Just St Andrews Problems: Ball Tickets

For some reason, there exists a website that tells you what exactly you can do in 3 minutes. The list includes things such as:

  • a plane going from stationary to 3,000 feet
  • winning an olympic gold medal
  • singing most national anthems
  • going through an automatic carwash
  • pitching a movie (apparently James Cameron pitched Titanic with only 6 words)

These are all well and good, but there is one major item missing from this list…

  • selling around 1800 tickets for a St Andrew’s ball

Yes, word is going round that the 2017 Mermaids Christmas Ball sold out in just 90 seconds. Whether this is completely accurate, I am unsure, but it’s safe to say it certainly did not take long for the ‘sold out’ notification to pop up on many people’s screens.

Needless to say, this caused some unnecessary stress on what was otherwise an ordinary Wednesday. One friend had an alarm every five minutes leading up to the release date, while on multiple group chats people were devising how best to get enough tickets: buy two each, or just hope that everyone managed to luck out.

Photo: Lightbox St Andrews

This franticness did not help the St Andrews Union website at all, and for many, it just seemed to crash. Eduroam was even worse than usual, and could not adjust to the sheer number of people attempting to splurge just under £40 for yet another ball.

This makes me wonder, why haven’t we figured out a better way to sell tickets yet? The Christmas Ball ticket sales had exactly the same level of stress last year, and many other balls suffer from the same problem. Some committees try to avoid this by holding ticket sales in person, as well as online, (although Mermaids ticket sales pre-2016 in this format were a steadily increasing nightmare – if you joined the queue after 4 am you were certainly out of luck) and others use apps such as Fixr to get tickets to people (which, I think, works so much better than the Union website), but it appears some have not quite caught on yet.

The crazy in-demand nature of St Andrews balls also inevitably ends in some people buying an extra ticket, just to sell it on at a ridiculous price. While I understand completely the want to do this (student debt can be a hard pill to swallow), it’s nevertheless really, really annoying. At least sell it on at face value.

But why are these balls so in demand? Seconds after the tickets were sold out, there were posts on the various “St Andrews Class Of” pages asking who had a spare to sell. People were offering children, organs and more for a chance of attending this annual event. So why all the fuss?

Photo: Lightbox St Andrews

Call me a St Andrews heretic, but to me, all balls are kind of much the same. Yes, they differ in theme, but in general they have the same formula: get dressed up, take copious amounts of photos, take shoes off (this one only really applies to those of us in heels), put shoes back on because the bouncer spotted you barefoot, dance, drink, then go home. Some minor details may be dissimilar depending on which ball you are attending but, on the most part, I’d say they are pretty similar.

I have racked my brain to think of why Christmas Ball was so in demand, but I can’t really pinpoint a particular reason. It’s not the first ball of the year, it’s not the only Christmas event in St Andrews, and it’s not offering anything much different to the other balls near to it. Of course, balls are great, and maybe the most St Andrean thing to ever happen, but I just don’t get the hype.

The speed at which the tickets go is unbelievable – it’s as if this is the only ball in the whole academic year, yet the truth is completely on the contrary. Don’t get me wrong, I am the biggest Christmas fan, and this ball is a great one, as far as they go. But I urge the coordinators of these sales to try to come up with a better way of going about getting tickets to people, to avoid the crashing website, the re-selling extortion, and the giving up of newborn infants.

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