“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Top hats and Cheshire Cat grins at the ready, the Mermaids Christmas Ball is back. The ‘Welcome to Wonderland’ theme for this year, launched in the Beacon Bar on the 3rd November, has allowed Mermaids to move in an artistically-different direction from last year. The Fairytale of New York of 2017, with playbills and NYC street corner signs, gives way to the strange and outlandish decor of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. From Buddy the Elf and Santa in the grotto, guests can expect a decisively different theme for this year’s event, taking place tomorrow, the 2nd of December, in Kinkell Byre.
The launch party, with hand-decorated cards adorning the windows of Beacon, invited guests in with red and white wine, golden teacups, and stunningly-made renditions of Alice and the Red Queen. The committee did a marvellous job of transforming the small space of the top floor of the Union – now it remains to be seen what can be done with Kinkell. The Mermaids Christmas Ball is one of the events at Kinkell that has a shoestring budget for decoration, but in previous years they have mastered the transformation of an unadorned barn into New York and Halloweentown (from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”). With £5 cocktails on offer at the launch, among them the Cheery Chesire, Madhatter’s Brew, and the Red Queen, the adaption of Caroll’s work by the committee even just at the launch party suggests big things for the ball this weekend.
In this 101st year of Mermaids: The University of St Andrews Performing Arts Fund, the sell-out ball experienced many of the same problems in the build-up: a union website unable to deal with the traffic of eager attendees, tickets selling for nearly triple their face value, and numerous ‘ticket in basket but unable to pay’ errors. However, these all pale to the effort and heart put in by the committee for the ball, and the unmistakeable attention to detail and dedication to the task of providing one of St Andrews’s most famous, must-attend events.
Edward Prendergast, Christmas Ball Convener, told Owl Eyes:
“The launch event was a huge success; it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves and it really set the tone for the coming weeks leading up to the ball. As for the ball, it promises to be the most impressive yet. I believe ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is the perfect choice for a theme as there is so much scope for eye catching and alluring decor. It will certainly be something that has never been seen before at Christmas Ball and I can’t wait for people to experience it!”
Tomorrow will be the measure of their efforts, and the hundreds of guests will be the judge.
All photos from last year’s ball courtesy of Chloe Sidey for Lightbox St Andrews.