Thursday night saw the annual sports ball hosted at the Fairmont. The event is one of the last black tie events in St Andrews, with set tickets and tables assigned to each sports club within the Athletic Union. The evening includes dinner and a ceilidh, making it one of the highlights of the Saints Sports year and this year, Sports Ball returned to St Andrews after a short two year stint at Dundee-based venues.
The night began on a low note due to a long wait for buses to take guests to the Fairmont, with many guests opting to pay for a taxi instead of waiting in the lengthy queues. Once arrived, there was an opportunity to check coats and grab some of those all-important group arrival photos. Here, the queueing continued: the wait to get into the tables was around forty minutes, and guests grew restless in the somewhat cramped conditions of the makeshift reception area. The bar was open, however many people were put off buying drinks so early in the evening due to their high prices.
Once let into the venue, teams quickly found their assigned seating and kicked off a fun night of activities. Several teams organised games and challenges, breaking up what would have otherwise have been a very long evening. The announcement of the best sports club, this year going to the Hockey Club, also served to relieve the monotony of the night.
The main fault of the event came down to its slow pace. The wait to get into the venue and then the wait to be served dinner (the main course was not served until close to 10pm) created a lethargy which crept into every aspect of the night. The food however, was worth the wait and the waiting staff at the Fairmont performed their jobs flawlessly.
The evening experienced a dark shift when friendly banter evolved into a drunken disaster. The bar at the Fairmont closed at 10pm due to the intoxication levels of many guests. The decision presented a problem for those teams who had paced themselves relatively well throughout the evening as they were then unable to purchase wine during the meal. This is not a critique of the event itself, but rather of the behaviour surrounding the sports culture here in St Andrews.
The dinner was the followed by a ceilidh. Although the dance floor was small, many guests still made the best of it. The band were very helpful in their instructions, and they played a lively, well-rounded set.
Buses on the return journey to the Union, where the after party took place, were far better organised than our initial transportation. The transition from the dinner to the after party, logistically, was quite smooth. Club 601 proved itself to be a suitable venue for the after party, as athletes who were unable to get dinner tickets could easily join their teammates on the dancefloor. Ultimately, however, the after party did not differentiate itself from any Sinners that came before it. Although not problematic, per say, it lacked the special shine that I was hoping for from the last Saints Sports event of the year.
Sports Ball will need a serious logistical rethink for next year if it is to retain its title as one of the most anticipated events of the Saints Sports calendar.