Battle of the balls

Photo: Ali Stokes

1. Welly

welly ball

Welly Ball? The Saint talked to ball director Eve Laren to find out more…

First things first, the concept behind Welly Ball. For those who don’t know, it is described as the annual black-tie ball “held in conjunction with the St Andrews Clay Pigeon Shooting Club”. It also acts as the after-party to the St Andrews Challenge, a clay pigeon shooting competition.

Eve explained: “The Welly Ball was originally the after-party for the St Andrews Challenge. Now it has grown into an independent event where half of the guests are from outside universities and the rest are from St Andrews. We have 750 people coming for a black-tie hog roast.

“[That many guests makes] us the largest black-tie dinner in St Andrews! After dinner another 400 guests come along for the after-party.

“The night begins with a huge hog roast and plenty of wine for all of our dinner guests. After our rather impossible task of feeding 750 people is complete, we transition into the after-party. This year, we have an after-party marquee, which will have a more chilled out vibe that serves as a sanctuary if the main dance floor gets too overwhelming. We will also have multiple food pop up stands including a Butlers Wrap revival stand, the infamous Dervish and Wang’s wings.

“I went to the after-party in my first year and became involved with the committee as head of charity in my second year. What attracted me to it in first year was the mix of students from other universities, as that’s what makes this a unique event. We’ve made a lot of changes this year so I’m excited to see how it all goes.”

Eve is also clearly passionate about the charity that the ball backs.

“This year, we are supporting a local charity, The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), and specifically the Fife branch. RHET aims to educate local school children about food, farming and the countryside so they have a better understanding of the rural environment of Scotland. This allows us to see exactly where our donation goes and to see how this event will benefit the local community. We’re excited to be involved in a volunteer day for this fantastic organisation next week so that we can get to know the wonderful people in charge.”

When asked what she was most looking forward to, Eve answered: “The Butler’s Wraps stand at the after-party! I have been craving them all year and fortunately when we approached the man who bought the Butler’s building he was very keen to bring the wraps back for Welly!”

Dress code is black-tie, and obviously wellies. So girls, go for those short cocktail dresses to showcase your footwear!

welly ball box

2. Nobel

nobel ball

Nobel Ball is one of the highlights of the Christmas season as far as balls go. As we have seen from the Crayfish party earlier this semester, the Scandinavian Society certainly knows how to throw a party. The Saint met up with event organisers Anni Ritzler, Nina Haanes Hessen and Michaela Lindgren to find out more about what we can expect.

Nobel Ball was created by the Scandinavian Society in honor of Alfred Nobel, best known as the inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prizes given out in recognition of scientific and cultural advances. As an important Scandinavian figure it makes sense for the Scandinavian Society to be hosting a ball in his honor.

For the first time the event will be hosed at the Scores Hotel and will include a three-course meal instead of the usual two. It will begin with a champagne reception, followed by dinner and finally the ball. The dinner will include prawn and mango salad with dressed rocket, supreme of chicken with a sunblushed tomato mousse and served with a white wine and leek sauce, and a raspberry cheesecake with crème Chantilly. Each guest will be provided with half a bottle of wine, with the choice of red or white.

In addition this is also the first year that the Nobel Ball has a sponsor: Fisk. Fisk is a Scandinavian vodka mix with a touch of a minty flavor looking to establish itself in Scotland.

The Ball will also host two DJs, Fabian Loeke and Julius von Gierke, who are second-year students working together to try to establish themselves as DJs in the St Andrews community.

The dress code is formal and girls are encouraged to wear long dresses. Meanwhile, guys should wear traditional black-tie.

As well as dishing the dirt on what to expect for Nobel Ball, the committee members also hinted at something new they will be hosting next year when the Scandinavian Society celebrates its tenth anniversary. In honour of this they intend to create a new event to mark the occasion.

We aren’t completely sure what will be coming next, but we can expect Nobel Ball to be a great event and look forward to whatever new things the Scandinavian Society are doing next!

nobel ball box

3. 600th Finale


The 600th anniversary ball is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime event. After seemingly several years of turning 600, this is it: the final celebration. We sat down with some of the Fellows in charge of organising: Pat Mathewson, Katherine Weight and Sean McDonald to find out what we can expect.

Taking place on Lower College Lawn, the ball will have the usual champagne reception, Scottish piper and Union bar, but we were promised there would be plenty of surprises to keep the night exciting. Drawing inspiration from other balls, the organisers said they had tried to take the best aspects and draw these together to make the night as enjoyable as possible. For example, there will be portaloos to avoid the awkward walk back in to Sallies Quad, and an easily accessible cloakroom.

When asked about the other ball that is famously held on Lower College Lawn, the KKC’s Opening Ball, Annie Newman commented: “The tent will actually be slightly larger than Opening Ball, and laid out completely differently. Our musical acts require different spaces, and this will be reflected in the way we set up the dance floor. We also have really exciting things planned for the production aspect, which will completely transform the dance floor into nothing you’ve seen before. As for the entrance area, we’ll have much more than just your standard champagne reception and Janetta’s (though who doesn’t love a good champagne reception, really). You’ll have to wait and see!”

The dress code: formal, but in keeping with the age of the University, will have a vintage feel to it, although more information and a what-to-wear guide will be released nearer the time. “Black tie, but put your own twist on it.”

As for entertainment, the night will be opened by St Andrews’ staple, The Other Guys, followed by a whole host of other names, including the up-and-coming April Vellacott. The night will close with headliner, international superstar Del Pello, all the way from Amsterdam, who has opened for the likes of Avicii, Benny Benassi and Otto Knows.

The Fellows are keen to emphasis that the Ball is the culmination of a full day of events, starting with a food festival, moving on to a ceilidh and finishing in the Quad with the ball, and promises to be great finale to the 600th anniversary celebrations.

“The day is completely jam-packed. In the morning is the St Andrews Food Festival (YUM), followed by the annual St Andrews Day Commemoration Service at Holy Trinity Church. The annual town lighting ceremony will begin at 16:00 on South Street, and then a ceilidh in Sallies Quad begins at 18:00, and will shut down by 19:30, giving us time to do all of the necessary prep work for the Ball at 21:00.”

Organisers said they were expecting a bit of 600th fatigue by now, but enthusiasm has been overwhelming, with the first 600 tickets selling like hotcakes, to the extent that the event has been expanded to allow a total of 1,400 guests to attend.

This isn’t just another ball, and it’s not just unique because it’s only happening once: this promises to be a really phenomenal night, and the perfect finish to the 600th celebrations.

600 finale box

4. Christmas

christmas ball

Somehow, it’s November. Deadlines have overtaken our lives and it’s clear from the library that the sense of impending doom brought on by the nearing of the December exams is making us all despair. On top of that, it’s absolutely freezing outside and you basically need a torch to walk anywhere after 16:00. Truthfully, the joys of the festive season could not be further from our minds. But in the midst of the darkness lies a beacon of light, in the form of the annual Mermaids Christmas Ball. The Saint caught up with Mermaids’ president David Patterson and Christmas Ball convener Natalie English to uncover exactly how this year’s event will lift your spirits and put you in the Christmas-y mood, even with exams looming just around the corner.

The event, scheduled to take place on Sunday 1 December, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and as such, organisers are hopeful the evening will be bigger and better than ever before. The theme of the ball, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was inspired by a dance Natalie attended at school; although she added that: “It wasn’t done to anywhere near the same extreme that we are planning for this event.

“For Christmas Ball, we’ve got a giant purple bridge like the one in the film […] which will be filled with sweets,” Natalie continued. “There will be purple gates like the ones from the Factory and a huge Wonka Bar which is double my height!”

We’ve also been promised “loads of chocolate fountains and sweets all around the venue,” a free glass of Cava and Wonka-themed Jannetta’s ice-cream included in the ticket price (£35).

Not forgetting that it’s the Christmas Ball, David assured me that decorations will also incorporate the festive theme. There will be “upside down Christmas trees” and one “gigantic” tree, which guests will pass as they enter the venue. As is customary, Santa will also be making a photo appearance in his Grotto, which will be constructed specially for the event. The role of Mr Claus is still up for grabs, however. “Traditionally, the Mermaids production coordinator is dressed as Santa; but this year, our PC, Rose, has a fear of the man in the red suit and has passed up the role, so we’re still looking into who it’ll be.” David invited “anyone with a burning desire to become Saint Nick for the evening” to get in touch.

“Christmas Ball is going to be a really nice, relaxing evening for people to get all festive and forget about upcoming exams. I like to think of it as kind of the ‘last big night out’ with all of my friends before revision starts.”

David continued: “We’ve also upped our budget for the Ball by £5000, so have invested a lot into the theme and atmosphere; our acts, in particular, are really geared towards getting the crowd into the festive spirit and showing them a good time”.

Radio One DJ Danny Howard will be kicking off the evening with charts and remixes before handing over the reigns to Joe Jones, Ma Bells’ resident DJ, who will be “revving up the cheesy Christmas tunes” as the evening progresses. Local jazz and blues band, Blueswater, who “everyone really enjoyed last year” will also be performing “to get us all in the party mood”. David explained that the organisers’ aim is for “people to come away thinking, ‘Wow, that was really Christmas-y’.”

Controversially this year, the ball will be competing somewhat with the 600th Finale Ball, which is scheduled to take place the evening before the Mermaids event. “Clashes happen, and we wish both balls well,” David commented. But what about those of us struggling to find the cash by the end of the semester and forced to choose just one event? “Well you should obviously come to Christmas Ball – it’s a given.”

christmas ball box


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