Call me a cynical fourth year, but I was dubious about Christmas Ball this year. Stressed and fed up after what has felt like the longest semester ever (bring back Reading Week) and with exams getting nearer with each passing day (ahh!), no one is feeling very festive. But alas, these reviews don’t write themselves, so I pulled on my party dress and headed out into the bleak mid-winter’s eve to see if Mr Wonka and his Mermaids could inject some Christmas cheer into Revision Week.
Skipping the pre-Ball party, held in The Rule, in favour of homemade tipples was perhaps an error as reports were that it was actually very good, with performances by The Accidentals and the Just So Society. Another issue with forgoing the festivities in The Rule was that it led to the unintended missing of the buses. After finally making out of the door and pioneering some taxis on South Street, off we went to discover ‘Willy Wonka’s Winter Wonderland’.
We’ve all been to Kinkell Byre numerous times – too many probably. Virtually every event in St Andrews winds up being held there; it can get tedious. But kudos to whomever headed up the decorations committee because the place was totally transformed. Fairy lights and Christmas trees gave the venue a distinctly festive feel, while giant Wonka-themed decorations (like a huge purple bridge and man-sized Wonka bar) made the theme for the evening abundantly clear.
On the subject of abundance, the flurry of sweet treats available made sure no one left hungry. Chocolate fountains, gingerbread men and Jannettas ice-cream were available throughout the night, leaving those with a sweet-tooth more than satiated. For those who had perhaps been a little overzealous with the alcohol and in need of something more substantial, King Boar hog roast and the Fine Food and Dining society were on hand serving up hotdogs and waffles.
The black tie dress code ensured the 1,400 attendees looked great. Lots of ladies opted for sequins in keeping with the season while others chose velvet and lace dresses in rich festive colours. Although too formal for most other balls in St Andrews, floor-length dresses were completely appropriate; although many girls, myself included, kept hemlines above the knee.
Lots of photographers were on hand to capture the revelry; and obviously, no Christmas Ball would be complete without the appearance of a certain Mr Claus. Guests were able to visit the man in the red suit in his festive photo booth and pose for pictures on his big red sleigh.
By 22:00, things were well and truly in full swing; the festive atmosphere combined with reasonably priced drinks and the notion of being somewhere other than the library made for quite the heady concoction. As Radio One DJ Danny Howard began his set, everyone was in high spirits and made their way onto the dance floor. Joe Jones took over the decks later in the evening and kept the crowd moving with a great mix of Top 40 tracks and a few Christmas classics. Even as the evening wore on the playlist didn’t descend into mindless beats as it often does; the dance floor was still packed at 01:30.
Buses home began at 00:00 (for those who had drunk a little too much eggnog) and carried on until the last merry guest left at 02:00. I’ve heard that a surprising number actually managed to make it until 02:00, but I wasn’t one of them; I hopped on a bus around 01:45 feeling tired but full of Christmas cheer.
The Mermaids’ Christmas Ball is always a great night, hence it sells out every year, and 2013 was certainly no exception. It’s the perfect way to get yourself into the Christmas spirit and let loose before the dreaded end of semester exams. Thanks to the Ball I woke up this morning feeling festive for the first time this year… And then I remembered that I had to go to the library.
Photo credit: Sammi McKee. For the full album, check out The Saint’s Facebook page.