A casual observer in St Andrews on Saturday would have noticed a few strange happenings occurring in the otherwise rather sleepy coastal town. In the stately old quad, large white vans were hauling in case after case of red bull while billowing white tents were being skillfully assembled all around the Lower College green. On the far right corner of the lawn, a towering, dome-like structure rose up above a black stage with speakers dotted all around to ensure ear-shattering music could be heard from all angles. As the afternoon dragged on, the streets were soon flooded with gypsy skirts, fringy crop tops, and mirrored shades; men flaunted more bohemian tops than blazers and more trainers than Oxfords, a rare occurrence in a town as posh as St Andrews.
A quick enquiry would reveal that one event was responsible for all these oddities: Starfields. This annual party hosted by the St. Andrew’s Charity Fashion Show boasted six acts including Nick Grimshaw, Model Aeroplanes, Neon Jungle, Bade Records and DJ Saunit. Upon arrival, one simply flashed the galaxy-inspired Starfields wristband and was ushered into the event. White tents with boarded flooring housed packed bars with busy Union staff members attempting to keep up with all the drunken orders flying left and right. As the night went on, getting a drink proved difficult and even if you did make it to the bar, some uncoordinated drunk person would probably accidentally spill your drink before you could even consume it. Drink prices were a bit expensive, but not quite as steep as the year before. As dinnertime rolled around, vendors stationed at the ends of the bars provided delicious burgers for a decent price; other food options including Indian cuisine and sandwiches so there was more than enough to keep everyone happy. To help out those who were not yet totally in the festival mood, face painters were around to decorate people’s faces with glittery flowers and gorgeous rainbows; for those who weren’t quite so keen on fancy designs, the face paint was free and available for friends to paint each other, an amusing endeavor when all parties involved were quite drunk. To complete the outdoorsy, hippy look, free flowers wreaths and headbands were available to all who wanted to channel their inner flower child, myself included. Bags of assorted sweets were a final nice surprise for those not already hyped up on messy bombs or vodka-red bulls.
Between the bar and the stage spanned a field of grass was a bumpy terrain that proved difficult to walk on for those in heels and those who’d had one too many. Thus, for the first few numbers, the majority of people chilled out around the bars, reuniting with old friends or meeting new freshers. Once the natural light faded and night descended, the crazy, multi-colored lights from under the dome area created a club-like glow that attracted more and more people to the dance floor. Girls were mounted on shoulders, fists were thrown in the air, and even those in the shortest of shorts were dropping down low to the floor. The different musical acts helped to vary the song choices and give people with assorted music tastes each a chance to enjoy what was being played; before long, it seemed as if the Earth had spun backwards and it was summer once more, with nothing to worry about but spinning lights, good friends, infectious music, and dancing the night away. Best of all, when the music faded and the lights turned off, there were no buses to wait around for (a nightmare at Starfields last year). Though pushing through the crowd to find your friends and shuffling like packed animals out of the quad was less than fun, it still beat waiting in the cold for buses! All in all, Starfields was a fun event and a good concept, a flashback to summer festivals with plenty of lively music to keep everyone up and moving. However, the early start time makes it difficult to stick it out till the end, and many of those who arrived a bit later quickly realized they were far too sober to compete with those who had been partying it up since 3 or 4pm. It’s fair to say that a good haze of alcohol was necessary to truly enjoy the crowds, the music, and the general party atmosphere. Perhaps in the future Starfields could take place earlier in Fresher’s Week or in a later week of the year, when we’ve all got a little more energy! Still, Starfields is unique and different from most St Andrew’s events; well designed and artfully executed, it’s an experience that everyone should have at least once.
All photos courtesy of St Andrews Charity Fashion Show Facebook page.