On Saturday night, the annual Alfred Dunhill fireworks display heralded the end of a golf tournament and the beginning of a ball. While Niall Horan and Kelly Rohrbach celebrated in the Dunhill Pavilion, the student population moved towards Lower College Lawn, resplendent in marqueed finery, for the Kate Kennedy Opening Ball.
Having attended the ball for the past three years, this author was able to note the many improvements made upon the Lawn. Outside, the much-loved open air tent had been extended to accommodate demand for a more intimate dancefloor. Nestled beside the small stage, guests could hydrate themselves at a similarly intimate bar. Heaters then encouraged us to take our drinks outside, where glow in the dark furniture provided prime opportunities to rest one’s feet.
Operated by the Union, the bars impressed on all fronts. Queueing was scarce, both inside and outside of the main marquee, and several guests remarked on the low prices – in particular, a £5 double vodka Red Bull. The placement of complimentary food vendors further aided in the crowd’s dispersal. Having Jannettas in one corner, popcorn in another, and cotton candy in another allowed guests to utilise all available space in the marquee, ultimately converging in the centre to enjoy their treats. For any non-alcohol inclined guests, a carefully secured water cooler was available throughout the evening.
Outside, additional food was available for purchase. The omnipresent BlackHorn food truck remained, easily, the most popular choice of the night. Nearby, student startups Toro and La Crêperie made their debut Opening Ball appearances, providing savoury and sweet options to the well-dressed throng of revellers.
With food and drink handily taken care of, guests need only worry about securing their spots on the dancefloor. St Andrews alumni Ashton Squires and James Turner graced the main marquee stage with crowd favourite pop hits: From “No Scrubs” to “Shape of You,” their set was, at times, reminiscent of karaoke – and of Asquire’s unforgettable Throwback series from his time at The Vic.
Another similarly iconic DJ duo had a turn behind the decks: 8-BIT, the ball’s headlining act. Household names in Mexico, the masked pair did not disappoint with their signature blend of deep, tropical, and future house. The inner and outer marquees remained bustling until the final tune had played, and we were reluctantly shown the exit. Alfred Dunhill may have had fireworks and Jamie Dornan, but Opening Ball made champions out of every guest.
The seven month partition between now and May Ball will undoubtedly feel endless. At least in ball convener Isabela Campos de Almeida’s hands, it will be worth the wait.