In an “everyone knows everyone” town such as St. Andrews, famed for its awkward meetings in Tesco and Starbucks, the Masquerade Ball provided the opportunity, for one evening at least, to slip under the veil of anonymity. Held in the sweeping grounds of Lower College Lawn, the secret and clandestine nature of the Ball promised a night of fun for all.
Set against the background of the magnificent St. Salvator’s Quad and Chapel in its wintery darkness, the guests were welcomed by a spectacular performance by the university’s own ukulele band, “Ukleur Fusion”. By the entrance an authentic German Bratwurst stall was on offer if you needed a between-dances snack, and for those with a sweet tooth, candyfloss and ice cream was on offer inside the marquee. Stepping inside the marquee, the atmosphere resembled a cross between a casino and a dancefloor (complete, of course, with a drinks bar), with the muted lighting of dusky pink and blue adding to the anonymous and slightly dreamlike atmosphere, and alcohol flowed freely throughout the entire evening, as did conversation and excitement.
Of course, a ball wouldn’t be a ball without its music, and the featured bands played a range of numbers that permitted any form of dancing: from slow dancing to nightclub-esque styles. The on stage talent included Blues Society and Pink Eye on Picture Day, as well as the DJ Joe Grimeh.
The poker tables were a source of attraction for gambles and non-gamblers alike. As a poker debutante, the rules of the game went over my head mere moments after having them explained to me. Needless to say I didn’t win anything, but the casino atmosphere was enthralling by itself and watching others participate in the game was entrancing.
As the evening progressed and the marquee filled up, the focal point of Masquerade Ball, as opposed to other St. Andrews’ balls, really became apparent. Whereas usually the costume variety doesn’t usually extend past the varying length of girls’ dresses or the colour of the boys’ bow-ties, the delightful and odd mix of masquerade masks and accompanying attire really set this ball apart from the rest. The facial accessories were in every shade of the rainbow, some full-face and some just covering the eyes and nose, of varying shapes and some hand held. Whether they were bedecked with sequins or lace, the masks added a sense of uniqueness and novelty to what might have previously been just another ball outfit.
There were those who saw the inclusion of masks as the epitome of elegance (a nod to those which were popular particularly in Medieval Italy à la Romeo and Juliet) and a chance to match mask and dress, and those who took the opportunity to play partially unidentified pranks on their friends and potentially talk to their crush under the guise of anonymity. Equally possible was the simple excuse of a fun-filled night with friends, alcohol and dancing (in that order). Whatever your reason for attending the Masquerade Ball, the one thing that can be agreed is that the night, which was smoothly and fantastically executed by the committee, undoubtedly made it a night to remember for the university.
Photos sourced from St Andrews Masquerade Ball