September, it was nice knowing you. We had a brief, fun and relatively care-free relationship, but it’s over now. We should move forward to more serious times… bring on Halloween and all things to do in October at the University of St Andrews! And so it begins, the social calendar of this small corner of Fife is well underway and we are fast approaching the first black tie event of the year. Opening Ball, as defined by the YourUnion website, is ‘A night of glitz and glamour for all. We welcome the new students in a way only we know how – with a night to remember.’ I can vouch for the fact that ball culture is one of the many unforgettable aspects of life in St. Andrews, and the first of the year is set to be one not to miss! Don’t take my word for it though; I got some real answers to these quick-fire questions from the lovely ball convener, Isabela Campos de Almeida.
- Do you have any advice for freshers, as for most of them this is their first university ball?
‘I know that the whole idea of arriving “fashionably late” in St Andrews is very popular, but our champagne reception and the Highland Piper will not be greeting the guests during the entire night, so since it is one of the highlights, I would advise freshers to get to the ball relatively early so they would not miss that.
- On what to wear to Opening Ball:
In relation to the dress code, I have been getting a lot of questions about how strict the event is regarding that. What I have to say is that the whole magic behind Opening Ball is the idea that it is the first black tie event of the year, and I know that many freshers have not been to many black ties events before, so just go with the whole idea. Dress up, put on your best clothes, but at the same time feel comfortable with what you are wearing. For example, as a lady myself, I know that stiletto heels are not the best thing to wear on Lower College Lawn, I wore a pair last year and it was a big mistake.’
- What is going to be new and exciting for this year’s ball, especially for returning students?
‘The small tent outside proved to be very popular last year, so the fact that we are enlarging it and adding a bar to it is exciting. The new food options, which include student run businesses, should also be something to look out for. I have also heard that something that has people excited is the main headliner, 8-bit, our duo of Mexican DJs.’
- Which charities are being supported by the Kate Kennedy Club through events such as Opening Ball this year?
‘The charities being supported are some of the same ones we have been supporting for a while now: Home Start, Children First and Worldwide Cancer Research.’
- Are there any particular highlights you’d recommend looking out for?
‘Everywhere you look at Opening Ball you will find a highlight. Just enjoy every second and it will definitely be an unforgettable night.’
Further to Isabela’s point about clothing, I’d like to add that the debate about wearing long and short dresses is continuous, yet superfluous: dress to impress, and skirt length doesn’t really matter as long as you’re comfortable. This applies to all those considering kilts, too; the BBC is forecasting weather for Saturday as having temperatures around 10 degrees and a ‘moderate breeze’.
In summary, expectations are high and I wish the best of luck to those involved in the organising and running of the event. It’s time to iron those shirts. Invest in the hairspray. Send Snapchats to the best friend asking if the back of this dress looks alright. Also, don’t forget to take a decent photo for the parents. Listen out for the bagpipes echoing from Lower College Lawn on Saturday at 8pm. I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the champagne reception beneath a luxury marquee.