Review: Robinson May Ball

Paul Norris 18 June 2018

Robinson’s ball is one of the cheapest available in May Week, but I still found it hard to imagine how one night could be worth a three figure sum. Last Friday I found out. Although slightly rough around the edges, Robinson was an incredible experience. The college architecture divides people, but is undeniably perfect for a May Ball with its gardens which expand over several levels and buildings which resemble battlements.

It was, in the best possible way, easy to get lost between the different areas and although it seemed like there was a huge amount to see I found out after the ball that there were large spaces (like the roof) which I didn’t see. Although this suggests that the ball was huge in scale, it also implies that not enough maps were handed out. A lot of the time I only managed to find places because I’d been to Robinson before. There also seemed to be logistical problems invisible to most ball-goers, as some workers complained of having to work longer shifts than promised.

Generally, however, the ball ran very smoothly. Queues often looked long (particularly the queue for entry) but moved quickly. The ball was frequently spectacular, from the fireworks early in the evening, to the light projection on the side of the buildings overlooking the garden. Less astonishing was the choice of music, which tended towards safe choices and had a limited range of genres. DJs’ mixing abilities were often lacking, particularly in the silent disco. There are rumours that the exorbitant price of the headliner, Mahalia, made the budget for other performers unusually tight. Mahalia was a definite crowd-pleaser, but struck me as an odd choice of central act given that her music is quite low-key and relaxed.

The energy in the main tent stayed high the whole night, however, especially for the closing act, an Abba tribute band (it was around then I made my exit). Food and drink was universally excellent and the static attractions attracted big crowds. Not much was done with the murder mystery theme, but that didn’t impede the enjoyment of an excellent evening.