House of Horrors 2014: Review

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Ah, what a frightful night Thursday evenings in St Andrews can be. This week’s House of Horror Gala bash, hosted in Kinkell Byre, proved to be no exception. As some of the more studious demographic of St Andrews students shuffled down South Street to the Library for an evening of study, the ghouls and comics of town made their way to Madras College to be whisked away by bus to the haunted Byre. A vast improvement over last year’s taxi system, attendees made the often painful and drawn out ball jaunt swiftly.

As a member of the press, I was requested to arrive promptly at 9 pm so as to capture the Byre in it’s fully haunted splendor and check out the set up before the expected swarm of students arrival. Given that I had conducted the interview prior to the event, I had high expectations; the result of promises of an evening not to miss and the relatively few posts on the Facebook page looking to sell tickets last minute. After arriving at what felt like an unnecessarily early hour, I wandered through the ‘haunted house’ entrance to the event.

Despite the attention to detail in the execution of the actual aesthetics of the Haunted House, the spook and terror promised came off a bit lacklustre, with only a handful of actors actively engaging in the entrance – perhaps this came off stronger later in the evening when the more inebriated contingent of the event arrived.

A highlight of the evening for those I spoke with was the abundance of syringe shots and candy lining the entry hall and the fast-moving bar. With helpful “cash only” reminders on the Facebook event leading up to the evening, it seemed as though most, if not all, of the attendees were prepared for the evening with a healthy amount of cash on hand and little confusion when ordering. The welcome shots managed to remain prevalent throughout the evening, with the strong, mystery alcohol seemingly appearing on the dance floor as if from nowhere.

With the exception of the odd security guard, the attendees of Kinkell Byre looked as though they had wandered off a Tim Burton set – bloody guts and all. The attention to detail and high levels of execution on the costumes was fantastic, with fancy dress inspiration coming from the mainstream (the ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ guys) to the more obscure oldie refs (Lurch and Cousin It à la The  Addams Family). With an enthusiastic crowd, many brought their A-Game for the evening, which fed into the spooky set up on the dance floor.

A new feature of the charity gala this year that many enjoyed was the presence of ShoeCheck, conveniently located across from the PhotoBooth and Coat Check in the back of the Byre. A student-lead enterprise group, ShoeCheck offered many a disoriented zombie queen a respite from her killer heels. For £3 one could buy a pair of flip flops, and for £4, check their shoes with the group to avoid carrying said heels for the evening. Billing themselves as a solution for those “who prefer not to go barefoot after a ball”, ShoeCheck was a warmly welcomed addition, and a feature many look forward to for future events.

Despite the great amount of thought in the planning and execution of the event, the evening never hit a high level of capacity, with about fifty percent of the Byre full at the height of the evening. Having been in Kinkell for a handful of events, it felt very open and empty – with half of the dance floor sectioned off to keep the room feeling more packed than reality. With amazing music from opening act DJ Saunit and a killer main performance by St Andrews own DJ Kalliope, the dance floor was moving and full by Midnight.

With killer sets of deep bass and house music, and the odd Shakira or R Kelly tune, the drunken stumblings of many a stiletto-clad sexy animal were subsumed by the crowd.

Speaking with attendees throughout the evening into the early hours, House of Horrors was described to have been a fun, albeit, quiet night. However, it seems that for those who had pre-drank sufficiently for the event, it was a “splendidly spooky night”, with the various haunted aspects of the ball resonating with them.

Ryan Hubner, spokesperson for Ted Haxby, frontman of The Other Guys and President of the Kate Kennedy Club, had this to say about the event:

“It was scary.”

Having not attended the event last year, I was quite enthusiastic for the evening – I had worked out a clever costume, cajoled a group of friends to attend, and expected a “spooktacular” Halloween Ball. The result? A fun, visually intriguing evening, filled with lots of alcohol and good music.

Was it any different the the scene found at Wicked Wednesday at the Vic? Likely not, but for one night, you were able to indulge in your 90s era Britney Spears fandom without the risk of running into your tutor. All in all, it was a fun evening, but for some, possibly not the best night of the Halloween festivities this week.

 

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