The sight of slightly inebriated revellers in full black tie battling through the cold is not unfamiliar in St Andrews. However, this time they were not heading to Kinkell Byre or Lower College Lawn, instead they were heading to a more unusual location, Younger Hall, for a night of ‘drunken revelry and ritual madness’ that was Bacchanalia.
What was immediately striking upon entry was the attention to detail and the creativity put into the decorations, from the tie-dye banners and the fairy lights, to the home-made bunting and the gold fringe decorating the walls, providing many a photo opportunity.
Downstairs, in the Stewart Room, the décor added to the more relaxed vibe, as guests could lie on the chaise longue or on the blankets and pillows on the floor. Some of the decorations took on a more practical purpose, as attendees could experience the specifically textured wallpapers, particularly the bubble wrap. I for one was very grateful for a calmer place to sit when I wanted a break from the main room.
The two different spaces were also used effectively to host the many different acts that come to perform. The Stewart Room was mainly a celebration of smaller acts, such as the guitar and voice duet (Emily Smith and Beth Cairns) and a recognition of individual musical talent, including Ali Brady, Grace Que and Seamus Heath. The room also provided a suitably intimate setting for slam poetry and improv comedy. Eventually, the performance area opened up as an open mic space, allowing anyone the opportunity to showcase their own talents. This area was, I believe, most in keeping with the event’s aim to allow St Andrews artists the opportunity to express themselves in an open environment.
That is not to say, however, that what we might expect from a St Andrews event, a good dance, was lacking. The stage in the main room hosted a wide variety of acts, from the Sax Quartet to The Other Guys, ending in typical Friday night style with music from DJ Sam Bunce. Shimmy Society was a particular favourite, with many ball-goers casting aside their drinks, and inhibitions, in order to get a good view.
What the committee must truly be commended on is their ability to create an event during which it was almost impossible to get bored. I flitted from the gold face-painters in the hall-way, to Inklight’s £1 poetry stall, to have my own attempt at life-drawing (which was predictably unsuccessful) and finally onto the little stone room in which my fortune was read to me by a tarot-card reader. Inevitably, my surprised reaction that another student could know so much about my future was aided by the bar’s quick service and the ‘black and gold shot’ (gold lustre and chocolate liqueur) which aided the fast descent into tipsiness without the somewhat unpleasant aftertaste of a traditional vodka or tequila shot.
Overall, although Bacchanalia was not as busy as some of the larger scale events in St Andrews, it was refreshing to not have to quite literally shove through throngs of people just to find lost friends or get to the bar, yet still enjoy an atmosphere that buzzed with people genuinely having a good time. It was pleasant to see so many people celebrating the wealth of talent in this town, whether they were supporting friends in the acts or simply experiencing new forms of art. I might have woken up with gold glitter still stuck to my face, along with a wealth of embarrassing photos of myself and my friends apparently taken on my phone that night, but I felt safe in the knowledge that Bacchanalia, at a mere £16, was worth every penny.