Balls and Galas at St Andrews have always meant one thing for me – namely trying to convey glamour and sophistication instead of my usual slightly-bloated corpse physique and abrasive Jar Jar Binks- esque personality. Up until now I’ve done a pretty good job at it, buying nice dresses (usually off eBay), attempting to match my eyeliner wings (instead of letting one fly high and the other flap around my cheek), and even wearing high heels, despite hobbling around waving my arms as I try not to trip over cobbles or land face first on the PH.
This is great in some ways: I love dressing up and feeling fancy. But for me it’s just not comfortable, and leads to awkward situations. At a ball in first year I decided to wear fake eyelashes for the first time, but the minute I put glue near my lashes my eyelids started freaking out and twitching manically. I succeeded in blinking glue into my eye. Cue a lot of screaming, water splashing, and cursing at various deities, resulting in my rocking a single bloodshot eye that clashed badly with my outfit.
Another time in second year I chose some red heels that were so painful and impractical, I was sure I had nerve damage after the ten steps from the taxi to the marquee. I ended up taking them off the minute I reached the tent, but got reprimanded by a bouncer multiple times. As I continued to hide my shoes in various places I resorted to attempting to conceal my bare feet while dancing and walking by moving my legs as quickly as possible, my reasoning being if my feet were a constant blur they wouldn’t be able to see my footwear situation. Of course the sight of a girl flailing her legs erratically drew even more attention, and the fight of the century featuring Emily vs security ended in me being told I’d have to leave if I didn’t strap my feet into those red patent prisons.
So yeah, the air of luxury often becomes a bit polluted by my total inability to act like a normal human, who keeps glue out of her eyes and shoes on her feet. Being the old and wise person I am now, I decided to forget about trying to present an image of myself that just isn’t me, and to simply go to an event and have fun. This year’s House of Horror Charity Gala was my chosen venue; instead of agonising about shoes, hair and makeup, I decided to dress up like a skeleton.
Getting ready, I realised how unstressed I was. My fancy-dress costume was roomy and comfortable, and my white and black face paint meant those dreaded eyeliner wings were totally absent. Without the constant worry of visible panty lines, streaky lipstick or sore feet, I decided to go one step further and do something I’d only ever seen on discount store t-shirts and posters with kittens on it. I decided to dance like no one was watching.
Stomping my spooky self onto the dance floor, I immediately started throwing shapes that were more spasm than sleek sashay, challenging my friends to ugly dance offs and gyrating with all the grace and care of a drunk great aunty at a wedding. I made sure I wasn’t in anyone’s way and didn’t whack anybody in the face with my multiple flailing limbs, but apart from that I really just went for it. At one point I thought to look around and check in case there was a circle of horrified onlookers. But apart from there being a larger than normal space between my group and others, nothing terrible happened. I wasn’t removed from the event for crimes against decency, and I found myself grinning the whole time.
Being more Primark than Prada doesn’t have to be a bad thing, even at big events like balls and galas. And this week’s self-set challenge was one of my favourites. I wore my skeleton costume with pride, danced until I nearly dropped, and never stopped to worry about what anyone else was thinking – and it was pretty great.