During my time here, I have come to know The Kate Kennedy Charity May Ball as THE red carpet event of St Andrews and in fact, the fashion is one of the many things that make this particular ball stand out. Some opted for a more formal look with flowing floor-length gowns, taking us back to our glory days at the senior prom. The boys donned the occasional kilt – my friend had the pleasure of learning that although a true Scotsman never tells what’s underneath, he apparently can ‘reveal’ his secret by other means (#cheeky), and some spiffy suits, with some mixing up their outfits with a slightly more colourful bow-tie.
The buses left in three stages: 5:15pm for dinner ballots, 7:45pm for VIP, and 8:45pm for the ‘classic’ ticket holders. That being said, I saw many a VIP ticket holder board the last bus, and it seemed to point to a larger issue with the event: checking the category and authenticity of wristbands was not exactly a priority for the security staff, and tales of forged wristbands flew abundant. Although the blame for the pushing, shoving, and ‘forgetting how to queue’ ultimately falls on the often inebriated guests rather than the hosts, I cannot help but think that there might have been some method to make the transportation process smoother – especially on the way back – whether it be more staff or queue barriers. But once we pulled into Kinkell, such qualms dissipated as we saw the rides in full motion, lights flashing and spirits running high.
We passed the BlackHorn truck on the left and made our way onto the main area, which offered the usual feel and ambience of any other event held at Kinkell. After grabbing a drink or two, we made our way to the long and rather hectic queue for the ride ‘La Bamba,’ a giant pendulum-like bench. Concern for people’s safety seemed to be lax as the guests made their way with all of their belongings into the seats that were only just secured by the safety bar. As I floated out of my seat, both exhilarated, terrified, and clutching my dress and bag, I staggered off the ride as it came to an end only to find a passport lying on the ground. It belonged to a girl who had been on the ride with us and I can only guess that it flew out of her bag just seconds earlier. Again, although we have a responsibility as guests to be aware and smart about handling our belongings (accessories, strapless shoes, other valuables, etc.), the lack of security notices were concerning perhaps for a not-nearly-drunk-enough and nervous attendee such as myself.
Being one of the largest events in terms of attendance, the marquee was substantially extended for the VIP/dinner guests, in which a live band and headlining act, Felix Jaehn, took to the stage. The VIP perks were not crystal clear in the advertisement stages of the event, but to my limited knowledge they included unlimited chocolate fountain treats and Jannetta’s ice cream. As a ‘classic’ attendee, the bulk of my time included parting from and trying to reunite with friends who had access to the VIP section, which is hard to do with the lack of phone signal at the venue. For future attendees, I would probably recommend that to avoid being marooned in one section or the other, plan well in advance alongside a solid friend or group and buy the same type of ticket so you can stick together.
Overall, it was an enjoyable night, albeit a little disorganised. I suppose I can only hope that guests carry themselves with more poise for the group’s collective well-being. Essentially, what you’re paying for with the ‘classic’ (which is just a nicer word for ‘standard’) ticket are the basic entrance fee and the amusement rides, which shut down earlier this year to make way for the buses, which also were a little underwhelming for the price of £45. Although the premium tickets priced at £75 for VIP and £95 for the dinner ballot, which is a strain on most students’ finances, the premium options are what set May Ball apart from the rest of the event calendar and are definitely worth saving up for, which is what I’ll be doing next year. After all, it is the Kate Kennedy Club – more is more, and the best things in life are not free!