Opening Ball 2015: a taste of black-tie events

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On Saturday 3 October, the Kate Kennedy Club (KKC) will be hosting their annual charity Opening Ball. Regarded as the first major blacktie event of the year, Opening Ball is often seen as the most classic of St Andrean balls. With its champagne reception, as well as music from jazz performers and DJs alike, the KKC have already solidified major expectations for Saturday’s event. Yet the jury is still out amongst St Andrews students: will this year’s Opening Ball impress this year’s Freshers?

In the past, KKC events have faced criticism and have often been regarded as monotonous by the student population. Indeed the stigma surrounding the Opening Ball – often labelled as “just another St Andrean Ball” – has become somewhat ubiquitous: but is it a fair judgement? The Opening Ball will indeed offer the staple ball delights; the experience will be much like any other ball here in St Andrews. Yet as club member Tommy Vermeir explained, “that is very much the point of the ball.” Its underlying framework is specifically designed as an introductory experience for Freshers. What third or fourth years might take for granted – having undoubtedly attended a myriad of seemingly similar St Andrean events – is both new and exciting for those who have just arrived in the Bubble. The magic of the event lies in its smooth introduction to black-tie events, all organised with a distinct air of professionalism.

This year’s event will take place on the Lower College Lawn, an expected location for any St Andrean ball. Yet in spite of having the same location as last year, much will have changed in terms of the event’s layout: small alterations within the marquee will allow for greater access to the bar, while simultaneously creating a more intimate atmosphere on the dance floor.

[pullquote]This year’s event has been meticulously refined and re-worked[/pullquote]

Though the abstract statement that they have a new “10 by 10 marquee” will mean little to the average potential attendee, it does point to the club’s commitment to improving their events. Though it may seem as though Opening Ball 2015 is merely a re-creation of last year’s hit, the event organisers have not complacently assembled a classic KKC event: past criticisms have evidently been acknowledged and improvements made in order to subtly refine the event’s atmosphere.

Aforementioned changes can similarly be seen in the club’s choice of entertainment: Mr Vermeir explained that this year’s event focuses on raising money for their various charities more effectively. Though last year’s ball included more notable headline acts, which were undoubtedly quite popular amongst attendees, recruiting such acts necessitates large funds from the ball budget. As a consequence, the ball organisers decided to spend less on entertainment in order to maximize the money raised for charity. The KKC’s intended recipients of ball profits – ranging from Home Start East Fife, to Children 1st, to Alzheimer Scotland – encompass a range of different issues, all of which are pertinent to the Fife community.

Clearly, the club’s well-crafted direction further reflects the ball’s overarching priority: a welcome to the St Andrews community. This being said, Saturday’s event will feature local DJs, as well as Normanton Street: a jazz influenced hip-hop and soul group, who were discovered by a club member in a small jazz bar in Brussels. Though this mix of genres may seem odd, it will certainly encapsulate the event’s welcoming vibe. Ultimately, it seems that this year’s Opening Ball – an event that may have initially come across as only an echo of past KKC successes – has been meticulously refined and re-worked. We look forward to asking freshers’ if it was everything they had hoped for and more!

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