Welly Ball (comprising a formal dinner and after-party) is held in honour of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity that raises awareness about mental illness in young people. It also unites the two main St Andrews passions: formalwear and dressing like a genteel farmer, to come together. Having never been to Welly Ball before (and, truth be told, having panic-bought my wellies from a hardware shop the day of the event…) I’d now like to advocate for wellies universally replacing heels as the go-to event footwear. This was probably the first event at Kinkell Byre I haven’t limped home from barefoot, violently cursing the inventor of the stiletto.
Kinkell Byre has its limitations as a space but it must be said that the committee made the best of it, attempting to do some crowd-control by transforming the adjoining marquee from dining room into an additional dance-floor with live music and a bar. Music on the main dance-floor was provided by a D.J.
My memory is admittedly hazy, but the music choice seemed largely to be nostalgic crowd-pleasers (think the Friends theme song and ‘Breaking Free’ from High School Musical.) As someone whose general rule of thumb for music to dance to is “the cheesier the better,” I have to say I fully approve of this approach. The atmosphere on the dance-floor was upbeat, or to quote one attendee, “super lit”—towards the bar, of course, it inevitably descended into slightly more aggressive, harried territory, with large amounts of jostling in the relatively small reception area.
Most of my issues with the ball were the generic issues of any St Andrews ball—bar and toilet queues, having drinks spilled on you, and constantly losing your friends in the crowds. As far as I know, there was no replication of the legendary Barbour mix-up scandal of ’16, although the Welly Ball Facebook page was inundated with the requisite barrage of lost property posts the next day. As a seasoned fourth year I now just generally assume any ball is going to be some form of partially moderated chaos and roll with it; on this front, Welly Ball was not particularly different from any other ball. That being said, I did leave before the ball ended at two and subsequently avoided the true transportation and cloakroom related calamities that reportedly occurred at the end of the night—that dark hour when any Kinkell event stops being a ball and becomes a lot of drunk, tired people in the middle of the hills trying to cram themselves onto a single coach. But again, this is something that even mammoth amounts of organisation can only partially solve.
All in all, Welly Ball provides a quintessential, ball experience that’s easy on your feet—and, most importantly, for a good and fully deserving cause.