Having not been to the Kate Kennedy Club’s Charity Opening Ball since my second year, just as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, as a now-fourth year, I felt both a touch of nostalgia for the excitement of going back to what was my first-ever black tie event at St Andrews as a fresher. A lot has changed since I last stormed into a marquee in a field by the Old Course Hotel, as this year the ball was held at Bowhouse, a barn in Anstruther – a venue that has recently been growing in popularity, as it was where DONT WALK was held last year. I thought that this was a welcome change, a great venue that worked well for both the dinner and afterparty.
The ball did feel like a first-year mixer, which was understandable with there being a new addition of a Freshers’ Dinner, where you could buy a ticket for a designated dinner table with fellow first year students. For the Freshers’ Dinner, first-year students could apply to the dinner in pairs of ‘Saints’ and ‘Sinners’, according to the theme of this year’s ball. The freshers that I spoke to during the night seemed to have had a lovely dinner, meeting new friends, familiarising themselves with the faces they will undoubtedly bump into the next four years. Despite the dinner being dominated by huddles of prosecco-fuelled first years posing in front of professional photographers – and one fresher I know did come up to me and questioned why I was at a “Freshers ball” – I had an enjoyable three-course meal nevertheless.
The ball overall was great fun and speaking to many people who went to the reception, feedback was largely positive. At the same time, this year’s ball seemed to lack the sparkle that I recall from my previous outings, and ultimately did not have any stand-out features which differentiated it from other black tie-events in town. It is important to note, however, that this may in part be down to my own personal disenchantment with the saturation and ritual of these events. There were several elements of the night that did deserve a special mention – especially the music, with the student band The Collective providing some fabulous music to boogie along to.
Personally, I did have some issues with this evening… or should I say, afternoon? I think that it was lovely that the Kate Kennedy Club so very kindly decided that the buses for dinner should leave at 2:50 PM, so that I could at least attempt to try and get my money’s worth, however, make no mistake, one does look like a lemon walking past the library at half-past two in full black-tie.
Furthermore, while your humble Editor in Chief does not mean to sound entitled… it was clearly advertised on the mere £89 Dinner Ticket that you would receive “Vodka Shots On Demand”. In all honesty, this was simply bizarre to advertise with, and quite a far-fetched claim that I only half-believed the event’s organisers would go through with. Even members of the Kate Kennedy seemed baffled at the claim from their own publicity – clearly, they had no defence. I did seem to be one of the only people however that had such an issue with this but I was, I feel rightly, quite frustrated at the false advertising, and I did go up to multiple members to see if a vodka shot would magically appear in my hand. Yet paying £44 extra for a Dinner Ticket, which got you some pulled pork, stuffing, carrots, potatoes, and a drop of gravy, along with a bottle of wine per head, does give you some expectations that you would like to see fulfilled. Nevertheless, I can say I honestly actually quite enjoyed the dinner at Opening Ball. My friend did have a hair in her food, but the situation was quickly remedied by the catering team with a fresh plate – and I do understand that mass catering is never going to be entirely smooth sailing.
Overall, Opening Ball 2023 satisfied much of my nostalgia for events in the days when I hadn’t arrived at that jaded and slightly cynical stage that is known as your fourth year of university. The venue was ultimately a success, despite having to travel slightly further out than other balls hosted throughout the season, and I had a lovely and nostalgic last Saturday evening (or afternoon?) of September before the deadlines came on in earnest.