Freshie’s Guide to Culturals

Hello! My my, it feels really lovely to be talking to a new batch of freshies. Wait, I forgot to introduce myself. My deer freshies, welcome to insti! I am Anbu, and I will be your guide to help you navigate through the seemingly endless maze of insti cultural clubs.

Let’s chat a little bit more before we get to the topic. I’m sure you’re feeling relieved now, having secured a seat on this amazing campus. I can only imagine how much prep you did and how many fun things you gave up getting here. Well, the worst of it is over now, so you have time to pick up that guitar, dust off the old ghungroos, or maybe even watch that K-drama you’ve been eyeing. In your time here at insti, I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by acads. I’m sure I sound like an old geezer when I say that insti life is the best place for all-round development. And the best places to hone your skills or pick up new hobbies and friends along the way? Cultural clubs.

All right. Let’s cut to the chase now. I’m one busy deer, even though it might not seem so.

IIT Madras, or insti as we fondly call it, has many clubs and interest groups for (almost) every interest out there. As freshies, you are welcome to participate in all the events conducted by all the clubs, and they’re always super fun! There’s also a contingent for some clubs, where you can audition and get selected to participate in competitions and win laurels for insti. So if you’re a brilliant playwright next to Shakespeare himself, or your voice makes the room go silent (here, teen movie), keep looking for smails about contingent selections.

You might think, “Anbu, I also want to host these events! I have lots of ideas! What should I do?”  Well, freshies can join all of these clubs as Deputy Coordinators, rise through the ranks, and even get to head some of these clubs if you’re good at it! Don’t worry; you don’t have to start prepping right now but keep an eye out for applications and fundae sessions.

Without any further ado, let’s get started. I’ll be going in alphabetical order, so scroll down to your favourite or read through to find your next favourite club!

Choreo Club

Do you feel compelled to tap your feet along to every song you listen to? Do you thoroughly enjoy learning K-pop routines? Then you’ve found your people in the Choreo Club. And if you think you have two left feet and wouldn’t fit in, think again because there’s no such thing as a bad dancer, only a scared one.

The Choreo Club organises several events and workshops throughout the year. There are FWF sessions (where members teach the participants a routine to a popular song), salsa workshops, and the SPARKS workshop (conducted by professionals). The club also hosts competitions for LITSOC (the inter-hostel cultural competition) and has events during Saarang like Choreo Nite, Freestyle Solo and Just Duet.

Classical Arts Club

India has many unique classical singing, instrumental and dance traditions. The Classical Arts Club provides a platform for promoting these unique arts. The club organises events and workshops, whether Carnatic or Hindustani music or dance forms like Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak etc., to help you hone your skills or reignite your passion.

The club caters to all skill levels, so don’t worry if you are a newbie and want to learn a new art form. For the uninitiated, the club hosts guided listening and dance sessions; advanced sessions are in the works for the pros.

Comedy Club

If tickling people’s funny bones makes you tick (no jokes about this; I’m a writer and a mascot, not a comedian), then the Comedy Club will be your happy place. The club organises improv workshops and standups. They have regular club sessions and roasts, parodies and videos, so if you have other formats you’d like to try, you’re always welcome to try it out.

Of course, like other clubs, Comedy Club also has a contingent, so if you are an aspiring comedian trying to use your IIT degree as fodder for content, definitely audition for that.

Culinary Club

Good food makes you happy (trust me, I love spring for the varied flowers I get to eat… it’s making my mouth water already), and what better way to partake in that happiness than with like-minded folks who love the culinary arts? 

The Culinary Arts Club is a new entrant into the Sangam clubs, and they host cooking and eating competitions and quizzes about food and culinary arts. Their goal is to promote an ideal of cultural exchange through food and cooking. There are a lot of new events in the works from them, and I am looking forward to more plant and flower-based cooking shows that I can judge.

Drama Club

(Stage is dimly lit. Suddenly there is a bright flash of light, sparks, and thunder. Out comes Anbu, dressed in a cape, looks up towards the ceiling. He slowly looks down at the audience)
My dear friends welcome to the intro to Drama Club. We at the club are dedicated to the performing arts, however varied they are. Be it monologues, stage plays, or nukkad nataks (street plays), we are devoted to promoting thespian culture in insti. Not in the least, are we limited to just acting, either. Scriptwriting, production, set design and direction, we cover them all.
The contingent deserves special mention because we take in candidates according to the project. So, if you love performance theatre, look no further than the club and audition as soon as the emails come out.
(Light fades out)

Fashion Club

The Fashion Club is for everyone who loves fashion. Maybe you swear by the dark academia aesthetic, love the forest fairy vibes, or perhaps you don’t even know what the word means. Regardless, the club has events for you as long as you have enthu.

They hold events and workshops for beginners and have a very active contingent that recruits make-up artists, designers and even choreographers, so if any of these interest you, keep your eyes peeled for their selections. They even host group crochet sessions, which I am very excited about (and no, it has nothing to do with my love for eating yarn). If a calm evening crocheting a scarf or a purse makes you all nostalgic, then be there or be square.

Fine Arts Club

The Fine Arts Club promotes different art mediums like pottery, ceramics, various Indian art forms, charcoal, etc. They organise events throughout the year, such as workshops or competitive events like LITSOC or other non-competitive events. You also get the opportunity to interact with artists from across India. The goal is to promote eco-friendly arts and hobbies, so their events are centred around themes like pottery painting events.
The selection process for the contingent is through a submission process which will then be sent to an art academy to ensure an entirely fair selection process. If exploring different art mediums is your fancy, check out their events.

Gaming Club

The Gaming Club is among the new-gen clubs in insti. They aim to take the gaming culture to the next level, remove the negative associations with gaming, promoting it as an active art form.
The club also aims to make gaming more inclusive, with a host of events planned for girls. The club also conducts regular tournaments of some of the most popular games among students. A Freshie Weekender is in the works with many games, including a Playzone for PS games. There are also the LITSOC competitions, a “Clash Royale ” among gamers representing their hostels if you will. You can also try out for contingent if you are a pro at FIFA, Clash Royale, COD, Valorant or BGMI, and if you’re a noob, play some e-sports to level up.

Informals Club

The Informals Club is for all those looking to make new friends, socialise and have fun. The club, which hosts non-competitive events like a treasure hunt, Cluedo, board games, icebreakers, and Fandom night, is the perfect place to add to your friend group.
So take your friends along for a fun evening, go in as a lone wolf and find your pack, or join as DC and organise some of these events.

Media Club

So many clubs hold events, but how do we know about them? Well, someone has to cover the events and publicise them! That’s what the Media Club does. All you photography enthusiasts, follow the media club for workshops on photography, editing etc., during Saarang.
The Media Club also has a Film Appreciation Club, which screens movies, so if you’re a movie buff, this will be your happy place. The club also hosts competitions for photography and filmmaking, so that’s your chance to win some laurels.

Meraki Club

The Meraki Club brings one-of-a-kind experiences to Saarang. Be it the Ferris wheel, Saarang parade, or the vintage car exhibition, Meraki events are bound to make you feel like you’re at a carnival. The club doesn’t need any prerequisite skills, just enthu.
Meraki, along with Informals and Spotlight, hosts non-competitive events. So while you might not have a contingent to audition for, their verticals are in charge of unique events like stage acts, street acts, workshops, stalls, exhibitions and AdZone.

Music Club

I don’t think I even have to introduce this club to you because there isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t enjoy jamming to some tunes. Music is the best stress reliever after a bad day, and the music club hosts events that will do precisely that.
The club hosts competitions during LITSOC, like western music solo and band, pair on stage, instrumental and so on. They also host karaoke and jam sessions, music workshops and open mics. While the club is for everyone, if you’re somewhat of a maestro, try out for the contingent to represent insti in competitions.

Nova Club

Nova, like Meraki and Spotlight, hosts events during Saarang. Nova is the cultural incubator cell of IIT Madras. It means that they come up with new interest groups.

Remember the Culinary Arts club, the new entrant into Sangam clubs? Came from Nova.

Every year, they develop three verticals for fests during Saarang, and depending on the club’s success, it gets incorporated into Sangam. Nova also has standalone events like cosplay, panel discussions, workshops and dance performances. If you have hobbies that don’t find expression in the existing gamut of Sangam clubs, then you know Nova is the place to be! 

Oratory Club

Friends, Instifolk and countrymen… lend me your ears (or eyes). Come I to speak about the Oratory club, under leave from T5E and the rest. (If you recognise this, then try out for the contingent. You’d fit in.)

Oratory Club hosts formal and informal public speaking and oratory events covering recent news, insti news, pop culture, etc.
Some events hosted last year were Rant-a-thon, Shipwreck, and JAM, with a twist and straightforward debate and elocution. These events will help you hone your public speaking skills and confidence, so attend them even if you are terrified. They’re fun, and performance anxiety is one fear you can overcome, unlike my fear of tigers. You’ll make great friends while you’re at it.

Quiz Club

This student-run association is a hub for those who love trivia and organises regular meet-ups where the hosts pose to the guest’s various conundrums, moral or otherwise, arranged around singular or multiple themes. Name this organisation for 10 points.

Questions like this (probably better than this) and more are what you can expect during quiz club meet-ups. The Quiz Club hosts many competitive and non-competitive quizzes during the semester. They also collaborate with other clubs to host theme meets. They have a very active contingent and travel to various colleges to participate in quizzes. The club also hosts quizzes like India, MELA, Madras Minutiae and Lone Wolf during Saarang, which are necessary if you are (or want to become) a quizzer.

Spotlight Club

Spotlight is the lec dem club of Saarang and comes under NCE. Their motto is “enlighten, entertain and empower” The club’s primary role is to bring speakers from various walks of life into the spotlight (ha!). Spotlight has hosted many exciting speakers like Kamal Hassan, Shashi Tharoor, Sid Sriram, Gautham Menon, Vishwanathan Anand etc. Spotlight sessions are always a delight to watch during Saarang. Make sure you attend your favourite ones!

VFX and Design Club

Are you Adobe Premier “Pro”? Because VFX and Design Club wants you.*

The Club is an excellent platform for the GSB to learn the arts of animation, VFX and graphic design. They conduct workshops, training sessions and projects to help students gain a footing in the field and collaborate with other clubs to create visual content. They also host various events and competitions throughout the year, like logo design, character design, vector arts, graphic illustrations, etc. Whether you are an expert at design and animation or want to learn a new skill, the club provides a platform for you. 

*Among my considerable skills: Making incredibly lame jokes.

Word Games Club

Top witch comes ahead of crazy dorm sage in a fun activity! (4, 5)*

(Thanks to Abhinav, Convenor of WGC, for setting it up for me)

If this clue piqued your interest and left you wanting more, then you’re meant to join WGC. The club is for all those word game nerds out there. But don’t get disheartened if The Hindu Crossword makes you want to run away; WGC hosts Intro to Cryptic Crossie and other games like Scrabble, What’s the Good Word, Spelling Bee, and Potpourri. They have regular meets where you can go with friends for some good old daily crosswords or Scrabble. 

WGC also has a very active contingent, and if you want to participate in competitions, then be sure to check out their regular sessions to get a clue (ha!) about the regular types of games.

*Check the end of the article for answer and breakdown

Writing Club

At last, my dear reader, we come to somewhat of an end to this article with an intro to Writing Club. If you like to weave tapestries of words, beautiful and robust, and if your stories leave your reader wanting more, then the Writing Club events are the perfect place to showcase and hone that talent.

Along with the regular contests, the Writing Club also organises events like Amoeba, the Hemingway challenge, haiku, flash fiction, etc. The club also has a bimonthly magazine called The Squibbler, in which members give book and movie recommendations. They also have a blog called Writer’s Bloc which publishes creative entries from GSB.

So, that’s that, folks. The surprisingly long intro to Culturals is done. If this is too much to wrap your head around, don’t worry because Club Weekender is coming soon, and you’ll get to meet all these clubs in person at once. Hopefully, you’ll go to these with a little idea about what they are, and maybe you have a few favourites already, so go forth and conquer, my friends!

* Answer to Cryptic Crossie Clue: Word Games

(4,5) tells us the answer has two words, one is four letters long, and one is 5 letters

‘Top’ tells us to take the first letter from witch, which is w

‘Crazy’ tells us to anagram (mix up the letters) of ‘Dorm sage.’’

And finally, the clue also tells us that w comes before the anagram. Put it together, and you have word games!

Edited by Aditi Rathore

Sree Divya

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