This tale begins as many from St Andrews do, with a set of coaches parked on South Street, destined for Kinkell Byre. Each one was filled with a buzz of excitement and anticipation for what is quite arguably one of the best events in the university’s social calendar. In fact, last year’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ themed extravaganza won ‘Best Event’ of the year in the society awards. This time, rather than down the rabbit hole, we were to be transported to the lands of Arabia. The pressure was on for Bute Ball 2018 to live up to its reputation.
First impressions were promising, a prosecco reception greeted each guest as they entered Kinkell through a series of fabric tunnels. The bright colours and shapes created by these clever constructions seemed to change how the first room felt. The light passing through the fabric created hues of red, orange and purple. It was different, and having attended quite a few balls in my time, I was glad to see a change in entrance arrangements. Upon walking through to the main room, we were greeted by the familiar lighting and magical atmosphere that transforms Kinkell into such a lovely venue. Tables were laid out, awaiting the guests to find their place. All were named after the stories of Arabian Nights and decorated with tissue paper flowers. Complimentary Turkish delight and the wine provided for the table were much appreciated, as ever. I particularly liked the Moscato they had on offer. What I liked even more was the Bute Ball ice cream flavour. Jannetta’s Gelataria kindly provided this creation comprised of pistachios, cardamom, rose and pomegranate flavours. It tasted so fresh and really helped emphasise the theme. Unfortunately, the ice cream was not the only food that was a little cold. As part of the starter, a slightly disappointing falafel was served, which could only be saved by the hummus and other appetisers on offer. The lamb main course was also not as warm as one would expect and neither were the poached pears. Accompanying the pear dessert was baklava, served in a tray-bake style dish. Albeit tasty, this required a little excavation work to serve as it had not been sliced already. I won’t claim to be the baklava expert, but I had expected better from the meal overall and spoke to others who agreed. Catering for a ball is no minor challenge however, and I commend The Cottage Kitchen for tailoring the menu to the theme so well.
Aside from the slight disappointment of the food, all other aspects of the ball seemed nothing short of splendid. Excellent entertainment came in the form of some belly dancing, a ceilidh and great music from the band and DJ. Both staff and students seemed to enjoy the evening very much. The credit for organising such a wonderful ball goes to Aaron Dornan, to whom many rounds of applause were due. I’d also like to mention some of the unsung heroes of this ball, and for many other events for that matter. The waiters and waitresses were so attentive, especially with refilling the water for the table (which was helpful considering the amount of accessible wine). The brilliant Bute committee did so much at the ball itself, and even more behind the scenes. Photography at events like this is so essential for capturing some of the best moments. The images were efficiently processed and uploaded soon after the ball had taken place, and all that I have seen have been a great standard. Credit for these is due to the photographers, which included the ever-patient and kind Anna Dunlop (her work can be viewed on the Bute Ball Facebook page and also here https://www.instagram.com/annadunlop28/). Another nice touch was the photo booth, which is always fun. The gentleman running it was funny, chatty and great at helping with the props as well as managing the queue. I’m sure he introduced himself to us, yet I confess I cannot remember his name. One thing that I will not forget though, is the wonderful evening that was this year’s Bute Ball.