It was with slight trepidation that I, amongst the James Bonds and Miss Moneypennys of St Andrews, descended upon Lower College Hall for the annual DRA/FP ball. Arrival was slightly miss-timed as, due to a minor backlog in coat-check, we had to stand in the bitter cold for a while. However, once in the marquee, the queue was not long. In fact, the committee had installed two separate coat-checks, which was much appreciated considering this being such an issue at other events.
Entering the enormous marquee, it was clear much thought and consideration had been put into the presentation of the event. Taking full advantage of the large space afforded to them, the committee blended dancefloor and casino perfectly. With plentiful seating areas, filled with sofas and sweets, scenes from various James Bond films projected onto the walls, and a model classic Aston Martin, the scene was set and ready, marked with many a photo opportunity. A clear highlight was the black jack and roulette tables; exchanging a mere £1 bought you £20 worth of chips, and with some beginners’ luck, it was easy to gamble your way to victory.
The music was another success of the event, with Franco blasting out some fantastic covers, with the whole crowd dancing and singing along, whether under the light bulb canopy dancefloor, or desperately hoping for an ace at the black jack tables. The DJ arrived at midnight, and continued the well-above-par music standard, playing an interesting yet oddly satisfying mixture of latest hits and throwbacks.
The clever layout of the bar, running almost the entire length of the tent, meant queues were very short, and the friendly DRA bar staff were very efficient. A quirky signature DRA cocktail could be had for only £2, and free Janetta’s ice-cream, popcorn and discounted Blackhorn (free for those who purchased ticket offers) continued to sweeten the deal. Combined with a caricature artist, professional photographer and the gambling tables, it was an easily enjoyable atmosphere, and definitely set the event apart from the average ball.
However, it is hard not to acknowledge the controversy that has somewhat overshadowed the event. The St Andrews rumour mill has churned stories regarding certain aspects of the ball, such as the change in location and costly ticket price. Taking to YikYak, students vented their frustration at the ball, which had been completely free to residents last year. In comparison, this year John Burnett hall ball tickets are on sale for £15 per person, and Sallies hall ball for a mere £5. Considering the high cost of DRA/FP accommodation, it was with no surprise that residents were frustrated at having to spend £15 on ball tickets (£25 for non-residents), resulting in many students saying they would not attend.
That said, committee members are definitely due praise for their valiant effort to pull together such an impressive event. Saturday morning saw YikYak strewn with positive praise; ‘DRA ball was absolutely brilliant! Well done DRAFP committee!’ posted one user. And it is very hard not to agree with them. Upon reflection, £25 for a ball ticket, compared with other events, (FS = £70 or £90, May Ball = £45 or £70) seems reasonable. The care and attention to detail was clear, with amazing music and a great atmosphere, it was the perfect party for any secret agent.