Big Top Ball – the great Charities Ball – ended up being a very nice night out. While there were a couple minor hiccups, it was good fun and a great end to another incredible On The Rocks festival.
The gorgeous tents, which have been on Lower College Lawn since Wednesday, provided a stunning setting for a circus-themed ball. Unfortunately, as with any ball taking place in a tent in Scotland, it ended up being chilly even inside the tents, which meant that groups of people congregated in front of the hot air vents to thaw legs and used the heat lamps to defrost their faces. Coupled with the cloakroom being in School 2, it meant that it was a night you needed to dress warmly for as the walk to the tent was especially chilly for those in dresses and heels. However those were simply drawbacks of the venue that the committee could not have changed. Particularly after 11pm, when the tent was filled with people, entering the tent from the outside made the inside of the tent feel warm, and the cloakroom was efficiently run.
Unlike last year, the main door was in one of the smaller tents, which contained the games booths so that the largest tent (dance floor, stage, bar, cotton candy and photo booth) had a chance to warm up. This was great because it meant that people were dancing from early on in the evening. With the bar being close to the dance floor it did mean some drinks were spilled on people, but there was enough space to accommodate everything in the big tent without it seeming too full. The smaller tents provided a quieter atmosphere to eat, chat and play games.
The start of the ball was moved back an hour on the Facebook event due to a slight glitch at the start, which meant the bar could not serve alcohol. However, since attendance only picked up after this had been resolved, it allowed those who came early to take advantage of the booths without having to stand in a queue for a long time. This was particularly advantageous for the face-painting booth, which proved incredibly popular. You had to buy tokens for each booth, which, at £5 for 10 tokens, meant that quite a lot of money was donated to charity within the event. It would have been nice if one purchase of ten tokens would have allowed me to try all the booths, but with face-painting and fortune-telling both being worth 4 tokens, I had two tokens left for photos at the photo booth (1 token per photo).
I don’t mind donating money for charity, but what bothered me about the tokens was that the booths all cost more than one token. I would probably have been happier to pay more for my tokens (£1 per token rather than 50p) but each booth could have been playable for 1 or 2 tokens, rather than 3 or 4. Additionally, the Dervish food stand and the bar(s) took money rather than tokens, which meant that you had to decide what to spend your cash on in advance.
The event as a whole was probably dominated by the music. With a line-up of three musical acts (NELFUN, Black Sheep and SAUNIT) announced on Facebook, there was a great variety of music played. Most attendees probably missed NELFUN who started off the night, but I personally am a fan of Black Sheep, who played crowd-pleasing music that was good to both sing along and dance to. The volume of the music was such that it was not possible to hold a conversation in the big tent, and the music was audible from everywhere, so you could join in on your favourite songs from anywhere.
Despite the slight annoyance about tokens, and probably because of the excellent music, I definitely enjoyed my night. The atmosphere in the circus tent was great, and the prices at the bar were totally acceptable. There was sweet and savoury food available and the music was my personal highlight. Oh and the cupcakes, which were made by “a friend of a committee member” who should always make cupcakes. For everything.