With its unique theme and dress code – alongside the fact that all proceeds from the event go straight to the supporting charity, the Xavier Project – Bongo Ball really does stand out as a distinct annual event on the St Andrews social calendar. The queues for the coach transportation to Crail Airfield, the event’s venue, presented a range of attire amongst partakers. Many guests stuck closely to the standard black tie dress code of St Andrews balls, whilst others were more adventurous, either adding tribal touches to outfits with printed shirts, bow ties and dresses, or truly going into the wild with animal print onesies and colourful face paint. Prominent among both the event organisers and guests were the infamous Rafiki print trousers, which are handprinted and sold by the Xavier Project itself.
The event was slow to start, with most guests arriving after half past nine despite its official start time two and a half hours previously. However, the initial vacancy of the venue allowed for a full exploration of the range of activities on offer, including a vast open-air bonfire to huddle up next to, an outdoor shisha tent with over four flavours to try, and the pleasant surprise of free popcorn for early guests.
As the weather worsened during the course of the night, the appeal of these external activities began to fade, and guests were drawn into the now fairly-occupied main venue. Crail Airfield acts as an original and exciting setting, and the Bongo team did a fantastic job of creating an interesting decor. The raised stage hosted a variety of acts, including Tudor Lion and Channel One Soundsystem, all of which provided a fantastic backing to the occasion. The experience was unfortunately dampened somewhat by a sound failure halfway through the night. Half an hour lacking in sound, especially when combined with all the venue’s lights being turned on, diminished the atmosphere considerably, but all was not lost as these technical issues were quickly resolved.
Overall, this year’s Bongo Ball was once again a triumph for all involved, and it has been of huge profit to the Xavier Project, which will use the money raised in ticket sales to assist refugees in Congo and other parts of East Africa. Not only was the event well-organised, but also the inner stingy student in all of us was delighted to take advantage of the coupons for free drinks and chips coupons provided on the night, which lessened any grumbling towards the £35 spent per ticket.
Photo credit: Lorcan O’Brien via the Bongo Ball Facebook page