As a once-in-a-century affair, the 600th Finale Ball generated an unfamiliar curiosity that doesn’t usually accompany St Andrews’ annual events.
It had no niche among the usual slew of functions, no-one to consult for a previous year’s opinion, and no Kinkell Byre. Yet despite its outward unfamiliarity, the 600th Finale Ball blended in seamlessly—perhaps a little too much so—as this year’s addition to St Andrews’ social calendar.
Wrapping up a whole day’s celebration of the University’s sixth centennial—which included a food fair and kiddie rides, graduation and St Andrew’s Day, the Fellowship’s ball was preceded by an atmosphere of celebration. Indeed, attendees were greeted with a lively ceilidh, bagpiping, and The Other Guys; and entry into Lower College Lawn presented us with swiveling searchlights and a majestic panoramic view of the marquee. Before entering Lower College Lawn, ‘special wristbands’—non-disposable straps with a gray plastic rectangle—were thrust onto our wrists at the archway, accompanied only with a “you’ll see” as explanation.
The marquee’s interior was visually splendid; neatly arranged fairy lights lined the main area’s ceiling, fluorescent lights danced around the stage area in time to the music, and an ethereal blue glow pervaded both sections of the tent. Bibi’s cupcakes were given to the first six hundred attendees — those who weren’t as lucky on the food front were able to purchase from the Buffalo Truck parked right outside the Lawn’s archway, and everyone received a complimentary vodka shot. Musical acts featured the aforementioned Other Guys, student DJ April Vellacott, and headliner Del Pello from Amsterdam. Dance numbers included a great mix of the old (shout-out to Usher’s ‘Yeah’) and the new.
But aside from the ‘special wristbands’—which at one point flashed in time to music, the 600th Finale Ball offered little to distinguish itself from the standard St Andrews event. Without the rides of May Ball, Welly’s unconventional footwear, and performances of the fashion shows and concerts, the Finale Ball lacked an element around which its reputation would revolve. The theme of vintage black tie was a little too understated and enough like regular attire to be undetectable, and except for those who partook in the ceilidh, the elements of Scottish tradition were enjoyed only during the brief and shivering crossing of the Quad to the marquee.
The lack of trademark did not, however, conceal the affair’s merits; the venue was visually stunning (and warm!), the music great to dance to, and the ball flawlessly executed. While a little more pizazz would not have been out of place, the Fellowship pulled off an unquestionably elegant final celebration of St Andrews’ six-hundredth birthday.
Image Credits: Sunny Light