Christmas Ball, Welly Ball, Glitterball – balls are always best with a theme. And if Britney can do a whole tour based on it, the potential for a circus-themed ball is mammoth. Or, more appropriately, “elephant”.

With gigantic red and yellow circus tents, elephants (not real), lions (thankfully also not real) coconut shies and stilted men; this Saturday, the circus quite literally came to town. With copious amounts of popcorn and cakes, along with a penchant for face paint that made greeting friends with a kiss on the cheek a hazardous procedure, the ringmasters of this event deserve a round of applause.

My approach to balls usually entails extended pre-drinks, missing out on any opening entertainment or freebies, before enjoying a short-lived night in a town where everything closes too soon. But given that this is my last semester in St Andrews, I am rapidly running out of evenings like this.

And although opting to stay in may translate to future riches – i.e. no more hefty price tags for weekly black-tie events and possibly even a real person salary – I really do want to savour every moment of my time here. So for Big Top Ball, my friends and I changed our ways and, like the proverbial bird, we caught the worm.

Thankfully, we were among the first arrivals to the event, and the lack of queues in the early minutes meant we were able to monopolise the photo booth for long enough to sample the tiaras, moustaches and each pair of oversized sunglasses. We then managed to get our hands on some of the free wine which seems to be commonly advertised among balls, but until now had always remained elusive hearsay to me.

Getting there early also meant the opportunity to watch others arrive in their circus finery. In general, the efforts of the organisers were not matched by the efforts of their guests. Like myself, many seemed to have lazily opted for the brightest thing in their wardrobe, with the occasional top hat thrown in for good measure. Nonetheless, even those that had ignored the theme when they got dressed were soon reeled in by it; attempting to hook a duck, having their faces painted and nourishing themselves with food and (even more-so) drink.

Once the blood alcohol level to aim precision threshold was exceeded, guests gave up on the ducks and moved on to the less precise art of dancing. With DJSAUNIT providing top tunes to dance to, as well as live music from Jazzworks and Black Sheep, the organisers had once again spoiled us with variety. Rock, dance, jazz… all tastes were catered for. We danced until (almost) 2 am, and for once – finally! – I felt like I experienced a whole ball.

Even at dissertation time of year Big Top Ball has managed to be a major success.  This is a testament to the Cirque du Soleil quality of the night and, given it was a charity event, completely excuses our disregard for pressing deadlines: win-win.

If you have the luxury of another year before you too have to enter the real world then I have no doubt it will be back bigger than ever in 2015. Just remember to show up early!

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