Learning from the recent controversy surrounding Natasha Franks, I have decided to remain anonymous. Not because I do not publicly agree with my opinion, but because I do not want anyone to feel them I am personally targeting them or their event that they care for. It is a general problem that we all contribute to and getting personal would be counterproductive.
Christmas Ball has sold out in a couple of minutes. Yes, a ball in St Andrews has sold out as quick as big name acts could only dream of. Some of you might still remember the magic-fuelled website crash and the all-night queuing from last year and sadly, so far it is not any different this year.
Those who managed to buy tickets are suddenly in power, while those who could not find themselves having to look for other means of getting a ticket. Indeed, this disturbance in the force is catalyst for scalpers. Scalpers, people who buy tickets only to sell them at higher price, are generally considered as a cancer by people who sincerely want to go to an event but don’t manage to get a ticket. For most people this is a barrier that holds them back from going, because they cannot afford the scalpers’ prices.
Not in St Andrews though, where people pay above London prices for flats, where basic balls easily sell out for £30+, where a new fashion show is always welcome, and where champagne soaking must be explicitly banned by the University. We very much stand up for our elitist stereotype, even if it is not exactly how people usually imagine us. Students are willing to attend balls that are essentially copies of one another, marketed under a different name.
How to organise a ball in St Andrews? Find a theme and a name, rent Kinkell Byre and do whatever the previous ball has done, ideally whilst correcting their mistakes. People will attend no matter what, because it is engrained into the St Andrews ball-culture. I believe the combination of the ball-culture and casual desperateness is what can turn anyone into a scalper. They do not risk anything: they can shamelessly create listings on the event page where desperate students will bid on their tickets and they can get away without a bad remark from pretty much anyone.
Can I blame them? Not necessarily; I am fairly sure most of these people are opportunistic scalpers and do not make a living out of it. But how to stop them? The Mermaids tried to limit the number of tickets that one person can buy, but that is only a relief for the symptom. Someone who does not want to go can still claim their ticket and sell it with a significant mark-up, so there is clearly no way around it.
Or maybe there is? Stop feeding the scalpers! Did you not manage to buy a ticket? Either accept it and go to another ball which will be 80% like the one you could not go to, or wait until the event is coming up close and buy from someone who changed their mind, etc. Put the word out in your friend group that you are looking for a ticket and chances are you will find someone eventually.
As a last resort, you could still turn to scalpers, but I highly recommend against it, because that means feeding them and the problem will live on.