Review: Corpus May Ball

Image credit: Johannes Hjorth

Corpus May Ball was never going to be the standard-issue, tents in a garden set-up. A small but dense warren of pocket-sized courts interspersed by some of the most beautiful buildings in Cambridge, the college setting demanded ingenious solutions to allow the Ball to happen at all, and the committee met this challenge head on.

More of a giant Hogwarts-esque house party, nearly every public room in college was utilised to great effect, providing the sort of enchanting atmosphere the white plastic of a marquee would struggle to emulate. In the later hours, Corpus magnificent, ancient hall became the most bizarre, wonderful setting for a silent disco I will ever experience, the grand stained-glass windows in unlikely juxtaposition to The Killers or the Macarena. In the tiny walled Bursar’s Garden, a shisha and baklava bar provided a chilled out counterpoint to this, though in an equally romantic setting.

Most surprising perhaps was the use of the Master’s Lodge itself as a venue. There was something slightly strange about walking through his ornate dining room with three jelly shots in hand and a mouthful of mac’n’cheese. Of course, if this set-up would happen anywhere, it would be Corpus, whose master has established himself as the coolest in Cambridge, regularly DJing their bops, and him and his wife were seen taking selfies with students and enjoying the music until the close at 5am.

The music lineup itself, headlined by rapper Lethal Bizzle and indie band COASTS, was enjoyable and varied, nicely varying the tempo of the night between frenetic dancing and calmer moments. Other entertainments included a series of up-tempo ‘weddings’ in the bar led by the duo Big Gay Time Machine of ADC fame, an oxygen bar, personalised candy making and arcade machines. The most magical memory I have though, is of sitting on beach chairs watching the lightshow projected onto the chapel, star of many a prospectus, accompanied by music to achieve something of a transcendent experience, and skilfully expressing the Canvas theme.

Food and drink was excellent, varied and staggered throughout the night, ensuring no-one went hungry in the early hours, unlike at some other, more expensive balls this May Week. The event was not entirely without slip-ups however. The queue to enter took well over an hour, not helped by a process something akin to passport control when one reached the door, though queues inside were rare and very short. Some of the acts were also faced with technical difficulties, with the lead drag act Dinah Lux performing only one number, and the ballet performance cancelled outright. While the committee were gracious, promising to pay the dancers and allowing them to stay and enjoy the event, one disclosed to me it was slightly frustrating after hours of rehearsal. In the grand scheme of things though, these problems were minor, and impressively rare for a student-run event.

Overall though, Corpus ranks as one of the most seamless, unique events of May Week. A warm, exuberant atmosphere in the most romantic of settings elevated the event above the very high standard of many May Balls, and provided perhaps the most ‘Cambridge’ experience of my two years here, in the most eccentric, magical, positive sense of the word.

More of Johannes Hjorth's photography from the night can be found here.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories

In this section

Across the site

Best of the Rest