With the news of Atik Oxford’s closure, students are grappling with the loss of a cornerstone of the late-night entertainment scene. Since its inauguration in August 2015, ATIK, home to the iconic Park End event series has been a mainstay of sports nights, megabops, and those nights where you’re adamant you’ll be in bed by midnight, yet find yourself on the cheese floor at 02:35. But what does its closure mean for the incoming freshers of 2024? Will Oxford’s already infamous nightlife scene simply endure another blow, or will it spur innovative thinking and planning, ushering in a transformation of student entertainment? What will happen to the Park End Street venue and is it possible to get more Oxford than the club being turned into office space?

Why is Atik scheduled to close?

Atik announced its closure earlier last month, on the 6th April 2024 to club representatives, with the final event in the club scheduled for the 30th June, citing issues with landlords as its primary reason. A spokesperson from ATIK Oxford told The Blue : “the landlord has issued notice on ATIK Oxford via a break clause within the lease to develop the premises into offices. […] REKOM has looked at alternative venues in the city but there is nothing that can be done prior to the end of June. REKOM has always been aware of the lease but felt that Oxford planning policy protected the late night venue.” They further elaborated that, “We are extremely disappointed that as it stands, ATIK Oxford will close at the end of June, with a plan to redevelop Cantay House into offices. We have offered several solutions to the landlord that would allow ATIK to remain open and trading while planning applications for change of use and the redevelopment are underway. We continue to hope these will be given full consideration.” Currently there has been no further communication as to the success of relocating, leaving the future of events such as Park End hanging in the balance. Cantay Estates Ltd has been contacted but has not currently commented on the situation.  

How will the closure of Atik impact nightlife?

Entz reps from multiple colleges have discussed how they expect the planned closure of ATIK will impact Oxford’s nightlife. Two Entz Reps for next term from St Anne’s college stated that they believe “most students would consider ATIK as one of their favourite clubs and generally have a positive and fun experience there.” Reasons for this preference include the large capacity of the club and the option to choose from a variety of music facilitated by the multiple rooms and floors. Entz Reps have predicted that students will turn to other venues, listing Plush, Bridge, Spirit and Varsity Club, which will possibly help these venues but also create more crowding. Queen’s college Entz Reps have told the Blue that organised events such as bops “will have to take place at venues that are also big enough to host multi college events – most likely Bridge.” Freshers Week 2024 is likely to have “less club nights” due to more limited choice. Despite this, some may be less disappointed by the planned closure of ATIK due to more negative opinions. Some students have expressed that ATIK can become too pushy, hot and crowded at times, and spiking has been reported by students in night clubs across Oxford. There is also concern nationally for how closures of venues across the country will impact nightlife, an issue which has been covered within the last three months by national newspapers including the BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph

What about Park End?

As for Park End, an alternative location will have to be found to continue the Wednesday night event. A favourite for many students, its reputation unites students both past and present. An Oxford University student and regular attendee of Park End nights said: “Before I even got to Oxford as a fresher, I was told that Park End was the nightlife highlight. Even though it can be slightly too busy, it is always a fun night and will be missed by many a drunken student!” Whilst there is currently not a confirmed new location for Park End, on the 13th of April the official @parkendox Instagram page assured the public that “Park End will be working on a new home with further announcements to follow. We Will Fight For The Students Of Oxford Until The End.” Senior Park End Representatives confirmed again on the 21st of April that “Park End will be continuing as a student event brand at a new venue if ATIK closes.”

National Rekom club closures

While Oxford’s ATIK is scheduled to permanently close due to a decision by the landlord of the venue, 17 other clubs under the REKOM UK group (of which ATIK is a part) recently closed due to escalating operating costs and the influence of the cost of living crisis on students’ decision to spend money clubbing. University students from some of the cities affected by these closures suggest that they have had little negative impact on the nightlife. Perhaps providing a positive look to the future of Oxford nightlife, university students from Leeds, Nottingham and Plymouth have told the Blue that the impact of closures on nightlife in their cities was minimal, and instead, more people have frequented smaller and “independent bars and clubs”. 

It is likely that Oxford nightlife will suffer a more noticeable impact from closures than larger cities such as Leeds and Nottingham. Oxford had a smaller initial number of nightlife options available, therefore the loss of one club has a more significant impact on the variety of venues. Furthermore, the regular use of ATIK as a venue for Entz-team-organised events and nights aimed at students means that ATIK is a staple for students specifically, and will be missed.