Everybody knows the last couple weeks of November in St Andrews are rough. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s windy and your calendar is filling with deadlines for coursework you’re yet to start. If only there was some kind of event you could look forward to which would relieve you (temporarily albeit) from the turmoil! Fear not: Mermaids has you covered. A sell-out event every time, the performing arts fund hosts the Christmas Ball annually for the greater good of the student body. This year at the Kinkell Byre (a funky barn venue 10 minutes from St Andrews) the theme was The Polar Express – adorable.
If you choose to attend one ball in your academic year, I’d strongly advise you to consider Christmas ball. The issue with many events in St Andrews where the tickets cost over £20 is that I leave them feeling I would have been better off with a night in 601 – cheaper, sillier, and I’m not wearing heels or a dress I’ll have to tentatively handwash because I’m scared of putting it in my dodgy student washing machine. Christmas Ball is a pretty large exception to this feeling – in a gorgeous venue which is dripping in Christmassy decorations, with live entertainment, a huge dance floor, and a tempting (and much needed) variety of food stalls, it’s really hard to leave Christmas ball feeling unfulfilled.
For the pre-event in the Main Bar of the Union, the TVs are monumentally switched from a miscellaneous sports channel to a never-ending video of a roaring fire – will I be recreating this in our flat living room? Yes. Buses run from the Union straight to Kinkell Byre, and this is an ideal time to check out outfits in the Union lighting before delicately and elegantly stepping up into your coach (the way I grasped those rails and dragged myself up was unholy) and making your way to the Christmassy little haven which is Kinkell Byre during Christmas Ball.
The night kicked off with a couple of acapella performances that will make you wish you had pulled an Anna Kendrick and joined an acapella group to live out your pitch perfect dream. The marquee staged performances from both The Hummingbirds and The Accidentals who performed both classic Christmassy numbers (Last Christmas being a personal favourite) and some fun pop numbers (Taylor Swift fans were especially rewarded). Meanwhile on the Main Stage, The Collective performed what I believe to be one of the best sets of the night. Would I have attended for The Collective alone? Yeah. Probably I would have, yes. If you’re a Jazz Night fan then you would have been in your element, boogying to funky classics such as Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive as performed by The Collective.
The night was concluded then with DJ sets from both Becka Clark and Rory MacLean which lasted until 1.45am. I have to admit, whilst I am and will always remain a pub over club girl, I did partake in a boogie to the eclectic mix of pop, disco, and classical (you had to be there) tunes which were pumped over the dance floor.
If you – like myself – were teetotalling for the evening, you’ll be glad to know that water was free and readily available up until about 1.30am when I believe they may have run out, but not before passing out bottled water. Alongside this, there was a mocktail option menu which I unfortunately did not have the ple§§asure of trying, as I did in fact forget to bring cash for the cash only bar, but it was nice to know she was there. The cocktails, incidentally, I will be recreating when I go home for Christmas and I will be pretending I made them up myself. Sorry, Christmas Ball. Hot chocolate and chilli vodka sounds too good to miss.
What more can I say to persuade you? If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket before they sell out, which you can buy from the Union website for £40-42 depending on whether you catch early bird release, fear not at spending nearly fifty quid on a ball ticket. This is probably going to be the one you feel like was actually worth it. And if you’re still uncertain about that big spend, write for The Record and get your ticket for free next year with a press pass.
Photo credits: Lousia Anderbjörk