As its name suggests, the Kate Kennedy Club is an organisation founded in 1926 that seeks to maintain town and gown relations, support local Fife charities, and uphold the traditions of the town and the university. Now in its 90th year, the club has had a particularly conspicuous month, with its 90th Procession making headlines throughout a long weekend of St Andrews-centred celebrations. Not quite as historic a tradition as this yearly parade of characters, May Ball still stands as one of our favourite fêtes of semester two, if not the entire year.
Massive, expensive and highly anticipated, May Ball is perhaps the “safest” event in town. Held annually within the first few days of May, the ball never fails to deliver on its time-honoured promise of being the biggest night of the year. A champagne reception, VIP marquee and fairground rides all differentiate this KK ball from the standard Kinkell event. Thanks to the ease of mobile ticket purchasing in lieu of a lengthy queue, May Ball has also become the most accessible large-scale event, as nearly 2,000 guests bought their tickets through FIXR last Wednesday afternoon. Officially sold out less than 24 hours later, May Ball is on course to rival its predecessors in size. No one is keen to pass on the opportunity to let loose with their classmates one last time before exams.
Our collective dedication to attending the ball is particularly impressive considering that it will be held on 1 May, barely twelve hours after the infamous May dip. After pulling an alcohol-fuelled all nighter and sprinting into the North Sea, students will be allowed a single afternoon of rest before boarding the buses to Kinkell Byre. Ball Convenor Fernando Maluf feels that the lack of a break will improve the weekend’s experience: rather than spending the day nursing hangovers, we can continue the post-dip high and end the year with nearly two days of nonstop partying. The choice to place May Ball on the first is sensible: any earlier, and it wouldn’t be May. Any later, and exams would take priority. The dip-Ball partnership is the most logical option afforded to us.
In addition to the expected slew of May Ball staples (La Bamba and bumper cars have been confirmed), Fernando has arranged for a variety of acts and freebies. DJ Ben Pearce will be headlining the event, providing deep house music to the always crowded main room. Best known for his hit single “What I Might Do,” Pearce has travelled the world in his capacity as a DJ and music producer, repeatedly proving his remixing prowess and guaranteeing a danceable night anywhere he plays. Also making an appearance: Sax n Beats, an all-female amalgamation of bongoes, saxophones and DJing. In the VIP marquee, five further acts will be playing throughout the night as guests treat themselves to champagne popsicles and Janettas ice cream, the incentives for shelling out the extra £25 to make the jump from classic to VIP.
As always, May Ball will benefit several Scottish charities. This year, proceeds will go towards Home-Start, which seeks to improve the lives of struggling families and young children; Children 1st, which is dedicated to preventing child abuse and promoting children’s rights throughout Scotland; Unite Against Cancer, a Scottish charity focused on raising money for cancer research and increasing awareness of the various treatments available to cancer sufferers; Families First, a St Andrews-based support network for families with young children; and Alzheimer Scotland, the leading dementia organisation in Scotland, which campaigns for the rights of people with dementia and their families. Since one of the KK’s primary goals is to raise money for local charities, the charitable goal of May Ball is of utmost importance. Students may attend predominantly for the sake of having a good time, but ultimately the steep prices can be attributed to the non-profit nature of the ball and club.
Unlike Opening Ball, this is not a night reserved for freshers acquainting themselves with black tie: from first years to postgrads, every student strives to make an appearance, as demonstrated by the literally thousands of photos uploaded of last year’s May Ball. Despite the tiered tickets and seemingly inaccessible dinner ballot, the ball is potentially the single most unifying event in St Andrews. Keen freshers, jaded fourth years, tutors and alumni will all ride the same buses from St Andrews to Kinkell Byre to experience the ball that has set the precedent for its contemporaries, as the oft-imitated champagne reception and familiar fairground rides provide us with the perfectly St Andrean event to cap off the year. Whether VIP or classic, we can all come together to spend one final stress-free night dancing with our friends.