Welly Ball 2022 – Reviewed
Did you think the title would have a welly-themed pun? Actu-welly not…
Events Section Editor Nicole Entin reviews this year’s Welly Ball, where two thousand guests put on their finest welly boots in support of The Charlie Waller Trust.
In the taxi taking five photographers, one DJ, and one writer (yours truly) through the impenetrable darkness from St Andrews to Falside Mill, I hazarded a question to the DJ sitting up front with the driver.
‘So, what sort of music are we anticipating tonight?’
A moment for the question to be relayed to the front.
My amicable response: ‘Uh, House, probably.’
A chorus of laughs from the taxi. ‘Hey, you should include that in your article.’
This sense of conviviality persisted throughout the whole evening of Welly Ball, one of the most anticipated events of the St Andrews social calendar in which guests don black tie and their finest rubber wellington boots in support of UK mental health charity The Charlie Waller Trust. Originally established in 2007 as a celebration of the clay pigeon shooting tournament The St Andrews Challenge, the ball now brings together students from fourteen different universities across the UK to party for a good cause. As the ball’s Head of Marketing, Emily Goggin, explained to me, ‘While the ball started in tandem with the St Andrews Challenge and still welcomes guests who participate in the shoot, Welly Ball is now a separately organised charity fundraiser that has been supporting the Charlie Waller Trust for nine years running.’ Having raised £30,000 in 2021 and being a popular event amid the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, Welly Ball 2022 had much to live up to.
This year, Welly Ball had a change of its usual location in Kinkell Byre to the environs of Falside Mill. The layout of the event was spacious and well-suited to the crowd of two thousand attendees. Walking through the entrance hall, guests arrived in the main hall that converted from dinner space to afterparty dance floor over the course of the evening, and could wander into the attached marquee decked out with strings of lights. Three bars and two DJ setups efficiently ensured that the large crowd was never overly concentrated in one particular area, with plenty of extras that included St Andrews’s favourite ball staple La Crêperie, food trucks, a bevy of photographers snapping shots of the crowd, and plenty of spaces for photo-ops guaranteed to grace the next day’s Instagram posts with obligatory welly-pun captions. It was a ‘welly good time’, a night ‘welly spent’, you’re ‘welly ballers’. We get it.
The night began with over eight hundred guests arriving for the sit-down dinner. Greeted with a welcome drink and reception, the dinner included charcuterie boards, bottles of wine, and a roast and curry for the main course. Musical guests including acoustic duo Cal & Ally and the Jazzworks band provided the soundtrack for the first half of the night. As the ball fell on Guy Fawkes Night, attendees delightedly discovered that a fireworks display had been planned for the after-dinner entertainment to kick off the party that would soon follow. The fireworks were the beginning of my evening at Welly Ball, as I arrived just in time to step outside the marquee and watch sparks of red, white, gold, and green shower the sky with dazzling light and elicit gasps and cheers from the assembled crowd. It was there that I also got my next impression of the congenial atmosphere of the night, as I snapped a photo of some guests and had my picture taken against the backdrop of the fireworks in return.
After the dinner ended, the afterparty welcomed upwards of a thousand additional guests to Falside Mill. The five DJs for the evening, Tim Berger, Walker, Corran, Harry Vyv-Rob, and Ashton Squires each brought their own unique mixes to the evening (and yes, House, definitely), with a fair ratio of significantly more hits than misses when it comes to the musically-discerning crowd in attendance. Some of my musical highlights of the evening were the classic throwbacks to ABBA and Earth, Wind & Fire, and crowd-pleasing selections ranging from ‘Hot and Cold’ to ‘Freed from Desire’. My personal favourite choice was Daryl Hall & John Oates’s ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, which brought out every possible retro-inspired dance move from the enthusiastic crowd.
Of all the events that I’ve attended in my time at St Andrews, Welly Ball was perhaps the one with the most lively ambience. Each of the committee members with whom I spoke were truly passionate and happy about the work they put into the event, from the Front of House team to the photographers. And not a minute went by without me either watching someone recognise a friend from across the room, or then becoming the one to recognise and greet three separate friends from three separate circles. I’m convinced it has something to do with the welly boots. Never have I ever felt so comfortable in a long evening of dancing. I have never been a fan of heels, so I wish it was more socially acceptable to bring the boots you use for your gardening and rainy day walks along on a night out. They also admittedly saved attendees’ feet from the floor that was absolutely covered in tiny shards of trampled plastic cups – my only suggestion for the ball’s organisation: next time, a few tactically placed garbage cans might do the trick.
At the same time, this feeling of comfort was palpable in the different accessories worn by guests at Welly Ball. Seeing attendees feeling confident enough to get creative with the black tie dress code is always a delight. Some of my favourite accessories of the evening included a tiny bright yellow welly-shaped purse, a ladybug backpack, flower garlands, and bejewelled hair clips. These touches of originality paired perfectly with the whimsical tone of the evening set by the hundreds of pairs of welly boots roaming across the venue.
Overall, Welly Ball 2022 was a resounding success. With excellent entertainment and amenities, solid organisation, and levels of fun dialled up to an eleven, this classic event combined evening glamour with welly boot comfort. What can I say apart from… I had a welly good time?
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