We suffer from an abundance of black tie dinners and balls. This past week’s Balgove Braai, therefore, was a welcome change from the usual pomp of a St Andrews event. Guests were encouraged to don their jeans and T-shirts for an evening of non-pretentious fun, a laid-back spirit that the Springboks are known for.
The decision to make this year’s Braai casual, in comparison to last year’s black tie dress code, added to the event’s unique atmosphere. Lacking a seating plan, guests crowded around several long tables, their plates packed with salsa and corn and potatoes.
The food was a marked improvement upon last year’s relatively light fare. Instead of rice, we were given the option of a vegetarian hamburger or a Boerewors roll (the South African equivalent of a hotdog), stomach-filling meals that prepared us for the trays of signature Springboks shots to come.
The shots themselves were a taste of South Africa: half peppermint liqueur and half Amarula (the South Africa equivalent of Baileys), the surprisingly refreshing drinks required no salt or lime to disguise their taste. The cheap price and low alcohol content of the shots made them a popular choice on the night, to the extent that one guest claimed to have drunk over twenty of them.
Lacking an official afterparty, the event encouraged guests to make their own fun after the meal. Thanks to the excellent musical stylings of DJs Joe Grimeh and Teresa St Goar, a makeshift dancefloor formed around the crackling fire. St Goar in particular must be commended: A new face on the music scene, she held her own alongside Grimeh and presided over some of the night’s best mixes. Personally, I was delighted to see a female name on the night’s lineup, and I hope to see St Goar behind the decks more often.
The vibe of the Braai was a welcome departure from the decadence that often infects larger local affairs. The price tag and out-of-town location, however, are deterrents for many would-be guests: £23 for a shot, a beer and a single plate of food is pricey, especially considering that guests must pay for their own transportation to and from the Balgove Steak Barn.
That said, I very much enjoyed my night. Should the next Braai be a few pounds less, I would expect many more people in attendance.