May dip: should St Andrews take the plunge?

Illustration: Nicole Slyusareva
Illustration: Nicole Slyusareva
Illustration: Nicole Slyusareva

It is indisputable that May dip is one of the biggest events of second semester. It invites the same amount of excitement and trepidation as Raisin Weekend and just as much controversy. Every year the University warns us against drunkenness, littering and the consequences of antisocial behaviour that inevitably seem to occur when you mix a 5 am rise with a visit to East Sands. To be fair, on paper, May dip appears a little bit insane. Why on earth would anyone want to run into the North Sea at the crack of dawn?

As I write this in mid April, St Andrews is as dismal as ever: rainy, windy and cold. I highly doubt the temperatures will resemble that of Greece or wherever you took your spring break. I bet, when catching up with your friends from back home, you have confided in them about this glorious activity only to have them respond with incredulity, their mouths open in mock horror. Taking all of this into consideration, why would you take the plunge? Who wants to catch a bout of pneumonia before their upcoming exams? Then again, when do we, as St Andrews students, ever do anything by the book? Who wouldn’t want to do something as unique as May dip?

Asking around about people’s thoughts on May dip, I found few negatives discussed. The event has a kind of mythical status around here. It is accepted almost as fact that nearly ever single St Andrews student will plunge into the sea on 1 May.

Thanks to the University, littering and antisocial behaviour is not acceptable. But I think, like Raisin, we can consign these worries to the minority. The only argument I found against the dip concerned May Ball. In the entirety of second semester, May dip and May Ball (how apt) are the two largest and most significant events. Interestingly, this year both events fall on the same day. Rise and dip at 5 am, head to May Ball at around 7 pm. It seems that this year’s May Ball may be one experienced on a hangover and with some serious sleep deprivation. Many expressed the same sentiment: a cosy night’s sleep in their bed seems the more sensible option, especially given the £45 or £70 price tag of a May Ball ticket.

This attitude seems a little weak. Let’s not forget that for some, May dip is not a choice: Commit academic incest, wear your gown wrong, or St Andrews’ latest catwalk experience brings something new and uniquely inclusive to the runway step on the PH, and it is your only salvation. It is, for most of us, a tradition that we are unlikely to experience later in life. Every single person I spoke to expressed pride in the fact that May dip is an age old St Andrews institution. We are all, in one way or another, proud to be at St Andrews, and what better way to celebrate this small, quirky university than with a unique event?

May dip unites friends and sports teams alike. I think we can agree that spending time with your favourite people and watching the beautiful Scottish sunrise together in your beach towels sounds great. May dip brings out the daredevil within us. There is no better rush than diving into the sea in freezing temperatures when you have spent most of first semester swathed in layers of jumpers and scarves. Whilst the five second dip may not be so appealing, May dip is not just about your morning at the beach: it’s an all night event. It is a chance to attend some of the best parties and pres available here. With the Vic closing at 2 am, you’re not exactly going to pass out for three hours for fear of missing the dip in the first place. After parties will ensue!

The entire event allows for some spontaneity in St Andrews, where most of our nighttime activities are planned with military precision and are as slick as can be. What’s more, with exams commencing on 10 May and revision week beginning even earlier this year, it is a chance to let off some steam. What could be a better revision break than an all night bender finished with some saltwater? Talk about a good hangover cure! There is nothing more exciting than the feeling of that two degree water on your bones.

So, in answer to the big question, “Should we take the plunge?“ The answer is absolutely yes. Whether you want to avoid failing those exams, blow off some steam or take possibly one of the best Instagrams of your life, May dip is an unavoidable part of St Andrews life. I can’t imagine a single person who would not regret taking part at least once in their four years. It is one of the traditions that makes St Andrews so special and makes us all proud to be students here.



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