Big Top Ball


So I spent my afternoon clowning around with two of the guys organising Big Top Ball as they explained how they had been juggling all their duties in the run up to ticket sales. I’m not lion when I say it sounds like they’ve been having a ball with it! (Okay, I’ll stop with the awful puns now.)

Ed Coombe and Olly Lennard, in charge of sponsorship and entertainment respectively, are two of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. In their own words, Ed is “more of an ideas man,” and Olly is “in charge of making sure everyone has fun,” and if these two continue this way, then the ball looks set to be a blast!

As the grand finale to On The Rocks, Big Top certainly has a lot to live up to, despite being a new ball. However, with promises of fire eaters, popcorn, candy floss, acrobats, a capella, circus stalls and a “special brew”, I can’t see this failing to impress.

The ball will be hosted on Lower College Lawn in a big top tent (naturally), with two sections. The first will be “where everyone is dancing and partying,” explains Olly, “and the second will have the food and acts.” Ed chips in to say that there should also be exciting mystery prizes with the exhibits!

According to Ed, the concept of the event was conceived one drunken night by Rob Sturrock after the two won Race2Barcelona. The important thing to remember is that to them, this is not just a ball; it’s an evening with multiple elements, brought together under the circus theme, making it fresh, different and exciting.

When quizzed on what circus acts would be there, the conversation took a surreal turn. “We can neither confirm nor deny the presence of a large pachyderm or bears. However the chance of a lion appearing is high.” I can only assume that they were referring to our very own Rory McLion, yet for some reason they were insistent on the fact that there would be a cage. And trained fish. I believe unicorns were also mentioned…

Speaking of Rory, the two were keen to mention the fact that this is a charity ball. With tickets at £25, and such a wide variety of attractions, there isn’t much scope for “raising a lot of money” this time around, but the aim is to ensure people return next year.

I was also curious about how the two had found planning a ball from scratch. They were quick to assure me that they were “not jaded by the ball making experience,” and had enjoyed the challenge of starting a new ball that incorporated different things. “It would have been fun even without the circus stuff – we’ve got a good live band and DJ. It’s all going swimmingly,” he joked, “apart from the fact that the tigers can’t swim.”

With a capacity of 550, and people thinking the ball is sold out already, the hype is mounting. Ed and Olly seem rather confused as to where this rumour has come from, given that tickets don’t actually go on sale until the 7th. But there’s still a lot of work to do before then. Posters and banners need to be put up, and the grand finale to their photoshoot is going to be released soon, or at least when Olly has finished photoshopping it.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a vague mention of a red nose taster event. Apparently, “if you see people wearing red noses around St Andrews, they’re probably connected with Big Top Ball, or they’re just weird.” Yes, my curiosity has been piqued now…

When asked to sum up the night, the boys said: “You can pre-drink your face off, stumble in, collect your free drink. Might want to be careful of the fire jugglers though, don’t want to get too close to them if you’ve been on the spirits. Then hit your friend on the head with a coconut and get escorted out.”

So, with unconfirmed elephant sightings and the promise of fire jugglers, will you be at what’s described as the best value ball in St Andrews?

Tickets go on sale outside the Union on March 7th, 11-2.


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