AAA Pass 2015 vs. SUSU’s Master Pass: Southampton Freshers’ Fortnight


Let’s get straight to the point here: Anyone purchasing SUSU’s (University of Southampton Students’ Union) Master Pass for Freshers’ Fortnight 2015 while Southampton Solent SU’s AAA Pass 2015 is available would have to be completely insane. Priced at £80, SUSU’s Master Pass offers just a fraction of the value offered by the AAA Pass, which is on sale for just £60 and truly lives up to its name: Access All Areas.

Incidentally, you don’t have to be joining Southampton Solent university this year to take advantage of what the AAA Pass has to offer: The package is available to purchase for returning students too. In fact, anyone can purchase it. So if, like us, you think that SUSU’s Freshers’ Fortnight offerings for this year are a complete shambles then go right ahead and purchase an AAA Pass. Then you can enjoy your first couple (or returning couple) of weeks at university in the full knowledge that you are getting real value for your money.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a £60 AAA Pass buys you significantly more than an £80 Master Pass. Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to AAA’s dominance is that it includes entry to Southampton Soundclash, a fully-fledged one-day dance music festival. Tickets for Southampton Soundclash are priced at £30-£40 so with an AAA Pass you are well on your way to getting your money’s worth after just one event.

There are a few standard Freshers’ events that crop of every year. True to style, both the AAA Pass and the Master Pass include the usual welcome parties on moving in weekend, a Freshers’ Ball, a foam party, multi-venue bar crawls, and entry to a couple of the biggest student clubnights in town.

Welcome Parties
Bar Crawls
Foam Party
Freshers’ Ball
Student Clubnights
Displayed in a table like that, everything seems par for the course but if you look at the details for each event I would argue that the AAA Pass comes out on top again. For the welcome parties, foam parties, bar crawls, and student clubnights there’s not much to say: While the venues may be different, what’s on offer is pretty similar aside from a few themed events here and there.

For these standard events, what really tips the balance in the AAA Pass’ favour is its Freshers’ Ball offering. The Solent SU Freshers’ Ball (taking place at Oceana and hosted by Club MTV) will feature headline sets from Blonde, Danny Howard, Lethal Bizzle, Stormzy, Preditah, and Bonkaz. They’ll also have a silent disco, food stalls, and a fun fair complete with bumper cars and thrill rides. Meanwhile, the SUSU Freshers’ Ball will also feature Danny Howard and a silent disco, alongside Duke (?), token DJ celebrity appearances from the Game of Thrones cast, and the “runner up” from Britain’s Got Talent. They will have a myriad of circus acts and we don’t doubt that the venue will look impressive but the whole event really does pale in comparison to its counterpart.

There are other options available to both AAA Pass and Master Pass holders alike. It’s not all about clubnights, bar crawls, headline DJs, and foam parties. SUSU say they will have halls-specific organised outings to venues such as Jesters, Sobar, The Hobbit, and Lennon’s — the latter two of which lean heavily towards alternative live music. Likewise, there’s an “alt” calendar of events available on the AAA Pass with venues such as The 1865, The Joiners, Firehouse, and The Aledandra all featured and ready to offer live music from the indie/rock/etc end of the spectrum.

Just about the only occurrence of Master Pass going the extra mile is in their non-music offerings. Keen to provide something for everyone they will have comedy nights, cheese & wine tasting, a murder mystery night, and a burlesque/cabaret evening at The Bridge. They’ll also have a Great Gatsby Dinner Dance and a Roller Disco at The Cube. Fair play, no complaints here.

To wrap up the last few things we haven’t mentioned: The AAA Pass will also get you discounts and freebies from several popular food outlets in town, discounted tickets to a huge Halloween event, and free entry to popular clubnights at Switch, Orange Rooms, Cafe Parfait, and more. As for the Master Pass, they also have a Fresherfest event at Oceana featuring a DJ set from Tough Love, a fun fair, and a UV paint party … but that really doesn’t stack up against the Solent SU Freshers’ Ball and Soundclash Festival.

SUSU place a disclaimer in the footer of all their Freshers’ Fortnight marketing stating that the Master Pass is in “aid of SUSU’s charitable activities”. Well, buying a Master Pass this year (and in previous years to be honest) certainly feels like a charitable donation as you’re not really getting a whole lot in return. Obviously Solent SU and the events companies they are working with will be making a profit from the AAA Pass, but there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever as far as we’re concerned. They have put together a stellar calendar of events that caters to a wide range of audiences and, as mentioned, are offering real value for money.


About Author

Adam is a physics graduate from the University of Southampton with an interest in electronic music. He co-founded Sotonight and was involved with SEMSU and other music-related projects while at university.