Matthew Gray, Cate Casalme and Henry Crabtree review some of the weekend events that rounded up this year’s festival.

Strictly Come Dancing

One of On The Rocks’ signature events had Matthew Gray cha-cha-cha-ing all the way home.

As soon as audience members entered The StAge to be greeted by the spirited rhythms of Mambo that set the scene pre-show, we could all knew we were in for an entertaining afternoon.

On The Rocks presents Strictly Come Dancing is such a strong and well-executed idea that one can see why it has become an annual event. Part of its success comes from the recognisable elements from the television namesake that feature throughout: glitzy costumes, upbeat covers of familiar pop songs. Even the token ‘mean’ judge Craig Revel Horwood has a counterpart in Tom Schnabel, appropriately attired in all-black costume and in the mould of most reality television, toned down by the more ‘sympathetic’ female counterparts, Pim and Elisa.

And yet in this university setting, the familiar, heteronormative formula is presented with a knowing wink and nudge that contributes to the fun of the show. Even the twee ‘Keep Dancing’ sign-off is teased throughout but only appears right at the end – a satisfying touch.

The extra layer of entertainment comes from the coded ‘Battle of the BNOCs’ that takes place though, because while spending up to £100 to be seen with a VIP pass at an event is all well and good, nothing really demonstrates your mettle like a well-choreographed cha-cha-cha, as the shows various first-time ‘celebrity’ guests demonstrated. Coming from a multitude of backgrounds, ranging from Friends of MSF to Cross-country captains to improv actors from Blind Mirth, these familiar faces presented a smorgasbord of ballroom styles that included graceful waltzes in multiple styles alongside bouncier quicksteps and jives, one of which even managed to incorporate an umbrella in creative fashion. These were all accompanied by welcome comments from the judges on the technical elements of the choreographies.

One of the loveliest things I’ve noticed about On the Rocks across various events is that the audiences seem to bring with them a certain receptiveness and ‘anything goes’ attitude that energises the events and Strictly certainly was enlivened by the cheerful interjections of spectators which encouraged the dancers. This was sometimes heightened by the event’s two charismatic judges. However, their determination to find a joke in every detail of the afternoon sometimes felt a little laboured and intruded on the actual meat of the show: the dancing.

As well as the judges’ verdicts, the audience were also invited to cast a vote and while these were being counted, we were all treated to performances from BALLADS members. These included a spirited jazz dance from Frederico Mazzola, which had everyone grinning for the entire duration, and a fiery routine from two of the judges themselves, who demonstrated all the styles seen across the afternoon in a three-minute medley which sustained schmouldering theatrics throughout.

Congratulations to Gabriel Uboldi, Head of Events for the OTR festival, who with his elegant partner Leonie Have presented a provocative cha-cha which had all the ladies in the audience (and admittedly, this reviewer) whooping and wolf-whistling. It was heartening to see the strong chemistry between them and all the other couples dancing – one really got the sense that new friendships had been made throughout the rehearsal process. The final congratulations must however go to all the celebrities. Isobel, Kiana, Sasha, Avery and Gabriele who all delivered entertaining and fun performances which, considering the impressively limited rehearsal time afforded, deserves to be commended. It’s a 10 from me, darlings!

Groovy Green Golf

Cate Casalme single-handedly revives our Sports Section by going to see what Groovy Green Golf was all about.

Every year, OTR works with kids around the St. Andrews area for the festival and this year they showcased their work in the Groovy Green Golf event. With a low budget, the Groovy Green Golf committee came up with the ingenious plan of creating a golf course made of recycled materials. The course was placed in the Byre Theatre with the committee taking full advantage of the UV lights.

The course itself was fun- and quite difficult!- as participants used inflatable pool items to put the ball through a castle, bowling pins, and Big Ben while each level was surrounded by the artwork of the various children’s groups. Kudos to the committee for such a funky event!

Inklight: Pound Poems

Henry Crabtree went along to check out Inklight’s annual event.

One of over 40 events annually, On The Rock’s “Pound Poems” returned for the festival this year. A fan favourite, taking place at the students’ union last week and popular North Street coffee shop Taste this week, the event provides festival attendees with charming short pieces of poetry. An interactive exhibit of the arts and culture in St Andrews, “Pound Poems” was staffed by volunteers from Inklight, the creative writing society, and their volunteers proved friendly and welcoming with people who wanted their own poem for just £1.

Attendees were served with their very own personalised poem on the spot, to their own theme or about them and their hobbies, through the oft-forgotten medium of typewritten poetry: a lovely commemorative piece to take home from On The Rocks, made by members adept at crafting beautifully-presented creative writing.

At The Tribe we’d like to thanks On The Rocks for a great week of events and for all their cooperation with press for events.