Carnival Ball 2014: Reviewed

Last night’s Carnival Ball organised by the Dance Society and the fearless ball convenors Rebecca Ameson and Sanna Sartori, was a veritable success. Themed after the famous Carnevale di Venezia, the much-anticpiated ball promised a night of Venetian masks, free ice cream, and of course, endless dancing. (Preview here!)

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The night started with me running in high heels and my dress for the ball directly from a rehearsal in the Barron to Younger Hall in order to catch the dance performances at 9pm. Guests were treated to dances by various Dance Society groups: the Blue Angels, as well as their Apprentices, EIDSoc’s (Ethnic and Interpretive Dance Society) Desert Roses, and even BALLADS (Ballroom and Latin Dance Society). A personal favourite was the performance by the Blue Angels, who danced the Can-Can with amazing energy and spirit.

After the performances, Big Band of the University of St Andrews resumed their set, and I took the opportunity to walk around the rest of the venue, having run straight into the main hall upon arrival. The foyer was a hub of activity; on one side of the hall was the bar, offering a variety of mixed drinks, cocktails, lager, and even free punch! Always slightly skeptical of punch I didn’t make myself, I gave it a pass; however, I was assured by my companions that it was absolutely, lip-smackingly delicious. On the other side of the foyer was a St Andrews ball tradition: free Janetta’s ice cream! A refreshing passion fruit sorbet accompanied the standard flavours of vanilla and chocolate, and was a nice surprise for those looking for something a little different.

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My one fault with the layout was that it tended to get a bit overcrowded and quite congested, particularly as large queues formed for the coat check, bar, and ice cream. The queues were often intertwining and causing general confusion, not to mention the adventure getting to the ladies’ restroom. However, I understand the limited space with which the ball committee had to work and appreciate their desire to maximize dancing space within the main hall. My only recommendation on the layout would have been to perhaps move either the ice cream or bar to the main room, or even just rearrange layout to encourage queues to form in diverging directions. Indeed, this flaw in the night was a small nuisance, and only one of two quibbles I had with the event as a whole, the other issue being the name of the ball.

This concern is nitpicky and perhaps wholly unfounded, but I felt the confusion surrounding the ball’s theme  (is it a boardwalk carnival? Is it Venetian? Brazilian? Or, isn’t that Big Top Ball?) could have been avoided with a simple name change. The theme obviously became much clearer and established as publicity for the event was released and photos of committee members with masks flooded the pages of Facebook. However, even the simple use of the Italian name for the famous Carnival of Venice, Carnevale di Venezia, would have, in my opinion, made the theme obvious from the start. Again, this is very simply the whinings of one reviewer, and let’s be honest — on the night, the event’s name mattered little, if at all, and a great time was had by everyone in attendance.

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A ball thrown by the Dance Society obviously emphasizes the dance component of the evening, and so one would assume good music would be tantamount. With an opening set from the ever-popular Big Band followed by an even longer set by DJ Ashton Squires, the music was by far and away the highlight of the evening. The two acts differed enough to cover a wide range of musical taste and dance abilities, and the dance floor was sufficiently crowded for the entire evening, growing increasingly packed as the DJ’s set progressed.

On the whole, the night was a huge success, equal parts dance show and party, with food and drink and music choices without fault. A night of masked adventure and great tunes, Dance Society’s Carnival Ball was a great alternative to the ever-missed Masquerade Ball of years past. Congratulations are in order for the entire planning committee, but particularly its expert leaders Ameson and Sartori.

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