Just over a year ago, the front page of The Saint’s website was hit with now-infamous breaking news: The annual Saints LGBT+ ball, Glitterball, had been cancelled two days before its scheduled date after part of its marquee was blown into the North Sea by the Beast from the East snowstorm.
As an optimistic fresher who had purchased a ticket for the 2018 Glitterball as soon as they went on sale, I was deeply disappointed to hear that the event had been cancelled; thus, my first thought when I heard the news was, “No matter what, I am definitely buying a ticket for Glitterball next year,” a sentiment which was likely shared by most 2018 Glitterball ticket-holders. With this, the Glitterball committee certainly had high expectations from most everyone in attendance on Saturday, as some had been waiting for this night for two years.
As I walked into the marquee on Saturday night, covered in glitter and dressed in head-to-toe sequins, I was immediately blown away by the venue itself, including the rainbow-striped carpet of the marquee, multicoloured lighting that made for stunning photos, and the stage which appeared like a technicoloured space cannon of which performers would be launched out. To anyone who did not attend, I highly recommend viewing photos of the event space and these decorations, as verbal descriptions do not give them justice. The location of the Spanish Gardens particularly set Glitterball apart from other balls at Lower College Lawn or Kinkell Byre, as the event had the isolation from the rest of the town like Kinkell Byre yet the prime location (across from St Salvator’s Hall) of Lower College Lawn.
As for what lay inside the marquee, my main complaint was that Glitterball could have offered more food vendors or options. While one burger food truck was located outside the main entrance, there was notably no Janetta’s ice cream offered inside the marquee, no other food vendors outside, and no free snacks, like popcorn or cotton candy which often appear at other balls.
In terms of drinks, however, Glitterball offered a range of specialty cocktails, along with “pablos”, at what seemed to be a reasonable price for a high-tiered ball, a notable change from the overpriced selection of alcoholic beverages at Kinkell Byre events. That being said, I must note that Glitterball provided an environment where one didn’t need to drink to have fun, evident with much shorter queues at the bar compared to events like the Kate Kennedy Opening Ball or Mermaids’ Christmas Ball. A majority of attendees were constantly on the dance floor, socialising with old and new friends, or enjoying the many acts offered on the main stage, and the happiness of all the attendees seemed to be induced by the music, good company, and “gay” environment.
A small critique, the marquee could have included more seating and tables for those who did just want to socialise and take a break from dancing, as that half of the venue did seem strikingly without much furniture or props, but such did encourage attendees to make their way to the dance floor and enjoy themselves there.
The highlight of the event, Glitterball certainly did not disappoint with its main stage performances, presenting a variety of high-quality acts throughout the night. Standout acts included Jazzworks, Blue Angels and Saints of Seoul dance groups, and headliner Vivacious. The idea to include dance groups as acts for a ball is a nuanced one, but it worked seamlessly with the ambiance of Glitterball and should be considered by other balls and events looking for performers.
As someone who was unaware of who Vivacious is and remains generally unfamiliar with drag culture, I loved the excitement from the crowd when the headliner first took the stage and how everyone dance and sang along. The Glitterball committee should be commended for arranging such a headliner, and particularly their efforts to make Vivacious accessible by organising a meet-and-greet before the ball for winners of a Facebook contest.
In regards to the music, I was overwhelmed by the quality of Jazzworks as a cover band having never seen them perform before. If I had to issue one critique about the entertainment side of Glitterball, I would only suggest that Jazzworks would have performed again later in the evening, as the music for the last hour of the ball, when the event was still considerably busy, seemed stale and unfamiliar in comparison to the lively, sing-a-long nature of Jazzworks’ earlier performance.
After an unfortunate, last-minute cancellation of the event last year, Glitterball 2019 redefined itself, particularly to first- and second-year students who had never attended before, as the happiest ball in St Andrews. From its start to end, the Glitterball marquee was filled with people who seemed as though they could have danced and enjoyed the event all night long. The elaborate outfits by all, a completely rainbow-coloured space, and nonstop entertainment made for an unforgettable night, and I think I speak for most attendees when I say that I’m already planning my outfit and loading up on glitter for next year’s ball.