At the beautiful venue of Younger Hall on 1st March, Bacchanalia presented some of the best music that St. Andrews has to offer, as well as crafting the social aspect of the event around a plethora of eclectic activities. Suggested by the committee to be “like a house party where guests can wear black tie,” I was initially worried – would this event compare to some of the less successful balls, which mimic school discos but with the unnecessary addition of suits? Thankfully, this statement massively undersold Bacchanalia.
With a wide range of live music, Younger Hall was immediately immersed in a better atmosphere than most events. Entering to the jazz of The Roundabout Midnights, the hall felt warm and lively. This acted as a stunning backdrop to the guests who committed themselves to the Ancient Greek theme, clad in ivy and framed in toga-esque dresses. Furthermore, stretched out on a chaise-longue, many of these goddess figures sat for live portraits. This creative ambience wholeheartedly elevated the event’s success.
On entrance, stands distributed glitter face-paint and impermanent tattoos. Although this somewhat reminded me of children’s birthday parties, the nostalgia was received happily. Perhaps it is a shame that such things to do have generally been lost in the transition to adult events; we are now expected to solely talk for hours. In this sense, Bacchanalia has shifted our expectations, placing arts and crafts at the heart of the event.
Particularly enchanting was the downstairs area, coined ‘The Garden of Hesperides’. A midst hanging ivy, temple pillars, and emerald mood lighting, a collection of alluring activities were spread. Notably efficacious was the tarot reader, Rebekah Loughran, who both charmed the guests and left the majority feeling positive regarding their future successes. In the corner of the ‘garden’, representatives from the Art Society and Inklight were working hard on pound portraits and poems. Despite being cast in dim lighting, the artists managed to produce beautiful pieces – always rewarding for the subject. Slightly more contentious was the idea of pound poems. The guests gave their pound and a chosen title, and within a short time the poets would hand over a type-written piece. Although the process was exciting, the result of a rushed poem was not quite as gratifying for the guests. Regardless, having these activities as a central point for guests to socialise around made the event much more compelling, and set guests’ focus on the arts that they came to celebrate.
The serene atmosphere of ‘The Garden of Hesperides’ was complemented by an accordingly tranquil music line-up; Seamus Heath and Matthew McIlree created a particularly enjoyable background soundtrack. Moreover, the addition of clothed and decorated tables, which resembled a romantic candle-lit dinner, provided a space for guests to relax and soak in the ambience.
Due to the more intimate setting of this downstairs area, it cultivated the presence of many guests, but at the expense of the main venue upstairs. The performance of The Other Guys appeared strikingly exaggerated considering the underpopulated audience, and also seemed discordant with the overall vibe of the event. Yet, the wide-ranging line-up ensured that there was something for everyone, and that no performance grew too long. As the night aged, the “drunken revelry,” promised by the promotion for Bacchanalia, became all-encompassing. BPM, however, did not perform as expected, pulling out minutes before the show.
For an event where no one knew what to expect, Bacchanalia was incredibly successful. I look forward to its continuance in future years and hope it will raise the bar for the success of other events.