Prior to the start of the Mermaids’ Christmas Ball last night, a friend asked me how I imagined the fabled and much hyped evening would go. While it has always been my dream to write a critical review of an event, to moan about the appalling food, the disappointing entertainment and the way everything could have been run better, I was happily surprised by the evening hosted by the Mermaids Committee.
This year’s Narnia themed ball truly lived up to its reputation of being a great, fun-packed evening. It seemed as though Christmas Ball garnered a cult following overnight, with almost unparalleled hype for tickets from mid-November. On a sour note, the hype also lead to a shocking black market for wristbands resulting in resales for upwards of £100. With tickets having sold out online in under a minute and in person sales wrapping up in just over an hour, St Andrews was more than anxious for the last ball of the season.
Having been promised ‘Christmas with a twist’, the organizers came through with their promise. Upon arriving at Kinkell Byre for my first ever ball, I was impressed with the transformation of the much used space into a winter wonderland. Complete with with the beautiful decorations including snowflakes, hanging Christmas trees and clever lighting, the venue was a sight to be seen. With a separate tent adjacent from the packed dance floor, one could easily escape to a myriad of food options, seating and a photo booth, which in my opinion was a great addition – who doesn’t love drunkenly taking a plethora of photos to remember the night by?
The committee heavily advertised that your £35 would get you a night of music, dancing, complimentary champagne and most importantly food. Featuring ball favourite Janettas and the requisite welcome champagne that features at most formal St Andrews events, the Christmas Ball also had a festive chocolate fountain, a gourmet toastie stand operated by the Fine Food and Dining Society, nachos and other treats throughout the evening.
[pullquote]One could easily escape to a myriad of food options, seating and a photo booth[/pullquote]
Beyond the bevy of food options at the ball a criticism to be found was in the endless amount of queuing throughout the night. Whether it be for the buses to and from the event or for the bathroom or any of the three bars the event felt overcrowded at times, though the sight of the dancing Christmas-jumper dressed bar staff almost made the wait worthwhile.
Similarly, the dance floor was, at times, a little too crowded for my liking. I could definitely feel the presence and occasional stiletto of the extra 250 people the Mermaids allowed in this year (after a sold out 10th Anniversary ball last year, the event was expanded to accommodate the 2014 hype). That being said a dance floor doesn’t really feel right unless you’re surrounded by a crowd so the enthusiastic group was a sweaty albeit necessary occurrence.
For me, what was so great about the Christmas Ball was that I never stopped having fun and the energy didn’t lapse throughout the many musical sets. With most events, there comes a point in the evening where, even if only for a little while, people get bored and tired and end up sitting around waiting for a socially acceptable time to leave. With the catchy music, however, the well fueled crowd never slowed. My feet were aching from heels that were a little too high for dancing in and I was definitely more than a little sleep deprived, but there was no point during the night at which I wanted to stop dancing. The ball had the most amazing atmosphere, with wonderful decorations and spectacular entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed all the acts of the night, but the one that really got me moving was The Correspondents. Ian Bruce and Chucks are truly two of the most amazing performers I have ever seen – Bruce’s dance moves were definitely the whackiest I have witnessed making his performance just that much better. I suppose I should have expected that a ball put on by the Mermaids would have great performances so go figure. Another crowd favorite was student DJ Asquire, also known as Ashton Squires. With fabulous throwback songs and a consistent set, the music kept the ball alive as the clock crawled towards 2AM.
While the evening was a success in my mind, I am torn in determining whether it was worth the 5AM queuing for the ticket and I certainly feel for the poor souls that purchased their glittering wristband on the blackmarket. With fantastic music and a great atmosphere, the ball was a fantastic end note to the semester, but was it anything out of the ordinary event-wise? Perhaps not. In the end, it was the people that made the event a success. We have reached the point in the year where everyone is starting to settle down for revision, and in true St Andrews style the Mermaids made sure that the ball went off with a bang before revision starts in earnest.
Find more photographs from the event here (all photography by Samantha Marcus)