Arts and culture editor Laszlo Szegedi sat down with two members of the Chinese HongPao society committee to preview their upcoming Mandarin Rouge Ball. Besides the attractions of the event, Dwayne Yin and Sissi Xia also went into detail about the prospects of the society.
Laszlo Szegedi: How do you describe the Chinese society for those interested in joining?
Dwayne Yin: Essentially, the society provides a platform which welcomes students interested in learning about Chinese culture or studying Mandarin. Our goal is to have a group where we can socialise and get to know each other out of classes. You don’t always become close friends with the people you meet here, so we try to offer the opportunity to socialise and bond.
Sissi Xia: Besides this, we try to introduce students to the influence of Chinese culture through various events; for example, we have a tea party in the beginning of every year, where we drink traditional Chinese tea.
LS: You mentioned the option of studying Mandarin. Do you have language classes?
SX: Yes, we have language classes. They’re led by student volunteers, and they’re totally free. Anyone interested in learning Mandarin can come.
LS: Mandarin Rouge Ball is a large event compared to your other society gatherings. What made the Chinese society decide to organize their own ball?
DY: This year will be the third time we’re organizing it. I was on the subcommittee two years ago, and I was thinking to myself, a lot of societies have their own black tie events, so why don’t we have one? It was a great opportunity to promote Chinese culture, and incorporate a Chinese essence into the ball formula to make it unique compared to others. It is not just one where you eat and drink but one where you can learn something and actually immerse yourself in the cultural environment and enjoy the night. In the past years, the ball was at Hotel du Vin, with the programme being a relatively small dinner followed by a dancing session. To make it even better this year, we decided to change the venue to the Hill of Tarvit Mansion in Cupar, which has a history dating back more than a hundred years. We will decorate it with Chinese elements to give it an appropriate look. We will also have a chef to create a special fusion menu specifically for the event.
LS: What will you have on the menu?
DY: At the moment, we have several appetizers planned, mainly cold dishes. These are followed by the options of lobster with a hot Japanese-style rice ball, and beef rib southeast Asian style. The desert will be a traditional Chinese sweet papaya soup. The ball is scheduled to start before night-time, at around 4:30 p.m. Our guests can arrive early and enjoy the sunlight, have some champagne, and get to know each other under the canopies.
LS: What makes this Mandarin Rouge Ball different from the previous ones?
DY: We want to make this ball more than just about dancing and getting drunk. We’re aiming at the introverts: we’ll be having a show and an overarching theme during the night.
SX: We have themes every year to set them apart from previous ones. Last year we presented a traditional wedding. We put on the show between the two main courses at the dinner, this year the theme is “Singles’ Day”. It’s a festival known in China as Guangun Jie, and takes place on 11 November every year. The choice of day comes from the four ones: “1111”. It is of course aimed at single people, and we will spice it up with the style of a very famous Chinese TV show, If You Are the One. It is very similar to Take Me Out and is built on a similar pattern. We believe this is a great idea to bring more excitement to the night. Mandarin Rouge Ball is going to be big this year, there is actually a huge demand for it, since the Chinese societies in major universities in the UK organize events based on the tradition of If You Are the One, and it was about time that we had our own.
LS: How much are the tickets going to be?
DY: ₤45 for members, and ₤50 for non-members. We will not be making any profit out of this, and we believe it’s a fair value in St Andrews.
LS: What other Chinese society events should students keep an eye out for?
DY: I’ve mentioned the tea party. We also have an adoption party sometime in the first weeks; these are for students who didn’t get the chance to be adopted. Our biggest event every year is the New Year Gala, it’s almost like a cultural festival. We put on student performances in the Byre, the average attendance goes up to 350 people, it’s definitely our largest event.
The Chinese HongPao society’s Mandarin Rouge Ball will take place next week, on 21 October. Link to the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/184572972113390/