May Dip vs May Ball: how to survive and thrive

Elischke de Villiers discusses the pros and cons of April 30th.


The Kate Kennedy May Ball. A ball to rule them all, as some would say. It provides the chance to dress up (which, face it, St Andrews students love to do), a world-class headliner and, above all, carnival rides! What student would not want to go? I most certainly was desperate to in my first year. This year, however, this illustrious Ball falls on the night of May Dip – meaning that mere hours after the ball ends, we will be obligated to run into the North Sea.

Now this could either be an excellent opportunity, or a horrible idea. The 2016 May Ball took place on the night after the May Dip, which was, in my opinion, a tragedy. Many a student was too hungover or tired to make the event and many re-sales occurred. After a full night of partying, and a cheeky little 5 am dip in the North Sea, attending another ball was most certainly the last thing on my agenda. I only managed about two hours before opting out for the comfort of my bed.

Traditionally, the night before May Dip is spent stumbling through the cobbled St Andrews streets, dropping out of one house party and into the next, maybe drinking a round at the Union between Bridge and North Street, before finding your way to East Sands just in time for the glorious sunrise, when the multitudes of drunken students around you strip off their clothes and immerse themselves in the cleansing water of the North Sea to separate themselves from their academic sins.

The 2017 May Ball could potentially change that. It could even (maybe) lead to the start of a new tradition. By staging the Ball the night before May Dip, it almost becomes a glorified house party. Rather than trudging through the streets as per usual, ball-goers can stay in one place and party it up, before heading back to town for the Dip. Alcohol, food and entertainment provided in a single location saves time and energy for our sunrise exploits.

But then again, isn’t the roaming around St Andrews in search of the next flat part of the pre-May Dip fun? Will May Ball take this away from us? Obviously you are not required to purchase a ticket (some of you will not even have the choice, as they have sold out in record time), but – like my gushing states previously – May Ball is one heck of a time, and I for one do not want to miss it. As per ball etiquette, May Ball requires formal dress. This means that the heels, make-up and cocktail dresses come out. It requires an enormous amount of effort to get ready for an event – just think of all the photo opportunities!

Although this is not a major player in the negative aspects of the pre-Dip Ball, it is a bit annoying for those of us who are lazy. We will have to prep for a ball-style event, knowing that after all of our efforts, our dresses will be discarded and our make-up washed off in the North Sea. I would rather just be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with my normally unkept hair from the get-go. In the same lazy aspect, the ball is at Kinkell Byre. This is usually quite nice, as it gets one out of the confines of the town for a bit, but on this particular night it may prove annoying. We will have to trek to Kinkell at the start of the night and then be sure that when we catch the bus back to town, we are not too drunk or tired to make it to the beach.

The solution of course is just to go directly to the beach from the ball, but since official St Andrews events have the pesky habit of finishing by 2 am, you would be shivering on the beach for a good couple of hours (and not to mention still be dressed in your finest).

Whether or not this is a good idea, there is nothing to be done. The 2017 Kate Kennedy May Ball will take place on 30 April, with the May Dip happening the next morning. All that is left to do is to prepare accordingly in order to enjoy both events to their fullest potential. Here are some tips to survive the night:

1. Before heading to the Ball, make sure you have all of the necessities for the Dip (like a towel, bathing suit if you are not going in your birthday suit, and some warm clothes) in one place so that you can change easily after you get back from Kinkell. This will help the drunken version of yourselves.

2. Have some cash in the same place for post-Dip food.

3. If you need liquid courage to run into the freezing waters, make sure to have a couple of bevvies left out after the ball.

4. On the same note, do not consume too much at the Ball if you would still like to actually make it back and to the beach. Pace the night – we do not want you passing out before 5 am.

5. Eat before hand, and during the night. Food is endurance.

But above all, make the best of both of these events. Sleep is for the weak!


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