Nobel Ball: Invitation to Crawl

Laurent de Cardeville braves Nobel Ball for a fourth and final time.

Just as the wee toon had recovered from the stains, headaches, and polemics of Crayfish Dinner, Nobel Ball came as a sharp slap, a surprise detonation. Indeed, it is in homage to Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Though quite frankly, most of attendees probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference were it held in honour of loo paper, nor would it affect their attendance. However, by the end of the night, they knew who that chap was, and certainly cursed his name in the morning as the weight of the world weighed on their heads.

Guests come for the ball’s well-established credentials in delivering an absolute blast in an intimate, dare I say rather exclusive setting, with less than 150 places set against exceedingly higher demand. Held in the upmarket Hotel du Vin, one mustn’t be fooled by the venue – sophistication was nothing more than a passing façade, which rapidly crumbled within the first hour.

laurence at nobel ball
Photo: Lightbox Creative

The Scandinavian Society’s battle tactics were well set out: On entering, guests were offered the obligatory glass of bubbly – but cunningly, also offered the choice of beer. Having cracked out the alcohol calculator and done the necessary arithmetic, as any sensible thirsty student would, I lurched for the bottle of Heineken, as all true booze-capitalists operating under assumptions of alcohol-content maximisation would understand.

As we were shepherded to our seats, the Viking-in-Chief (President) set the tone, emphatically conveying the ‘house rules’ – no standing on chairs, or else the kind bouncers would rapidly give us the boot. This is not the kind of thing that needs saying at one’s average Lumsden cupcake and muffin bake sale!

Ever innovative, this year “Nobel” prizes were awarded to members of the guesthood – notable mentions included the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, bestowed in full colours to our good Polish-Indian friend, “for his experience with experimenting with chemical substances.” This he hazily accepted with a lopsided grin – clearly mid-way through the process of another “experiment”: true dedication. Another one was for Medicine, awarded to a rather self-pleased second year, “for his exceptional understanding of the female anatomy” amidst girly giggles resonating around the room.

jager shots at nobel ball
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No one seems to remember the other rewards – having consulted committee members the following day to confirm certain details, none of them could remember either, despite having come up with, and awarded those themselves.

There followed the traditional “Ode to Boys,” delivered by the ravishing Marcela, Victoria, and Cameron. Less an ode and more of a cheeky cajoling, it singled out many notable Scandos and non-Scandos in lewd yet endearing terms, from their uselessness and drunkenness, to incompetence under the sheets. As usual, the “Ode to Girls” followed as a riposte by Didrik and Jacob, in a similar vein.

Dinner itself was a sumptuous three-course meal – awful shame I can’t remember what went into my mouth past the butter and buns at the very beginning, nor do most others consulted, though everyone remembers the bottle they were each nursing. As per, the pudding was left largely ignored as the alcohol flowed loosely, and shots of this or that, bought by him or her, arrived in large trays and burned their way down throats before guests leaped out of chairs and energetically stumbled about.

me at nobel ball
Photo: Lightbox Creative

Everyone congregated in the room’s centre, where tables had been cleared to make a dancefloor. DJ Asquire cracked on some of his classics, accompanied by a saxophonist, much to general delight, and resulting in a dancing, buzzing mass of wobbling bowties and dresses. As usual, it was an event which left very few memories, but those it did leave were bloody good ones. It was as ever an annual event of unrivalled rowdiness, and an amusing contrast to the usual ambience of pretension and sophistication sought by the Hotel du Vin.

For once, the latter, truly did live up to its own name, though in rather different terms than intended by management, as the ‘vin’ was everywhere – floor, walls, and certainly by the bottle in everyone’s stomach, for those who could indeed stomach it.

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