Review: St Catz' May Ball: The one with Sir Ian McKellen

Image credit: Anna Carruthers

Students of St Catharine’s College have been eagerly awaiting this year’s May Ball, the first since June 2010, and few were left wanting by the end. Whilst the theme of ‘Dionsyia’ did require a quick Google-ing (a large festival in ancient Athens in honour of the god Dionysus), it was immediately obvious upon arrival.

A Grecian procession of dancers, drums and flutists greeted revellers as they wound their way through the courts, the tempo of their movement and music increasing as greater numbers of people arrived and began to indulge. The theme continued through flowing blue silk streams, beautifully lit flower beds and all manner of mythical creatures roaming the night. A general sense of indulgence permeated most of the courts although it was broken in places by sheer silly enjoyment, most notably the ever-entertaining zorbing pool.

Whilst long queues didn’t appear to have been a significant issue, the entrance queue did require greater attention. The aforementioned Grecian procession travelled along the line as a form of entertainment but away from the other decorations they had notably less impact and proved to be only a passing diversion. Disappointingly, after queuing for 2 hours I was offered neither food nor drink and whilst such items were never actually promised, it seemed curious that St Catharine’s did not follow the example of most other colleges’ May Balls. However, it should be noted that impressively, most of the food and drink stalls within the event did not contain queues of more than a few minutes.

With regards to food and drink, guests were promised ‘the sweetest of delights and the most succulent of morsels upon which to gorge’ and this appeared to have been met. There was less wine on offer than I expected given the theme of the event but this was more than made up for by the wide variety of other options.

The traditional May Ball champagne lasted the whole night with many indulging in a glass alongside their breakfast at 4:30am. In one of the side courts, Jack’s Gelato served up alcoholic milkshakes that proved to be a hit and for those seeking non-alcoholic options there was much choice; a personal favourite being Fentimans’ pink lemonade. Food could be found in all areas and ranged from meatballs to whoopie pies to cinnamon popcorn, all of which were delicious.

St Catharine’s delivered in entertainment, with zorbing and the roller disco being two clear highlights. The health and safety of the latter could be questioned after at least two people were left in plaster casts from their blading-escapades, but there was adequate supervision in the room and after asking the people in question about their injuries, they appear to have few regrets. The casino and silent film room provided warmth, relief for the feet, and a relaxing atmosphere, all of which were sorely needed after some vigorous dancing to an exhilarating set by Truly Medley Deeply in the Main Tent.

A truly special moment of the evening, was the introduction of headliners Sigma by the wonderful Sir Ian McKellen, a St Catharine’s alumnae, who attended the ball well into the early hours. It certainly made the evening just that little bit more special. Plus, there was the automatic bragging points for anyone who managed to get a selfie with him.

Despite being one of the cheaper May Balls, St Catharine’s certainly proved to be the promised night of indulgence, pleasure and escape.

Food 8/10
Drink 8/10
Ents 7/10
Value for Money 8/10



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