It’s hard to go wrong with a graduation ball. As long as the essential combination of a host of recent graduates and flowing alcohol is met, it is sure to result in a deluge of reminiscences, dancing and festivity. Having met this basic criteria, as well as adding on a flourish of extra cherries on the cake, the Students’ Association’s Graduation and Summer Ball 2015 was – as expected – a hit.
Organised by outgoing Director of Events and Services, Leon O’Rourke, the ball was not only a goodbye to the graduates, but goodbye to Leon’s superb event planning in the Union this year. It was a fitting last hurrah. The standard ball tent on Lower College Lawn was spiced up by splitting it into two separate rooms with two separate stages. This meant that those who wished to bop up and down to house DJs could do so spiritedly, whilst the rest of us were spared the headache. A smaller tent outside also provided alternative music.
On the main stage, the night kicked off with a ceilidh courtesy of music from The Kilrymont Ceilidh Band. Possibly the last ceilidh those leaving Scotland will ever take part in, after four years, many still had no idea what they were doing. It was a cracking start to the evening nonetheless.
They were followed by Sünta and by the ever popular Black Sheep Music Society, both of whom played an array of great covers which had everyone dancing. Flashy ice sculptures, one of which captured Sallies chapel complete with ‘PH’, added a dash of lavishness to the event. The ball-standard Janetta’s ice-cream was jazzed up by the accompanying pic-and-mix and some decadent chocolate fountains. A Blackhorn van provided welcome chips and burgers to the masses, probably doing Dervish out of some business.
However, the admirable attempt to find a ‘big name’ headline act turned out to be somewhat of a flop. There was enough excitement when the The Hoosiers made their initial appearance at 1am. But the band was disappointing. With the majority of the audience only knowing one or two of the band’s songs and the band themselves sounding pretty rusty – having been out of the limelight since their debut album was released in 2007 – they weren’t the best choice. Yes, the crowd continued to dance and things picked up a little with their final song, Goodbye Mr A. Yet it may have been wiser to stick to a cheery cover band rather than bring in a band that people “kind-of-maybe” remember.
The night therefore ended on a rather disappointing note. By the end of The Hoosiers set, many people had already left. The promised confetti drop at the end of the night never came, replaced by an abrupt end to the music and a gradual shuffling out of tipsy graduates before the doors where shut.
There were the usual ball flaws; the crowded bar, the pretty expensive drinks, the ridiculous queue for the ladies’ bathroom. The separate cocktail bar was a nice touch, as was the pimms and alcoholic slushy bar. Yet with few people actually queuing for these quirky beverages, the bar staff manning the slush machine looked increasingly bored. Serving a limited selection of other drinks at this bar could have alleviated some of the pressure on the other side of the room. The same goes for the designated champagne bar. Maybe it wouldn’t be St Andrews without some bubbly, but only serving £40 bottles at a cash only bar seemed a bit insane. A by-the-glass option or a cheaper alternative to the branded champagne would have been nice.
But all in all, the last ball of the year was arguably the best. With enough going on to keep everyone entertained, it was a fitting goodbye to life in the bubble. Indeed, Grad Ball perfectly captured the essence of St Andrean balls, with all the good and bad that would entail.