As one would expect for a Halloween night, everybody was out getting spooky in the Union. From the full-blown sunflower costumes to the “a hat will suffice,” it is a big night with varying expectations. Many would have low standards for the Union, justifiably, but the Union delivered a quite a banging night (mostly in 601).-
However, being a sold-out event, I had expected a much larger crowd. Going through the usual bars first, I found it hard to believe that the event had sold out by the crowds I was seeing. It wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t “sold out” level of busy. My only thoughts were that the tickets could’ve been limited to fit a decent capacity of 601 and Main Bar, as the last thing anyone wants after spending £7 for a “whole building event” is to wait outside 601 on the off chance somebody is heading home early or popping out for a smoke so you can venture in yourself.
Sandys was rather quiet most of the night and Beacon and Main Bar had an average crowd, dying down as everybody made their migration to 601 for the festivities. The Main Bar had the generic spiders hanging from the roof and themed drink. At first glance, it didn’t jump out to be a themed event, nothing particularly wrong with that, but just not incredibly exciting. But down at the pool table area the Design Team and Charities Campaign had set up shop, with candy floss for 50p and fortune telling for £1 and a photobooth and costume competition. The fortune teller was a nice touch. Whilst not everybody’s cup of tea, most were in good form about it, with the Charities Campaign giving out fortune cookie style notes, a lovely sentiment provoking some thought.
Sandys’ music and decorations were done by Rock-Soc with an inferno theme. This included fake flames and a red aura filling the area with various genres of music with a rock vibe all around. The area was laid out rather well with a large area for people to dance and a space for seating too, something the Union was not lacking.
Beacon was stylised as a laboratory with the bar staff in lab coats, biohazard tape around the pillars and various equations scribbled over the windows. Whilst not being overly quiet all night, it wasn’t overly packed, with a few tables consistently available. The theme was set rather well with themed cocktails such as “Hello Darkness” being served in beaker-style cups.
601 was definitely the highlight for the night. The stage was surrounded by a large red curtain with fake flames and smoke machines in the corners, and curtains draped from all around the room into the centre of the roof. It was truly mesmerising, almost wasted on the fact it was in 601 (not that anybody is complaining, of course.) They even had the themed drink “El Piablo,” making its return after its debut at North Haugh Ball last year. One can only hope it becomes a St Andrews staple.
A lot of the bar staff appeared to be in costume, too, which was nice for the theme. To the surprise of nobody it got very busy: a sold-out whole building event complimented by the fact that the 601 DJ was actually quite good (and played songs people liked, which was just fantastic), so the midnight out bevved up sing-alongs were in full flow. That was all good in while it lasted. The fire alarm went off which was a bit of a damper to the mood (shockingly).
I was fortunate enough to be in Sandys at the time and avoid the flurry of people leaving 601 and Main Bar. What happened can only be left as conjecture. Of course, the consensus among some is that the night was drawing to a close, so let’s all head to our dining establishment of choice. And that’s exactly what people did. Everywhere was flooded out the doors; I can only wish that the Toastie Bar was open. To be fair to the Union staff, the management of the crowd outside was done well, with many loitering outside the Union all asking same question, “Can we get another Pablo?” – it was only 1am after all.
The people were not let down: after only waiting outside for about 20 minutes, the doors were open again. The checks at the door were much more rapid this time round, yet there was a rather large queue into the 601 foyer (just for people to get their jackets and head home, it seemed). That being said, within another 15 minutes, 601 was back to full flow, albeit with a smaller crowd. The thinning of the crowd made the 601 experience a lot more tolerable for the last half hour of the night. Being able to walk from one end of the floor to the other without receiving several elbows in the stomach was rather refreshing, compared to the hectic atmosphere earlier in the night.
All-in-all it was a fairly good night out (besides the obvious hassle of the fire alarm), with a definite note to the music and the decoration, the latter clearly having taken many man-hours and a fair bit of thought to get looking good. If it was only a bit busier in the other bars, perhaps it could have been even better.