Hello there, my name is Alex. Nottingham University has like, 200 societies and the kids at Impact thought it would be a laugh if I went and tried some of them out and told you all what I think. Not sure if you want to pay that membership fee? Whether it’s BladeSoc or BlowSoc, I’ll be there interviewing the president, attending the socials and getting involved so you don’t have to. You bunch of ingrates.
Soc-umentary – A factual article about a society, presenting the facts with little or no fiction. As in, ‘Did you see that socumentary about Bellringing? That shit cray.’
Socumentary #1 – Hide and Soc
Where were you last Monday around ten o’ clock? Probably on your way to Oceana for a night of J-bombs, sticky carpets and ‘Gagnam Style’ weren’t you? Or maybe you were just beginning the hour long test of endurance that is the queue for Coco Tang? Potentially you just stayed in and watched re-runs of How I Met Your Mother with a Fortune Boy, whatevs; I was hiding in a cupboard in Portland.
Yes, that’s right I was at Hide and Soc, ‘The Society of Childhood Games’, where members convene every Monday outside Portland for a night of youthful exuberance and nostalgia. I arrived about ten minutes late (‘cause I’m cool… that’s cool right?) and there were already around 50 people amassed by the revolving doors outside the back entrance, all name tags and nervous excitement. Anyway, court was quickly brought to order by David Gradon: president and charismatic man of the people. In this picture he’s the one in the grey hoody everyone is looking at:
To say that David’s presence over the group verged on biblical would be hyperbolic, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he started handing out suspicious amounts of fish and bread as light pre-game snack. David briefed his disciples – sorry, society members – on the plan for the evening: a mass group game of hide and seek. Splitting into groups we dispersed into the Portland building, leaving one slightly put-out set of seekers to find us. I got to go with David because I asked nicely (and he was the only person I knew).
As a group of five we set off into Portland building: me, Shaq, David, Chris and Steve. Here’s a picture of us hiding in a lift:
Like a S.W.A.T. team we surveyed the area looking for potential nooks or crannies in which to secrete ourselves. David, as president, knew a good spot so we headed over to the Dance studio only to find it already occupied by a group crouched in the dark. At this point it was all feeling a bit apocalyptic, and somebody needed a wee so we hit up our next top-secret locale:
After our brief visit here, we stumbled across an unlocked store cupboard. It was hot and dark, but there were chairs so we decided it was the perfect place to settle down for a good bit of hiding.
It was only then, in that cramped, inexorably warm store cupboard, that the true nature of Hide and Soc made itself known. Yes, we were still playing hide and seek in Portland building, but we were also meeting new people in a way that pretty much guaranteed we’d have to get along. Even if these weren’t quite the kind of people I’d normally hang out with, it was impossible to ignore the strong bond of brotherhood brought about by discussing the finer qualities of hobnobs in a cupboard (all in whispered tones obvs).
Despite this, there’s only so long you can stay in a place like that before you get a bit bored, and, declaring our hiding place ‘too good’, we decided to head off again into Portland, newly bonded from our times in the cupboard.
It was then, whilst surveying the downstairs level, that we bumped into some fellow hiders who told us that they had ‘given up’ (booooo). Having berated them for some time, it transpired that they had also met up with the seekers and teamed up, and that we were now ‘found’ (BOOOOOO). It was basically a massive anti-climax to what had been up to that point a tense game. Demoralised, but not despondent, we agreed to join with the increasingly huge amount of seekers.
Like a mob we scoured the halls of Portland, picking up stragglers along the way.
Confused, lost and in need of direction, the congregation turned once again to David who quickly shifted all responsibility to the original seekers. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we didn’t find the last group and decided it would be beneficial if we called it a day and headed to tonight’s final destination:
I’m not sure if that last group of hiders actually got found, maybe they did or maybe they’re still in Portland somewhere, hiding behind some bins, IDK. Now was the time to commiserate and congratulate, to reflect on the evenings events. Remember when we tried to get into the Muslim prayer room? Or when we got stuck in the lift? Priceless.
I used the downtime to chat shit with Hide Soc’s very own Personal Jesus, President David Gradon:
So David, pretty good turn out tonight!
Yeah I was very impressed, it was startling. I just wish it had been more organised! We only had about 10 members on average last year.
Why do you think it was so popular?
I’m not sure, maybe they warmed to my emails? We’re quite a friendly society. To be honest it would be really good to get about 30 a week, but what with work pressure increasing during the term it’s hard to keep people coming.
Why did you want to become President?
It was always the same five people coming last year and I wanted to change that and make sure Hide and Soc realises its potential. We have 110 members signed up! It’s upsetting not to have more people turn up.
What kind of person comes to Hide and Soc?
People who don’t take themselves too seriously, who aren’t so fixed on that ‘university student’ attitude and want to conform. You could say we’re immature, or just trying to be ourselves and not what society wants us to be. I think a lot of people find it refreshing, a society not entirely based around drinking like a lot of other ones. There are other societies for that. In my freshers’ week I found myself going to a CU event just because it wasn’t a drinking society, I’m not even Christian! You shouldn’t have to join CU to a find a society which isn’t obsessed with drinking. I like to think at Hide and Soc we don’t exclude anyone.
How are you going to keep numbers up?
I just want to make everyone welcome and make sure they have fun. I don’t want them to feel like they’re being judged by people, which is one of the mistakes that last year’s committee made. They made things very awkward and potential members got scared away. That’s something I’m going to avoid. Ultimately people go to societies to make friends and this is just a very social society, you really get to know people you’re hiding with. It’s not supposed to be serious.
I know what you mean. Finally, what’s the best hiding place in Portland then?
Now, one of our rules is that you’re not allowed to go into the tunnel between Trent and Portland but under the stairs by the tunnel is allowed and that’s a really good spot.
It could be very easy to be judgemental about the people at Hide and Soc. Yes some of them were a bit awkward, and yes some of them maybe took the whole thing a little too seriously, but in a way Hide and Soc is the perfect place for them to meet like-minded people. One member summed her night up as a series of ‘nice conversations in small rooms’, which might be a more appropriate name for the society in many ways. There was a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere devoid of cliques and prejudices. It won’t be for some, but for those it speaks to, Hide and Soc could well be the best society you ever join at University.
HIDE AND SOC
Good: If you don’t take yourself too seriously and you always win at sardines at Christmas.
Bad: If you’re scared of the dark, small spaces and conversations about biscuits in small, dark places.