It’s been a long year.
Collectively, we have experienced thirty-seven balls, six fashion shows, one not-so-secret garden party, one actual secret garden party, seven Sinners, and enough launch events to shake a stick at (after writing a preview about that stick and charging you for the privilege of shaking it). As exams loom on the horizon, it feels fitting to pause and appreciate any time spent outside of the library.
During our peregrination from Freshers’ to Revision, we endured the best of times when the polo team showered us with champagne, and the worst of times when the Union reached capacity on Halloween. We witnessed the strangest of happenings, such as the second coming of the Rule or Under Canvas being cancelled. Welly Ball lost our coats, DRA Ball started charging residents, and Azeem graced the Club 601 stage with his presence. The Kate Kennedy Club and my great-grandmother both turned ninety. Tea House emerged as a phrase that indicates a cracking night out, rather than a place for oolong and earl grey. Ayton House opened its doors to students, and left them open as fire alarms drove those same students onto the streets at various hours of the night. There were even alpacas at the library.
Like a card minimum being enforced at a bar that previously had no card minimum, the year has taken some adjusting to. In hindsight, the high and low points of the past two semesters have distinguished themselves, establishing a topography of apexes and nadirs that make the St Andrews event scene so enjoyably diverse. We may look back with a newfound respect for every committee who made such apogees possible, and support those who still have room for improvement.
Oktoberfest was the best event of the year. Its quality lay in its individuality: no other event could mimic the influx of internationals, the assortment of dirndls and lederhosen (and the odd Beavers shirt), or the startling amount of imported food and drink. Other committees may look to Oktoberfest as an example of top-notch organisation, but none can attempt to encapsulate what makes the day so extraordinary.
Although not quite a match for the beer fest, Nobel Ball deserves an honourable mention for its success in differentiating itself from the standard dinner and dancing event. At £55 per ticket, the Scandinavian Society provided a bottle of wine per person and a three course meal, served alongside slews of shots purchased by table guests throughout the night. The ball included speeches from committee members, a brief sojourn to the Society Room, and an afterparty that ensured a suitable hangover for every guest. With the infamous Crayfish Dinner, legendary Afterski, and iconic pilgrimage to Edinburgh’s Ikea all included amongst their annual events, the Scandinavian Society is certainly the most consistent host of marvellous days and nights for Scandos and non-Scandos alike.
If the Scandinavians’ events have earned them the title of best society, then it is on a similar basis that the Hockey Club may be considered the best club of 2015/2016. Wayback Wednesdays, Race Night, and an assortment of Vic, Ma Bells, and Club 601-based events all make the hockey boys and girls the most prolific of our university sports clubs. A dedication to their weekly socials and to the theme of this year’s Hockey Ball further established them as one of the most passionate clubs in town.
The lacrosse girls’ Tequila Tuesdays also warrant praise, and the golf boys must be commended for a show of good taste in selecting Hams Hame as the location of their socials.
Further highlights of the year include: the Kate Kennedy Club’s Ninetieth Anniversary Weekend, the launches of satirical magazine The Nibble and local rickshaw business Chariots of Hire, and Reeling Society’s phenomenal white tie ball.
If you were to show a tourist a twelve hour queue for a party in a barn, they would likely laugh. If you explained that the party offered nothing remarkable beyond a chocolate fountain, the tourist would then leave St Andrews, likely never to return.
I am referring to Christmas Ball. The final ball of semester one and, arguably, the biggest black tie event before May Ball, the Mermaids consistently sell out amidst high profile ticket sales. Advertising the sales as an event unto itself, the committee faced criticism from the mobs of students who, after queuing from 2 am, were turned away at the door. Despite featuring the Other Guys and mince pies, the queuing was less an “event” and more a massive inconvenience, regardless of one’s success in obtaining a hallowed Harry Potter-branded ticket.
While the Mermaids deserve recognition for organising the regularly in-demand ball, their dedication to upholding such an unpopular tradition is questionable, to say the least, particularly in the light of the Kate Kennedy Club’s decision to release May Ball tickets exclusively online. The ball itself, although beautifully decorated, suffered for the sole reason of not being worth the wait (to be fair, not many things are.)
Speaking of events tainted by queueing, Starfields stands a step above the rest for the manifest mismanagement that marred the entire evening. The horrendously understaffed bars, underwhelming music acts, and entrance system that could best be described as poor, all contributed to a thoroughly underwhelming event. FS itself, while enjoyable, faced its own set of hiccups: Wristband-less “guests” threw themselves upon the runway, unfettered by any sort of security, and afterparty attendees arrived to faltering music and depleted bars. In the capable hands of Director William Klinteberg, FS 2017 will undoubtedly improve on all marks!
Alongside Starfields, Freshers’ Week 2015 saw the launch of the Society Room. Advertised as an extension to Ma Bells, the Society Room partnered with DONT WALK for its opening night on the first Tuesday of the year, intending to set a crucial precedent for many Ma Bells Tuesdays to come. Sold-out, the event did not disappoint in terms of capacity; however, the titular Society Room lacked a certain flair, and it failed to live up to its own burgeoning reputation. Insipid and unimaginative, the room matches Ma Bells as far as decor goes: minimal furniture and a single, overcrowded bar. Useful on Tuesday nights when the main room becomes too sweaty, the Society Room is otherwise a fairly derivative addition to the growing list of local venues. When, as on many nights, the room remains closed to the public, its absence is not felt.
If this year were to be graded, it would receive a respectable 2:1. The pros far outweighing the cons, 2015/2016 has been a period of magnificent transformation for St Andrews, as our enterprising student body continues to excel in its variety of undertakings. Even the so-called “disappointments” still can be considered impressive, as it is only in St Andrews that such events may not match the quality of their imposing peers. For now, we may be content in the knowledge that this year has concluded on an indelible note, and embark upon our summer holidays with the intention of getting to a far, far better rest than we have ever known.