The Junction is often beyond the radar of Cambridge students. Situated just past the railway station, adjacent to the strangely corporate and soulless leisure centre best known to nearby Homertonians, the Junction’s surroundings used to be the site of a decrepit cattle market discernibly outside of the city centre. The architecture of the original building is testament to the City Council’s intention to stop noise escaping from the venue, originally created to give youths something to do as the rave scene of the 90s was emerging. The Junction was, and to some extent continues to be, firmly on the ‘town’ side of the town/gown divide.
Describing itself as “committed to art and entertainment that is up-and-coming, youthful and cutting-edge”, with Lottery and Arts Council grants, the Junction has grown and expanded over the past 25 years to become something more considerable than a doghouse for Cambridge’s loud and dance-prone teenagers. Over the first 17 years of its existence, the Junction grew from 400 to 1,500 capacity, while the number of annual events tripled, increasingly surrounded by urban development and sprawl – a Travelodge, cinema complex, and plenty of chain restaurants.
Yet its sense as a venue for residents, rather than a haunt of Cambridge’s transient and temporary student community, seems to persist. Despite having an incredibly impressive line-up, the intimate and well-equipped venue is rarely attended by Cambridge students. As a former sixth former in Cambridge, this quirk seems a little wasteful – I remember some of my first live music experiences at Little Comets and Local Native gigs in J1, and seeing a contemporary dance piece my sister was involved with in J2. The Junction is friendly, cheap and offers something quite different to anything else in the centre of the city.