The vibrant and inclusive LGBT+ community is one of the most diverse and creative elements which imbues St. Andrews with it’s trademark spirit. Perhaps at no other event is this more visible and appreciated than the beloved annual Glitterball. Coming off a disappointing cancellation last year due to inclement weather, this years event was anticipated more than many other events on the calendar.
Triumphantly returning to the oft-underused Spanish Gardens venue which had proven untenable last year, Glitterball was an inclusive, meticulously planned and enjoyable event, the likes of which will be remembered in a class of its own. With tickets priced at £35 pounds, the event did not sell out, however all those that were in attendance were in such high spirits that the half-filled venue felt much more full than it actually was.
The party began at 6, with one of St. Andrews’ newest restaurants, The Räv playing scene to a lively pre-party with danceable music and 20% of everything for Glitterball guests. This discount carried on to the next day, extending also to St. Andrews favourites Combinico and the St. Andrews Brewing Company (at least to those who had held onto their wristbands).
One of the highlights of the night was the music, aside from the live music acts – highlights of which being Two Old Geese and MrsBaxter2U – the party playlist was exceptional from that of other typical St. Andrews balls. With much more dancing and sing-along-able music played, among a broad range of genres, guests were able to scream out their favourite songs, much of which were themed to Pride or designated as “Gay Anthems”, throughout the revelry.
Were one to have attended Glitterball without previously being aware of the theme or the organisers, there was little ambiguity to be found upon arrival. With rainbow carpet and lights making up the decorations throughout the venue, it was a welcome change from many other balls which lean heavily on traditional uses of fairy-lights and canopies.
This was further extenuated by the, expected, wealth of glitter to be found, literally, everywhere one was to have looked. In addition to the (biodegradable) packet of glitter which was distributed upon ticket collection, many guests had taken it upon themselves to downright douse themselves in glitter, so much so that many remarked in the following days that it was reminiscent of the aftermath of visiting a beach, finding glitter everywhere – in their beds, hair and socks etc. – just as one would with sand.
A great departure from many other balls, where standard attire are pure black tie, with maybe a flashy outfit consisting of a jacket or ball-gown departed from the typical colour-scheme, nearly all the guests expressed themselves in purely unique raiments one would be hard-pressed to find at nearly any other kind of event. With cross-dressing, drag queens and specially ordered ASOS glitter outfits galore, Glitterball was a unique environment in which everyone was able to express themselves exactly as they liked. The wealth of diversity in outfits and make up style was an attraction all in itself, with drag-queens/kings marvelling at each other as they passed. There were no judgements, least of all when it came to fashion choices, the whole night was a safe space for all. It was, in a word, fierce.
One of the original club kids of the 1990s, Vivacious, was the headliner for the night. Vivacious, best known from season six of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, delivered a passionate performance, albeit with some technical difficulties. The set included both musical elements and enthusiastic speeches to the audience on self acceptance and social activism. Vivacious’ unpredictable and heartfelt performance was without a doubt the highlight of the night. To most in the audience, her entrance was the first time they had ever laid eyes on her, however some others had been lucky enough to meet with her at a meet and greet held before the ball – entry to this having been determined via a random Facebook drawing. Followed by similarly stellar acts such as Amy Crackhouse (dRag walk royalty) and DJ Won’t, these nicely timed acts were rightly the centrepiece of the night.
Other performers, particularly those surrounding Vivacious, fell a bit flat. The Blue Angels and Saints of Seoul performances, while noble, were, to many, indistinguishable and thus the general consensus was that thirty straight minutes of dance was too much. Additionally, songs during both sets (which many thought was one) were skipped too quickly, giving the whole affair quite a jerky feeling.
Furthermore, while there was access to the classic Screaming Peacock outside the venue, many felt that the tickets (£35) were priced a bit high with some wondering what exactly they got for that. Lacking the champagne reception and free food of other balls, this perhaps was made up for in the discounts provided for the next day. This was, no doubt, due to the financial blows related to last years cancellation, so Saints LGBT can’t really be faulted for that.
In conclusion, there’s a reason people get so excited for Glitterball. As far as inclusive, wild and welcoming events in St Andrews, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than this. Gliterball remains a classic, well-loved event within our community, and I for one can’t wait to see what it’s seventh iteration will bring.