A ball is no longer a selling point in St Andrews. Many events have taken notice and started to transform themselves into something that the student body hasn’t experienced before. This year the Charities Campaign decided to transform their Masquerade Ball to Masque-Rave, a Rio-inspired rave that consisted of a dinner at Balgrove Larder and a night in Club 601.
Despite the innovative idea, the night seemed to fall flat due to the disjointed timings of the two parts of this event. Students were encouraged to come and go from the dinner portion of the evening, which began at 6; however, Club 601 did not open until 10 and very few people actually arrived at Club 601 until way after 11:30.
Balgove Larder seemed rather subdued as I walked in an hour and a half after the stated starting time. The first act of the night was slated to be Ukelear Fusion; however, myself and many other students missed their performance as it must have occurred at the beginning of the event when very few students had arrived. Personally, I think this demonstrated poor planning – unless a meal is set and served at a specific time, rather than with meal tickets that I had to queue with, it is a rare occurrence that attendees will show up at the start of an event.
This is especially true for balls, which, despite the rebranding, many students seemed to treat this event as (based on the dresses and heels that peeked out from under the heavy coats, kept on throughout dinner due to the temperature of the barn). The weather is freezing this time of year, I spent most of my meal trying to pull my jacket closer around me and the coat check provided was almost entirely ignored. While I acknowledge those that planned this event cannot control the weather, it is something they should have considered for planning an event in Scotland in a barn during November.
As more students arrived and the music turned up, many attendees stepped past the Brazilian flag welcoming them and through the doorway of Balgove Larder had a look of confusion on their face – the appearance of Balgove did not suggest the Rio Rave that was promised. The décor in the barn specific to the event did not extend beyond a couple of large cardboard masks in shadows on walls and minimal centrepieces on the table that I almost did not notice. The barn was not really transformed, which left me hopeful but doubtful for what waited for me in Club 601. The most Latin part of the atmosphere was DJ Jerome’s music, which fit the theme; however, there was no dance floor and minimal room between tables to comfortably dance.
The food and the minimal amount of queueing were the highlights of the dinner. The meal consisted of a Brazilian Linguica Spiral Sausage on a Brioche Roll, or a Portobello mushroom option for vegetarians; Molho à Campanha, a Brazilian tomato salsa; corn on the cob and chips. The portions of food available were surprisingly large considering the price of the ticket, and the meal was absolutely delicious. Additionally, there was not a constant queue for drinks like most other events in St Andrews. While the queue for food and drinks was long at certain points in the night, it shortened quickly; I was able to time it so I did not queue at any point during the dinner.
At 9.30, the dinner ended and taxis were available to take attendees to the Union to await the opening of Club 601. However, it seemed that many guests went to different venues or just back to their flats at this point in the night. I took a quick detour to my flat, and when I arrived at the Union at 10:30, the entire building was fairly empty. While other events were on that night, including Rugby’s infamous Secret Pyjama Party, it was still surprising that so few people who attended the Masque-Rave dinner did not go to the Rave after.
Outside Club 601, there were masks and glittery temporary tattoos for sale in addition to a raffle that boasted prizes from the likes of the Fairmont and Eden Mill. Inside the club, a DJ played Latin beats as the dancing crowd grew. Until 11.oo, Eden Mill’s premixed cocktails were available initially just to dinner guests but due to the small size of the crowd, all attendees were soon welcome to try the three flavours available – Basil Smash, Berry Bramble, and Citrus Fizz. Brazilian inspired masks and images were projected on the screens in the venue, but it still wasn’t the promised glitter and feather explosion that was used to entice guests. Overall, the rave part of the night, while extremely enjoyable, seemed aesthetically no different than a Friday night Bop or any other Sinners.
Overall, the tiers of tickets available for the night seemed incoherent. At £20, dinner ticket was worth the price of the food, a half pint of sangria, entrance to Club 601, and Eden Mill cocktails. The lowest tier pricing – just the entrance to Club 601 – was worth it too as it was only £3 for a night of dancing, Latin beats, and free cocktails. However, the mid-tier ticket (£15 for wine at Balgrove Larder) made no sense. It was paying for the privilege of paying for transport to sit in a cold barn with a cup of sangria and a glass of wine at Club 601 (supposedly – many attendees struggled to find the source of this wine).
I fully support the efforts of the Charities Campaign in putting on the least expensive and most accessible events, they seem to lack the finesse and quality that so many St Andreans have grown to expect. I would be hesitant to attend one of their events again unless there are obvious improvements. It would be more successful if the dinner was properly separated from the actual Masque-Rave into a completely different event for the Charities Campaign.
In St Andrews, the night is always what you make of it. However, events need to enhance the night. While it was enjoyable, Masque-Rave disappointed with the expectations as it seemed to not be able to live up to the innovative idea set forward.