Societies form a large part of university life and the University of York is no exception. With over 180 societies to choose from, the University of York has one of the highest number of student societies in the country. Please note that this list is in no particular order, consists of my own opinions, and should not in any way deter you from trying out any of the other terrific societies that peak your interest. I have also not included any societies that have an affiliation with a particular faith or political party. So here we go with 9 student societies you need to know about at York!
1. Fetish Society (FetSoc)
Kicking off this list is one of the Universitie’s most controversial societies, the illustrious Fetish Society. Many of the inner workings of this “Special Interests” society are kept a secret and are known only by members who follow strict guidelines on just how much they can divulge about the group.
Having had the opportunity to perform with a band at a number of FetSoc events, I am privy to some of the things that go on at their socials but alas, I am sworn to secrecy. What I can say though is that FetSoc have no trouble putting on a great social and making sure they book the best entertainment around. Aside from fun socials, they also run regular workshops covering a whole range of kink.
Want to know more about what goes on in the depths of FetSoc? Sign up at the Freshers Fair but if you are expecting weekly orgies then you may end up being disappointed!
2. Gilbert & Sullivan Society (G&S York)
If you like groups that give every single member a chance to participate in their shows, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society may just be the group for you. The society puts on a number of showcases throughout the year, a large show in Spring, and compete in the International Gilbert and Sullivan competition in Harrogate each year.
G&S are well known for making sure that everybody who auditions for their shows gets to be involved in some capacity which is how a society should be. One of the best parts of G&S is the much talked about “crash”; an after-party held at a secret location which is only reviled once everybody has helped with the big get out after a show. Previous shows include Iolanthe, Princess Ida, Ruddigore and 24 hour productions of The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.
3. Jazz & Big Band Society (Big Band)
The Jazz & Big Band Society has been one of my favorite societies during my time as an undergraduate at the University of York and I have seen it transform from one of the worst groups I have ever performed with to currently being one of the best Big Bands in York, both in and outside of the University.
Under the musical direction of accomplished jazz pianist Vicente Magalhaes, the group now perform a massive range of music ranging from Big Band classics right through to more contemporary jazz including works by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – and that would be the exact same arrangements, not the easier kids band versions. In the past, the society have put on socials including trips to see acclaimed jazz musicians Dennis Rollins and Tete Mbambisa, weekly post rehearsal trips to V-Bar, and the annual “Big Band Eurovision Party”.
Shooting your friends with NERF guns; you can’t really ask for much more from University life. The HAZsoc started life as a small group of friends who liked NERF and had heard about other universities having societies that play large NERF games. The society run at least 5 large games a year, spanning a whole week for Humans VS Zombies, a multi player survival game where the human team try to survive being “killed” by the zombie team.
Assassins is another game where the goal is to “kill” your target whilst simultaneously trying to avoid being “killed” by an assassin who is in pursuit of you. Similar societies at other Universities across the country hold a year Varsity weekend where players can engage in inter-university NERF games and socialize with other NERF fans. The most recent varsity was a huge success with over 100 people in attendance.
5. Music Society (MusicSoc)
A common misconception about the University of York Music Society is that it is reserved for music students – but this is far from the case. MusicSoc offer a wide range of events for all students including a dedicated lunch time concert series in the magnificent Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall. Members of the society gain free entry to all of these concerts and even get the opportunity to apply to put on their own concert. Are you coming to University wondering how you are going to keep up your practice while in halls without having your neighbors banging on your wall?
Well the Music Society have four dedicated practice rooms that are available to book online and are available year round as well as a number of instruments that are available for members to use. While the society does sometimes feel that it caters more for fans of classical music with their committee being made up largely of music students, the networking capabilities of this large group can allow members to find other students who have similar tastes in music. Having been on the committee myself for around 16 months, I can assure you that MusicSoc will be able to cater to your needs and interests with many fantastic ideas in the works.
6. Real Ale Society
For readers of my first SOCIETY19 article, “12 Real Ale Pubs around the University of York”, it may come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Real Ale and that the Real Ale Society would certainly make its way onto this list.
The society organises regular pub crawls around some of the best Real Ale pubs in York, offer workshops on brewing your own beer and even loan out the equipment you need to brew your own beer. Should you choose to try out this fine society then you will certainly find out why the city of York is so well known for its beer!
7. Art Society (ArtSoc)
Do you have a passion for art? Ever fancied your hand life drawing? Or maybe you want to have your work displayed to other art fans such as yourself? If you answered yes to any of those questions then the University of York Art Society may be something you should have a look at. Some of the other activities on campus offer include trips to art galleries, socials and art themed volunteering activities such as getting to decorate some of the huge charity events on campus.
8. Literature Society (LitSoc)
LitSoc is without a doubt one of my favorite societies at the University of York. They run quite the plethora of events each week, ranging from themed balls to “out of office” style academic lectures and career events.
They also offer a whole range of other activities such as the termly “Poems and Pints” event, bar crawls and other social gatherings for those who do not want to drink. If having a drink and partying to some of the best live music the University of York has to offer is your thing, then attending one of LitSocs end of term balls is a must! This is one society that without a doubt knows how to throw a good party!
9. Band Society (BandSoc)
One of my most memorable parts of university life was getting my first university band together which is still going strong 3 years later! Several members of that band were found by scouting through BandSoc. BandSoc put on regular live music events featuring some of the best student bands the the University of York has to offer.
Whether you’re into funk, rock, grunge, metal, or anything in between, BandSoc will be able to help you find band mates, gigs and much more. The society also offers chances to get involved with the tech side of live music and offer training on their state of the art equipment and the chance to play the sound guy at their events.
So there you have some great societies to get you going once you arrive at the University of York, or if you are a continuing student looking for something new. Once again I would like to say that these are purely my opinions and I would encourage you to try out any of the fantastic societies that interest you.