The Kate Kennedy Club Charity Opening Ball originates from a place of nostalgia. Even in their waning years as St Andreans, older students may look back on Facebook albums from their first ball, retroactively recognising their future friends and teammates in the backgrounds of photographs. This sentimentality continues to attract guests to the Lower College Lawn-based event, where returners and freshers alike can enjoy an evening of ice cream and house music.
Although anchored by tradition, the ball may still offer some surprises. This year, in particular, differentiated itself greatly from previous iterations of Opening Ball, which itself was a peerless triumph in the hands of Ball Convenor Tom Higginson.
Packed to capacity, the main marquee contained a host of attractions: popcorn, ice cream, a dancefloor and (naturally) alcohol. The bar, courtesy of the Union, was a marked improvement upon past years’ balls. Hoping to avoid queueing and to provide a better aesthetic, Higginson arranged for a square-shaped bar in the centre of the room. This allowed the bar staff to serve quicker, aided by the concentrated collection of spirits within the square. Queues grew shorter, guests grew drunker, and the general atmosphere became one of tipsy delight.
Another significant change made for this year’s Opening Ball could be found outside of the main marquee. Within this smaller tent, a full stage had been erected, a great leap ahead of the small DJ booth that we have come to expect. The DJs – first TEA and later Asquire – danced above the crowd, shining like beacons within a sea of smoke and flashing lights. Both acts were genius bookings on the part of Higginson. TEA (who can be found at The Rule on Friday 7 October) continue to revolutionise the local nightlife with their eclectic range of music. Asquire, meanwhile, remains a St Andrean icon, his skill evident in his easy analysis of the late-night crowd.
The main stage boasted an equally impressive lineup. Joe Grimeh opened the night, his signature mixing skills welcoming hundreds of eager freshers into the marquee. The London-based band Hows Harry followed, an inspired headlining act who proved themselves to be massive hits with the crowd. The presence of a live band alleviated any sense of monotony that an exclusively DJ lineup may have invoked. Visen and later Scotty G were both welcome additions to the stage in the wake of the band, as they each ensured a consistent beat for the remaining hours of the night.
Few institutions are as entrenched in our town’s culture as the Kate Kennedy Club. After 90 years of charitable activities, they continue to excel in their many high profile events. Party-goer Harry Jose described the night as “spectacular,” while fourth year Rina Agboraw praised the music and venue design. Opening Ball 2016 checked every box necessary for a fabulous event, and we can all raise our glasses in gratitude towards the KK in anticipation of a marvellous May Ball.