Jo Boon reviews GLITTERBALL, one of the biggest LGBTQ+ events of the year, and explains her feeling of disappointment on coming away. This year felt more like a sweet sixteen than a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. 

‘GLITTERBALL wasn’t gay enough!’ has been the most frequent critique found on people’s lips after the LGBTQ+ ball. There is part of me that agrees. There weren’t even bowls of glitter as there had been in previous years, which rather took something away from the name of the event. The Old Course banned this after last years explosion but, if the venue for GLITTERBALL bans glitter, perhaps you should change venue? To give credit where it’s due, the venue will almost certainly be changed for next year and I have every confidence it will be bigger and better than ever.

Before continuing, I feel the need to add a disclaimer about this idea of something ‘being gay.’ I am not arguing that there is inherently a difference between ‘gay behaviour’ and ‘straight behaviour.’ Glitter is not inherently gay. I understand that many within the LGBTQ+ community are uncomfortable with the performative aspect of ‘coming out’ and the sexualised nature of some of the movement. This is an important discussion to have!


However, on a personal note, there are certain things I expect to see from GLITTERBALL: I want glitter and rainbows and unicorns and drag and crazy, cheesey music. These things do not represent the entire LGBTQ+ community; I am pansexual and they don’t even represent me in my day to day life, but it’s a party and I expect to have fun. I did have fun, the ball was pretty and, for the most part, well organised. Yet, I still left a little disappointed.

The VIP performances included: Pumpkin Spice Latte, Tommy Rowe and Struan Erlenborn, Drag Act- Ru Jazzle and Bella Mead, and a Bowie Tribute by Tommy Rowe, Kate Kitchens, Emma Seckel, Christopher Miller and Chris Harraghy on Piano. Tommy Rowe is a wonderful performer but I wasn’t completely comfortable with the organiser’s boyfriend performing twice when there is so much other talent in this town. Likewise, with Lightbox being given exclusive rights when for most other balls press passes for photographers are made available. Perhaps that’s unfair, it may well be that other people weren’t available but I would hope to see more diversity in next year’s line up. Most importantly, there really should be performers from outside of St Andrews. It was the most exciting part of last year’s ball and was sorely lacking from this year.


The DJ Staley Sharples was good fun, but the music wasn’t enough to really get people going, or, at least for me, cheesy enough. After the wonderful Pink Eye on Picture Day, a student band, performed, it kind of felt like everything went downhill. There was an awkward change over period where something went wrong and Tommy Rowe was back singing for us again. People bopped awkwardly for a few moments before heading off the dance floor in search of over priced drinks.

Nowhere has cheap drinks in St Andrews though and, despite the glitter ban, the Old Course is a lovely venue. The event was certainly pretty and the bubble machine provided beautiful photos, as did the star backdrop at the photo booth (although props would have been appreciated!) Admittedly it felt slightly more like a sweet sixteen than an LGBTQ+ celebration but it was a picturesque ball in and of itself.


Perhaps the real problem was that last year set the standard too high. I couldn’t have found anything to complain about and it was possibly the best ball I’ve been to in St Andrews. Comparison is inevitable but perhaps unhelpful and GLITTERBALL this year was by no means a disaster. I enjoyed it and would definitely encourage everyone to attend next year when I’m sure it will return to the glitter magic we all know and love.



Jo Boon



ALL photos courtesy of Lightbox.