Fifties fun at Churchill Spring Ball

2 March 2008

Simon Burdus

Churchill Spring ball has developed a reputation as being Cambridge’s cheap and cheerful alternative, with tickets priced this year at only £59. Not many colleges could get away with a 1950s America theme but Churchill did just that.

Guests were invited to jive the night away and whisked back to 1950s America. The design teams had clearly been hard at work for a number of weeks. Churchill works on a much smaller budget than a number of balls but the effort aesthetically was there for all to see. The college bar had been totally transformed into an American diner with burger bar seating and black and white check floors. The 1950s housewife’s kitchen serving cake was great, and along with a number of large scale paintings, transformed the college in the ball’s main area. Decoration became sparse as you moved away from this area which did mean a bit of atmosphere was lost, however.

The programme to the ball was refreshingly easy to navigate. I’ve been to many a ball where I’ve ended up in a bush or a flowerbed because the map was so unclear. A number of the acts were excellent. The headlining band ‘The Noisettes’ fresh from supporting the likes of ‘Bloc party’ and ‘Muse’ had the main hall rocking. Fitz swing offered their usual high quality music, comedian Rex Boyd although a bit mental, was still highly amusing and Ray Siberini, billed as ‘the best Elvis Impersonator’ actually lived up to this label. Although other acts were less well received – the smokers sketch comedy show looked like it had been thrown together at the last minute – overall Ents, for the money paid, were good.

Dodgems and fairground games were an added bonus. The Churchill Casino made its annual appearance, but if you’ve got it, why not use it? Other colleges would kill to have this facility at their disposal.

The food was very canteen-y but as the ball was supposed to be a diner it could be argued that this was the aim. Queues were long, and food also ran out long before the end of the night despite the attempted staggering of delivery. I also failed to find the milkshakes as promised by the pre-ball on the website. Drinks on the other hand were plentiful and I was able to get one right up until leaving. River Bar were present making cocktails and were an excellent addition.

I had a very pleasant evening at Churchill. Don’t go to Churchill expecting the grandeur of Trinity or St Johns, but it is definitely a great night out and worth a visit. If you compare it to Kings Affair, which is similarly priced, the difference is blatantly obvious. Churchill is far superior. It’s not a ball to go to with your girlfriend, its one to go to with a big group of friends. Treat Churchill as it is meant to be treated and you won’t be disappointed. The major drawback to the ball is its end time with everything ending sooner than you think. But for £59 to be fed, watered and entertained it’s only £20 more than a night at Cindies and although chillier, is well worth the added investment.