At this point, the Waterfront is essentially synonymous with Norwich. Opening in 1990, and being taken over by the SU in 1993, it has since become a staple of the music scene not only in Norwich, but East Anglia in general.
Some of the biggest names in the alternative music scene have graced its sticky walls – Nirvana in 1990, Radiohead in 1995, Arctic Monkeys in 2005, Amy Winehouse in 2006. The walls of the staff office upstairs are plastered with posters of bands that have been and gone, signed with messages of admiration and gratitude. The singer of Basement, performing at the venue in 2016, said that he considered the Waterfront a hometown show, despite being from Ipswich, because of the number of times he went in his youth.
It is, perhaps, known better to students as the home of Propaganda, the self-branded “rock and roll party” that sees 25,000 drunk indie kids attend weekly across the world, and of Meltdown, Propaganda’s younger, less cool brother. Though they’re a little out of the city centre, these events provide a safe haven for people who are sick of clubs still playing Despacito. They have a VIP room that’s not really a VIP room, a smoking area that, when fully opened, trumps any other smoking area I’ve been in. I think they have a Pringles vending machine although I may have imagined that.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. On more than one occasion, the £10 minimum card limit has got the best of me, resulting in the purchase of three doubles at a time, downing one of them then putting the other two into a pint glass, thinking that I’ve beaten the system and then throwing up behind my friend’s shed. But it beats paying the charge to use the cash machine. Kind of. With a capacity of around a thousand, the toilet situation can get pretty dire – in terms of the queue, but also in terms of general grossness. But that’s just the price you pay for getting to relive your emo days every weekend.
Outside the Book Hive is a sign with a quote from Stephen Fry that says that it is the kind of place he dreamed about when he was growing up. And when I’m inevitably as rich and famous as he is, there’ll be a sign outside the Waterfront that says the same.