You could be forgiven for assuming that tensions might be running a little high during the first official night of Freshers’ Week 2014. A new Union, 1,000 bright-eyed first years, and the pressure to make everyone’s first night a memorable one for the right reasons. Surely, the stress gauge would be cranked up to 11.
Yet Pat Mathewson, the Association president, seemed his usual relaxed, charming self as he greeted journalists outside the steps of Rectors’ café. ‘The Bubble’ was a sold-out event, he announced proudly, and though he was undoubtedly nervous, he and the rest of the sabbatical team looked as if they’d been doing this sort of thing for years rather than weeks.
They had every right to. ‘The Bubble’ was a fantastic evening, which saw the as-yet untouched Venue 1 transformed with balloons, UV lights and, of course, bubbles.
Music was provided by two DJs: Tom Burns from 10 pm to 12 am, followed by Ashton Squires until close at 2 am. Both sets were exactly what you would expect from a St Andrews party – the latest music done up with slick transitions and plenty of drops to keep even the most hardened clubber happy. While Squires was a little more engaging with his audience, kudos to Tom for kicking off the night in style despite the fact many people didn’t move in from the main bar until at least 11.15.
The atmosphere was buzzing. Both Sandy’s and the Main Bar were packed from the moment I arrived at 9.30 and remained that way for most of the night. One potential area of difficulty with the new Union setup may well be the bottle neck between the reception area and the main bar – particularly after 11 pm during Freshers’ Week, as people try to snap up the last of the tickets for that evening’s event. It would perhaps make more sense for ticket collection to be moved elsewhere, but this is a minor point which really made little difference to the evening as a whole.
Chatting to Leon O’Rourke, the director of events and services, he told me he had been panicking about the opening night “all summer” but was relieved it had finally “all come together”. When asked about what to expect from the rest of the week, he gave a wry smile and announced in typical Leon fashion that he would, in fact, be opening for Jon Richardson on Monday night. “I haven’t written a single joke yet”, he chuckled, “but don’t tell anyone”. Sorry Leon.
Overall, this was a night to put in the memory banks of every fresher who got a ticket. Brilliant music, a fantastic atmosphere – let’s hope this is indicative of what to expect for the rest of the week.