Infamously one of the deadliest evenings in the Scandinavian Society’s events arsenal, Crayfish Dinner is in concept rather self-explanatory: a dinner dedicated to the consumption of orange-pink shellfish – the good old crayfish.
In practice, however, things become considerably more colourful. Despite a wild reputation and clear evidence of debauchery, the Byre has agreed to host the Scandinavian Society’s inaugural Crayfish Dinner again next year.
Formerly, Crayfish had always held at the Scores Hotel. This year we were in for a surprise – the dinner had migrated away from its former bastion, to the rather upscale Byre Theatre. Clearly the latter had no idea what Acquavit actually was, and did not suspect the wine-fuelled hurricane that was headed their way.
Starting at a rather early 19:00, an opening aperitif was served in the theatre’s foyer – a façade of calm lulling the uninitiated into a false sense of security. Having inspected the seating plan, and assigned our ‘drinking master’, we were shepherded into the theatre. Surrounded by complete darkness, the tables were pressed tightly into the middle of this empty theatre, and the spotlights bore down on this core.
The darkness gave a sense of complete isolation, trippingly surreal. And then it began. ‘Skol!’ the terrifying command rang. And we drank, draining our glasses.
Food, and indeed the crayfish, was very much an afterthought for most, a form of survival for others – though a good number of Scandinavians tucked in, cracking shells, sucking out the soft pale flesh of what has always reminded me of underwater cockroaches. Yet there were tons of edibles – stacks of cheeses, salads, cold meats, breads, dips; between gulps of wine, I desperately scrambled to smear enormous slabs of butter on small baguettes in a feeble attempt to survive the onslaught.
I had a particularly ‘tough’ time, ‘honoured’ by being placed on the President’s table, next to a charming blonde beauty, and the same Viking-in-Chief who had annihilated me last year.
Between the food-stuffing, and endless rounds of wine-decimation, raucous singing rattled the tables. Traditional chants and songs, dedicated mainly to shellfish and drink, were belted out in full boisterous vigour by the congregation.
At this rate of consumption, the tapping of feet could no long be contained, and very little time had elapsed before people were standing on their chairs, roaring out the lyrics, and dancing to the music.
Pudding was on no one’s mind at this point, particularly after a Fife live band arrived and began to play classics. We were all briefly booted out of the theatre and into the foyer while tables were removed, after which the crowds charged in and wobbled with great passion on the dance floor.
However, the end was nigh, as the bomb’s fuse had been lit. After the Byre’s staff discovered that various people, naked, had locked themselves into the toilets, while a healthy four other people had erupted over the theatre premises with their own stomach’s volcano, they panicked, bringing the evening to a very early close at half past ten.
This was a record time in any case, before the DJ could even set up shop on the dance floor. Most spirits too high to be dampened, the majority of those left standing flocked out to spark up some raging house party or other.
This year, Crayfish redefined itself, and escalated up a notch. A stunning, fresh venue seeing its first full unveiling to the St Andrews social scene, has seen its deflowering by taking on this firmly established and absolutely wild event. Evidently, the management was not prepared for quite this degree of escalation, given its premature end at half past ten.
But it can definitely be said, and repeated, that all attendees consumed their money’s worth in liquids, as the extraordinary parade of wobbles I witnessed testifies to. The irony is that, even after the bombshell fell, the Byre has agreed to host Crayfish again next year.
At least now they know precisely what to expect – that the Scandinavian Society knows how to throw a crackingly good party!