Review: Hughes' Hall May Ball

“Is this it? I don’t understand” – passing Hughes Hall student

Not the greatest words to hear as you enter a May Ball and sadly, in many respects a summary of the night. Whilst not the worst night I’ve had in Cambridge, Hughes Hall May Ball was far from the greatest and fell short of the sort of the night promised by a £100 price tag. Running at the same time as England’s first world cup match was perhaps not the best call, as many attendees spent a large chunk of the evening watching that in one room, leaving the other dance-floors lacking in both people and atmosphere.

“Can I just take your name, the system isn’t working” – May Ball Committee Member

Queuing, it must be said, was not bad. The broken software was not conducive to a smooth system, but the dribs and drabs of arrivals meant the queue never built to an unbearable level. The pleasant weather and the music drifting down from the ball proper made the experience altogether bearable, and it must be said that the committee did well handling the intermittent functioning of their entry software.

“Let’s get food. I’m very excited” – Fellow Ball Attendee
“There’s none left. I’m less excited... Do you want bread?” – Same Attendee

The hot food queue was disheartening and, having given it a pass initially and instead gone dancing to the great tunes coming from Laurie Lewis, it was even more disheartening to find on return that the food had run out and all that was left were dry bread rolls.
On the other hand, the chocolate fountain and treats available elsewhere were top notch and did not require much queue time at all. On a drinks front the night certainly excelled. Hardly any waiting time accompanied by a smooth supply of themed cocktails was certainly one of the better features of the ball, though the availability of drink did throw into sharp focus the complete lack of food.

“He’s pretty, and he sings well” – Person at Bar
“Ahhh! Ferris Wheel! Too much excitement” – Me
“Silent Disco is just my favourite thing” – Fellow Ball Attendee

There is little to complain about on the entertainment front. With a good mix of bands, some playing to the Brazilian theme of the night, others providing a mellowing acoustic background into the small hours. If silent disco isn’t your thing then it would have been very disappointing that the only entertainment for the last 3 hours was silent disco, but the music there was on point and the atmosphere, as people moved in from the football, made that area the highlight of the night (even despite the chaotic system developed for borrowing the headsets).

Pick a card...

Non-musical entertainment was great. The Ferris wheel was a highlight that, due to lack of queues, I confess to having used several times. Equally great was Churchill Casino, a Cambridge favourite that never fails to please and provided a great way to relax indoors when the outside temperature was proving prohibitive.

“I didn’t pay full price. I can’t complain.” – Fellow Ball Attendee

This is a relatively good summary of the night. Whilst initially lacking in atmosphere, and being beset by lack of food and technical ticketing flaws, it’s hard not to enjoy a May Ball. If you take a good friend and mess around, dance like a fool and enjoy a little bit of down time after exams then the event itself almost doesn’t matter. Whilst Hughes Hall may have proven a disappointment to those who paid full price; it was certainly possible to get the value for money from a half-price ticket and the entertainment was sufficient to make a good evening possible.

Food 4/10
Drink 8/10
Entertainment 6/10

Value for money 6

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