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Life Divided: May Day or Nay Day?

May day: Daanial Issaq Chaudhry

As a Fresher, never before have I experienced so much anticipation and excitement surrounding May Day. Until my arrival in Oxford, May Day appeared to be no more than an extra bank holiday, another day of precious escape from school. But beyond this it had little to no significance in my social calendar.

My arrival at Oxford changed this all. Before I knew it, deliberations had begun as to what club night to go to on May Day. Was a venture to Cowley warranted for the May Day Party at the Bully? Or should we brave Disco Stus vs Big Poppa at Emporium? The latter mostly because tickets at the Bully had sold out by the time we realised May Day was a thing. One of my friends decided it was to be neither: “I’d much rather stay in”.

She along with those readers in favour of Nay Day have missed the point. May Day as a celebration, arbitrary thought it may be, is an opportunity to unite us in a collective aim: to have a good night out. This is something that the regularity of Bridge Thursday or Fuzzys on a Wednesday fails to do. The frequency of these club nights means the likelihood of FOMO is diminished as you know you can just go next week. May Day however comes just once a year, and as such everyone is united in a common goal.

The ability of May Day to unify us is demonstrated by the fact that on Sunday night, in the library, as my friends and I worked into the early hours of the morning, we all listened through our own headphones to the same Not Nineteen Forever songs. Yes, both the Bully and Emporium were a no, and for the first time since arriving at Oxford, we had willingly decided to go to Fever. Although we were each writing (waffling) our own essays, we were united through the music of the night to come.

Beyond the club nights, waking up for six in the morning is something not many of us (unless you row) can say we’ve done whilst at Oxford. But on May Day, the culmination of students on Magdalen Bridge unites not only us, but also town and gown. May Day appears a true opportunity for the city to come together in celebration. It may appear anachronistic in the modern age – a product of a bygone era – but it is these oddities that make Oxford so special, and it is for that very reason we should celebrate them.

Nay Day: Alex Jacobs

It would be a surprise if you’d come back to Oxford and not already heard people talking about their plans for one of the most famous celebrations in the town. As well as being a city-wide tradition, May Day is possibly the biggest club night of Trinity term (which for Oxford isn’t exactly much of an accolade even if there weren’t any exams going on). Given the fact that so many of us bemoan Oxford’s lack of decent nightlife on a regular basis, it’s somewhat surprising that this event manages to gather such a following, with the biggest club tickets selling out more quickly than some of the college balls this year.

Perhaps it’s because May Day embraces the hedonistic side of Oxford, the side that’s so physically exhausted and emotionally burnt out from the strenuousness of term that the closest you can get to having a good time is pinging off your nut in the middle of a heaving crowd at the Bully. Advocates for the yearly celebration may argue that it’s all in the name of good fun, especially for the outgoing year group, and May Day is a traditional event aimed to bring the citizens of Oxford together. I can see the appeal of a last gasp at freedom for finalists, acutely aware that their time at Oxford is drawing ever closer to ending.

But for me, ‘traditional’ does not necessarily equal ‘good’ or even ‘worthwhile’. After five terms at Oxford, during term time I barely have the stamina for your average night out until three or four in the morning, never mind ten straight hours of Mayday partying (god forbid there’s an after party going on). It’s been a while since I’ve seen the clock say 6am, and Magdalen choir are not enough of a reason to persuade me to give up the few precious hours of sleep I can get.

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