Big Top Ball: they’re bringing circus back


With the arrival of week six have come some unexpected causes for excitement. First and foremost, the sun has been making a welcome reappearance for the first time since 2013, but more excitingly still, Big Top Ball has announced its much anticipated return for a second year running, following its sell-out debut last year.

“We’ve been planning the event since September,” explains Florence, Big Top’s arts and creative sub-director.

The theme for the evening is not difficult to decipher given the name of the ball, so we can expect to find a flamboyant and colourful big top tent towering over St Salvator’s Quad on Lower College Lawn come Saturday 12 April, when the ball is scheduled to take place.

Amanda, Big Top’s marketing director adds: “It’s an over-the-top circus theme. Florence and I are getting so overly excited – we’ve definitely got this. There’s been talk of funhouse mirrors and vintage posters from old circuses. And of course, we’re bringing back Max, the paper-mâché elephant that last year’s committee made. He may even be bringing a girlfriend this year…”

The mention of a guest appearance from a lion has me momentarily thinking that the girls have perhaps taken the circus theme a little too far, until I remember that Big Top Ball is hosted by the University’s Charities Campaign and that the appearance is likely non-other than our own Rory McLion. Phew.

Amanda says: “It’s for the Charities Campaign, so all of our proceeds will be going towards the three charities that they’re supporting this year: Macmillan, Maggie’s Meals and Médécins Sans Frontières.”

But just how much cash are they hoping to raise? With last year’s committee managing to raise just over £2,000 for charity, there are big expectations from this year’s event – particularly given that the capacity has increased by 150 people, making the total number of guests a whopping 700.

I’m told that the dress code – ‘black tie with a circus twist’ – is open to interpretation, but the committee encourage everyone to dress up, even if only a little. From “cool circus-y make up” to tutus and lots of glitter, guests are completely free to wear whatever they feel best depicts the broad theme. And for those of you who are really stuck, there will be face painting available on the night. The girls, I’m told, have been so busy they’ve not found time to pin down their own outfits yet, although there was talk of a ringmaster’s tailcoat for Sarah, who is, as Big Top’s director, “a kind of ringmaster in a way”.

And the theme doesn’t stop at the dress code, nor the decorations. “We’ve got circus-themed performers,” says Amanda. “Cameron Kirby, former director of On The Rocks, has dared to do stilt-walking for us. He stilt walks, he does juggling, he’s working on fire-breathing at the moment; but don’t worry, we won’t let him do it too near to the side of the tent!” she laughs.

As the conversation turns to the subject of music, the girls become more coy. Though they won’t tell me all of the acts lined up, they do inform me that local band Black Sheep have been asked to perform again due to being “a huge hit last year”. “They’re a great combination of songs you know, songs you want to sing to and then songs that are a little bit cheesy. They’re great at getting the crowd going,” says Sarah.

“They’re a real energiser,” Amanda adds.

And if dancing is not really your thing, you’ll have lots more to keep you entertained for the evening by the sounds of it. Popcorn, candy floss and the Buffalo Food Truck will satiate any hungry mouths, whilst another tent situated alongside the main area will give guests the opportunity to play traditional fair ground games like ‘tin can alley’ and ‘hook-a-duck’.

With tickets priced at a very reasonable £25, the girls assure me that Big Top is “the ball to go to if you’re not big on formal balls but you want to go to a great event”.

Amanda adds that they’re “the ball for everybody… particularly people who haven’t been to a ball before. It’s going to be great fun and it’s relatively inexpensive.”

Tickets for the Big Top Ball are on sale today from 12 pm until 3 pm in the Union foyer, and from the sounds of it they’ll sell out fast. For those of you who’re juggling a lot of coursework and worried about the guilt of a night off from studying, remember: it’s all for charity. So quit clowning around and get involved. When else are you going to get the opportunity to hang out with stilt-walkers, fire-breathers and paper-mâché elephants?



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