of those suggestions require you leaving the room you just beautifully decorated, so if you don’t want to go outside, just imagine doing them.
The truth is it that this year is going to be strange, and there is no normal way for you to cope with this, but hopefully this offers reassurance that whether it’s safer to stay inside, or you want to venture out, there is still loads to do.
Image Credit: The Emerald Dome