Mondays are year club nights. Wednesdays are sub-society nights. “Those are completely different groups, each with its own dynamic. There are nine of us, and we’re members of five different sub-societies,” says Lisanne. “Just to give you an indication of how different we all are. But that’s exactly what makes it fun.”

Sara, who is a member of the single-sex Atlantis sub-society, chuckles. “Fun? As if. You’re members of co-ed sub-societies for wimps.” They order another round of drinks. “So yeah, that’s the kind of discussion we have,” says Maxime, herself a member of the co-ed Bacchus sub-society, laughing. “After all, our sub-societies are our pride and joy. Single-sex societies think co-ed societies are cowards, while co-ed societies think they are more fun and more chill. Well, that’s what they say, anyway. They don’t take it too seriously. And it’s only an issue on Wednesdays. The rest of the time we get along just fine, ha ha. And thankfully, we have some things in common, as well.”

Embarrassing dancing at the bar

There is a brief silence, and then they all burst out laughing. “We all love fun and we like to make ourselves heard and we stay at the bar until the wee hours. And we’re all very chaotic and loud, too. When we enter the clubhouse, absolutely everyone will know we’re here. Particularly once we start singing. No one outsings us,” says Sophie. “And we never allow each other to finish our sentences,” yells Lisanne, interrupting Sophie. “And we will also start dancing at the bar together when the music is turned on, all of us together, in a really embarrassing way, even when no one else is dancing yet,” adds Sophie. “That’s the sort of thing we do. We don’t give a damn. We have the best time doing it. As if we’ve been doing this forever.”

From left to right: Elvi, Rianne, Maxime, Sara, Sophie and Lisanne

Bags and pipes

Nevertheless, it took the club a while to assume its definitive shape. “During the initiation period we kind of bonded,” says Sophie. “I think the core of our club was born at that time. And later we were joined by a few others.”

It took them a while to come up with the club’s name, as well. “We considered a lot of other names,” says Elvi. “Including some we’d rather not repeat here. They might be a little too dirty.” When we insist on hearing them, anyway, the girls share a couple of them. “‘Bagpipes’, that’s one of them. But I’m definitely not telling you the tag line,” says Maxime, chuckling to herself. “Well, all right then. ‘Loves bags and pipes’ [translator’s note: this is Dutch slang for ‘loves ball sacks and giving blow jobs’]. We loved it at the time, but how on earth am I supposed to tell my future children? You can’t, can you? Ha ha!”

Hits all the right notes

They came up with the name ‘A Cappella Year Club’, which sounds too cultured to be true, during the inauguration period. “We are always singing together,” Rianne explains. “And we have several club members who are quite musical. So someone came up with the name ‘A Cappella Year Club’. When you sing songs at a bar, you generally do so without any instrumental accompaniment. Hence ‘A Cappella’. Good name, right?”

And very tasteful, too. “Just wait until you see the tag line,” says Lisanne, grinning. The six of them turn around – very quickly, because SSR’s rules won’t allow them to be disrespectful to the bar man by turning their backs on him. The text on the backs of their jumpers reads, ‘Hits all the right notes’.

Signing up after drinking a lot of beer

Some A Cappella members knew from the start they were going to join SSR, either because their parents had been members or because they didn’t care for any other societies. Others had no idea and simply signed up with the society after consuming a lot of beer. Sara wasn’t at all keen on student societies at first. “I thought they were stupid and not at all my cup of tea. But I signed up for one anyway, which was a really good move that I don’t regret the slightest bit. I’m still coming across things I don’t agree with, but I can now also see the positive aspects of societies. The friends they give you are really special. I share a house with five girls from my year club, and we’re having a great time together.”


For life

Elvi completely agrees. “We have a lot of fun, and we can tell each other everything. It’s great to have that [level of support] when you’re living in Rotterdam, away from your family. We even go on holidays together. Last year we went to Lisbon and now we’re considering our options for our next destination.”

So how do these new friends compare to the girls’ secondary school friends? Rianne has noticed a huge difference. “Those are still very good friends. But the way in which the nine of us grew close to each other in no time at all was really quite special. When I came to Rotterdam, I didn’t know anyone here. So it was absolutely amazing to get all these wonderful new friends in such a brief period of time. The hazing rituals we underwent together absolutely contributed to that. We were completely dependent on each other. We went through the whole thing together. That strengthened our bond. For life, I think.”

The other girls nod in agreement. By this time they’ve run out of beer, so Lisanne raises her arm and the girls start singing again. “Go, go, go, go, go…”