It’s that time of year again when I’m really quite thankful purple is one of my favorite colors. All around the town, dedicated volunteers sporting their dark purple t-shirts are putting on various performances, activities, and events to raise money for three amazing charities: Families First St Andrews, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Medecins Sans Frontiers. These Willy Wonka colored volunteers belong to the team running RAG week, an abbreviation for Raising and Giving Week, which officially started on Saturday night with their launch party in the Main Bar of the Union.
Walking through the main doors, the world took on a lilac hue as purple balloons lined the entrance and hung from the bannister of staircases, railings, and other vertical structures. Volunteers stood near the entrance with buckets, cheerfully asking for any donations to the charities; all profits made that night would have to come from the generosity of those in attendance as entry to the event was free. Despite arriving rather early on in the event, the Main Bar area was already crowded, the smaller venue space helping to feel that the place was really packed. The acoustics allowed a pleasant background hum of chatter to make you feel part of something the moment you walked in. More purple volunteers stood behind a small Janettas stand in the corner of the bar serving the special lilac gelato created for RAG week; if Week 2 starts to get you down at any point or you simply would like to try something new, 1 pound of every scoop of lilac gelato sold goes towards the designated charities. What’s better than gelato for a good cause? Other than the creamy treats available, the event also sported photo opportunities with Rory McLion, the lovable, huggable, all-around adorable mascot of the Charities Campaign. After snapping a few photos and giving Rory one last squeeze, my friends and I took advantage of the two convenient bars downstairs and the beautiful cocktails in the Beacon Bar to hydrate and relax a bit before NELFUN cranked up the music and got everyone up and on to the dance floor to shake off all the residual stress that’s already building after only one week of classes.
Due to the last stages of redevelopment, Venue 1 is unfortunately unavailable for events like the launch party that usually take advantage of its large space and stage. However, the events team did an amazing job with the smaller space that they had, strategically moving aside the pool tables and adding purple stage lights to create a decent size dance floor with a nice, chill club atmosphere. I personally think the smaller space actually worked better for the event than Venue 1 because the size of Venue 1 sometimes makes events seem more sparsely attended than they really are. With the limited dance floor, it felt as though the event was really full and the enthusiasm of everyone around you made it impossible not to start shaking and moving your hips to the beat. NELFUN, as always, had impeccable taste in music, weaving in a few good oldies between the best songs of right now. With their infectious smiles and obvious love of music, no one seemed to enjoy the night more than them and the crowd responded well to their excitement; it’s no wonder that fun is in their name because you can’t help but have it when they’re dj-ing.
Since the event only really started around 11pm, it was easy to stay until the early hours of the morning when sadly even charity events have to come to an end. The whole event was well-run with great music, some fun gimmicks to keep people entertained, and an overall constant but not annoying presence of purple to remind everyone that at the end of the day, this event and the coming week are about raising money for charity, albeit in spectacularly fun ways. If the launch party was any indication of the quality of RAG Week, then I think we all have some really amazing events to look forward to.
Photos courtesy of RAG Week 2015