Don’t Walk 2018: A Thriving Culture of Elitism?

Sara Fay reviews Don’t Walk, with some misgivings.

There is a culture of elitism and exclusivity surrounding Don’t Walk and this writer is here to confirm that everything you would suspect about the event is true. It’s a party that would make Jay Gatsby proud while making every Nick Carroway, like myself, feel apart and not apart of it all at once.

Getting off the buses at the giant tent, a deceptively large one on the outside, students, dressed to the nines in high fashion, and are promptly greeted with baton throwers, one on each side of the walkway in. Within the marquee, topless women spray-painted silver navigate through the crowd. Already the scene is being set and the message is clear: There is nothing real about what you are about to go through.

After checking your coat you enter into the runway area, a giant Y with the VIP section above the rest in between the branches. Small, flimsy and easy to knock over, tables are placed several feet from the side of the state. Each one contains a holder for champagne and a box of delicious flapjacks. We were treated to two free bottles of champagne, which are sipped on gently as we look around and take as many pictures as physically possible. There’s no telling when any of us would be back.

It quickly became obvious as the start of the show approached that the hype around the invite only exclusivity was well founded. It also become apparent why this choice had been made. High ticket prices and stingy invite policy meant that when everyone gathered around the runway, each group of people was no more than two deep. You were right there, in the thick of it, and you could practically feel the buzzing of pride about it in the students surrounding you.

People came and went, flitting about among their various groups of friends, making sure that they were seen with the right people at the right time, like a bee from flower to flower. Champagne bottles were clutched, attractive girls leaning on attractive guys, diamond bracelets caught the light from the stage and practically glowed, as did those wearing them. It soon became clear that while we may have all been there to see a fashion show, the fashion show was much more centred around what that student in your Arabic tutorial was wearing than what the models were wearing, especially since the brands on stage were, for the most part, unrecognisable.

The lights dimmed, excited screams and cheers filled the room as they came back on to reveal the guy who’s always late to your Modern lecture, transformed by a designer brand and make up, strutting down the runway to his classmates’ screams, raised champagne glasses, and applause.

Alcohol was spilled on the stage in more than one place, and students giggled to themselves and tried to wipe it off (but not on their beautiful dresses, jumpsuits, trendy shirts, or dinner jackets). Guest fashion was all over the spectrum from sweatpants chic to black tie. There was no dress code in terms of levels of fancy, it was wear what you saw fit, so long as someone on a runway had worn it at some point, a feat that almost everyone seemed to have managed with no help.

The more the night progressed, the less the models wore, the rowdier and bolder the crowd got. Models who had for so long managed to keep their facial expressions controlled and serious were forced to break into smiles as their friends offered them drinks on their runway walks, sometimes accompanied with a slap to the butt when a model stopped to pose in one of the lingerie lines featured.

Alcohol seemed to flow freely, lines to the bar always short, the show being focused on with more and less intensity all at once. Screams erupted when a friend or a favourite model came on, but otherwise entertainment was replaced with the lips of the cute guy next to you. The DJ made sure to supply more and more danceable tunes as the night progressed, as if preparing the attendees for the upcoming afterparty. The models found themselves showing off their moves at the end of the runway much like the people watching them seemed to be doing on either side of the stage.

As the Nick Carroway, someone interested in fashion and overall uninterested in alcohol, this reviewer has difficulty fully explaining the event. The loss of inhibition of students dressed so you forget they had come from the library, perfect make up and hair, was one that can only be described as very St Andrews. The fashion was impressive, though occasionally not to my taste, but what really made the show so impressive was how they managed to make the attendees forget completely that they knew each other from a tutorial and not from their separate, elite, glamorous and showy socialite careers.

Overall, if an invite can be procured the party is not to be missed. Whether you count yourself as Daisy and will be there for the sake of saying you’ve been or to go to a good party, or whether you’ll be there as a Nick Carroway, taking it all in and wondering how this will all fit in to your upcoming novel and the glitz about the glam associated with opulence, it’s an experience for your repertoire and a story for your cocktail party anecdote list.

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