It would appear that six weeks of distance from essay-writing and examstress has in fact not made my heart grow fonder. Aside from the lucky few who spent their break drinking absinthe at après-ski or sunning themselves in St Lucia, no one seems well-rested and ready for the new semester. But ready or not, it’s here.
That said, one definite advantage of starting the new semester is that there have been a ton of great events going on over Refreshers’ Week to take everyone’s minds off starting back with classes. And with a long list of Raising and Giving (RAG) Week events waiting to take over in the wings, it looks like week two will be similarly full of distractions to keep a smile on your face.
Another week of events is certainly good news for those of us who are reluctant to get back in the library, plus it’s all for charity. So go on: be a good samaritan, suit up and join in the fun. You might as well go out while you can before coursework and deadlines ultimately devour your soul
With almost all of the events taking place in the aptly named ‘Building Site Bar’ or Venue 1 thanks to continuing Union redevelopments, you could be forgiven for wondering if people might be tempted to give the deconstructed Union a miss and go elsewhere. Fortunately it takes more than mud and a little wire fencing to keep St Andrews students away from the newly lowered drinks prices; in fact, it seems that the redevelopments have had little effect on the popularity of the venue.
Refreshers’ kicked things off with a traditional Scottish ceilidh on Saturday evening. Admittedly probably more for JSAs and incoming Study Abroad students, the fantastic Kilrymont Ceilidh Band taught firsttimers the steps and kept everyone jigging away until the evening’s end at 10 pm. Free Scottish fare such as Irn Bru and shortbread meant that those who didn’t feel like dancing could still soak up the traditional Scottish vibe.
Daniel Palmer, the director of events and services, told us that the night was a success, with the ceilidh being a sellout and the venue at capacity.
After the traditional final Auld Lang Syne of the ceilidh, Saturday night underwent a quick change of pace with an invitation to “Refresh the new year”. With typical chart music and a countdown at midnight, the idea was to give us the chance to celebrate something of a Hogmanay 2.0. The jury’s out on how this went down, because virtually everyone I know was trying to squeeze every last bit out of their holiday and had not actually arrived back in St Andrews. Although, perhaps not knowing of anyone who went says it all? Perhaps this was one of the ideas that was better in conception than in practice.
Monday saw the return of Laser Tag, an event which has proved very popular in recent years, particularly with sports teams and academic families. Venue 1 was transformed into an obstacle-packed arena, resulting in a tense Hunger-Games-meets-Star- Wars atmosphere. The following day, I actually overheard quite a few people gushing about how fun it was, so if it happens to make a return at Freshers’ 2014 I’ll certainly be giving it a go.
Ian Dee the hypnotist enthralled the audience in Venue 1 on Tuesday evening with a hilarious show that had volunteers participating and the rest of the audience in stitches. The laughter continued when Bubble Bath, St Andrews’ comedy panel show, took over the reigns for the evening at 10 pm. With reduced entry charges for those attending both, Tuesday’s events were not only good fun but also great value for money.
To celebrate the halfway point of week one, the Hockey Club presented Rodeo Night. Regarded as one of the best nights from Refreshers’ last year, it was clear from talk early in the week that this was going to be a big one. Loads of people, clad in check shirts and daring Daisy Dukes’, turned up for what proved a messy evening. As the night drew on and the cheap beer began to lower inhibitions, plenty of people clambered onto the bucking bronco to show off their inner-cowboy. If you missed this, you missed out.
Thursday delivered an opportunity for ABBA diehards to indulge in some 70s classics with the return of Rewind. General reports were that the tribute band, ABBA Forever, were cheesy in a good way and that St Andrews may be home to a larger number of hardcore ABBA fans than first thought, because the turn out for this event was high and queues for entry were out the door.
Rounding off Refreshers’, Clash of the Halls: Clan Warfare was an evening full of hall rivalry and fresher fun. Defending champions DRAFP lost out to the blue-and-yellow clad Andrew Melville Hall. Let’s be honest: this is always going to be a firm favourite in the Freshers’/Refreshers’ social calendar.
RAG Week kicked off on Saturday night with a Venue 1 event, known as ‘UNItrash’. Run by the uni-clubbing branch of Ministry of Sound, the music was obviously great, with mixes that included some of the best dance tracks of the year. For those less enticed by music and more enticed by alcohol, there was a free messy bomb included in the reasonable £4 entry.
Sad to be missing out on sharing the Super Bowl back home with all of your buddies? Venue 1 arranged to show the whole game live on a big screen on Sunday night. They certainly tried to make this the only place in town to be with their 4am extended licence (to make sure the game wasn’t cut short), tasty food and great drinks promos on offer.
In case you missed the Refreshers’ ceilidh, you had a second chance in RAG Week with the good old Scottish knees-up that took place on Sunday night. At only £5 for a ticket, it was pretty reasonable and definitely a must-try for those who had never been to a ceilidh before. All the money raised will go towards the Class Gift fund, which raises money for bursaries and library resources for St Andrews students.
If you were suffering from Monday blues, you missed out on the chance to get your week off to a hilarious start with the return of the St Andrews’ comedy night. At only £4 and with a variety of acts including improv comedy by Blind Mirth; sketches by the St Andrews Revue; and stand up by some of St Andrews finest comedians such as Mimi von Schack, Matt Gibson and Olly Lennard; everyone was guaranteed a good night.
The Union on Tuesday night was the perfect excuse to watch some of St Andrews’ finest gents battle it out in the hopes of being crowned as Mr St Andrews. The hunky contestants competed for the prestigious title by showcasing everything from their ability to seduce to their best dance moves. Last year it was an evening of fun, flirting and fit men; what more could a girl want?
RAG Week hosted the first Sinners Sport of the semester on Wednesday night. An evening that needs no introduction, this one was always sure to sell-out. The theme of old school sports gear means that leg-warmers, sweatbands and short-shorts were all completely normal attire (for one night only, thank God). The UV paint splashed on party-goers made for a messy but memorable evening.
Tonight will see the eagerly anticipated return of one of RAG week’s best events: St Andrews Got Talent. With a variety of acts vying for your applause and the approval of the harsh judges, this will be an evening that showcases the finest talent St Andrews has to offer. Special guests, great prizes and an exciting atmosphere mean you’re guaranteed a good night for just £6. What’s more, all proceeds raised with be going directly to UNICEF UK to help continue their work with children and young people world wide. St Andrews Got Talent is undoubtedly a great night for a great cause. From singers to pianists, St Andrews Got Talent has it all, so why not support a good cause and have a bit of fun?
This Friday night everyone’s favourite Bop will be back. Disney Bop is a great night every year: you can expect a night of dancing, face-painting and flying balloons. Said to be the “most magical night of RAG Week” and with a number of ‘surprises’ yet to be revealed, why not say ‘Hakuna Matata’ to your worries and enjoy this night of childish revelry before those deadlines start to hit.
Second semester marks the return of the fashion shows and Catwalk, which is taking place this Saturday in Venue 1, will be the first of many in 2014. Though far more reasonably priced (regular tickets are just £15) than other fashion shows, the models are no less beautiful and the evening no less fun. The theme of this year’s show is ‘Life in print’, featuring stunning ‘ikat’ prints in a fun and exciting show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is a night that I definitely have my eye on as it sets the bar for the rest: FS, DW and Sitara to name a few. Whether fashion is your thing or not, Catwalk is set to be a phenomenal finale to RAG Week 2014 so don’t miss out!