Sunday saw the latest edition of the Kate Kennedy Charity May Ball, traditionally the year’s largest and most esteemed event — this year’s instalment was no different. At the end of April, the KK oversee the Gaudie, a torchlit procession down the pier in honour of John Honey, a student who in 1800 rescued victims from a nearby shipwreck. For many, this is the last event of this year: a fitting final act for not only the Candlemas semester but for the academic year (ignoring the daunting prospect of graduation for the elderly among us). The KK May Ball provided the joie de vivre before the uncertainty of these exams and, with Kinkell Byre as the backdrop, achieved exactly the kind of night we were all in need of. The KK is proud that: “The May Ball has donated tens of thousands of pounds to local and Scottish charities throughout its long history and continues to raise awareness of important causes both in Fife and across the country”.
Though the event page was inundated with ticket exchange on the day of the event, with many obviously having better plans on Cinco de Mayo, the Byre bustled with students & alumni, staying true to its role as the largest student-run ball in Scotland. Three levels of tickets might have appeared to be inclusive, but with standard fares on FIXR priced at £50, many waited until the days before the event to pick up tickets at discounted rates. The question of ticket prices is one that plagues almost all of the major events in St Andrews, but it will take a wholesale change from every large event to change their tune to the cheaper, more inclusive prices that made Ubuntu and dRAG Walk such hits this year.
The exclusive VVIP dinner ballot saw several courses in a transparent marquee with grand views of the East Fife coast before VIP and standard guests arrived. By all accounts, the experience for VVIP and VIP guests was better than, for instance, last semester’s Welly Ball: with a performance from The Other Guys and private bars, restrooms, and stages. For all attendees, three rides outside provided entertainment on the chilly May evening: the ever-popular La Bamba returned, flanked with a spinning ride and dodgems. However, guests who had queued up outside for a go on the rides were left disappointed when they were shut at around midnight, with the ball still having hours left to run. Among the usual issues with the toilets that occur at Kinkell Byre, this event also suffered from one-way systems for entering and exiting the building that left attendees perplexed as to how to get in and out of the venue.
The food trucks outside catered to a range of tastes, and with guests being at Kinkell for upwards of 4 hours or even more, a diverse cadre of food options proved useful; everything from Bespoke sweet and salted popcorn to Wildfire pizzas cooked in their wood-fired oven and Hector & Harriet’s Coffee and Crepe truck. The headliner for the event, Lost Frequencies, is a Belgian DJ with hit singles like ‘Are You With Me?’ (2014) and was supported by VISEN, a student DJ from St Andrews. However, as with May Ball events of previous years, many were disappointed with the music: many thought it proved repetitive with two DJs playing similar sets, though many of the crowd still danced along happily at the main stage.
This year’s May Ball had its problems, with bathroom logistics and queue confusion, but still succeeded in providing a glorious end to the year’s large events. While many can see where it can be improved in future, that did not stop this year’s instalment from proving a delightful evening for all attendees.
Photos courtesy of Harry Gunning and Sammi Ciardi for Ampersand Media.