Opening Ball vs IDEAS Conference

Illustration: Monica Burns

Every week we’ll put two events head to head. But we want to know what you think! Vote for your favourite and see who comes out on top. This week, Devini Pabari interviews the Kate Kennedy Club on the Opening Ball and Lucy Jones speaks to the Carnegie Club on the IDEAS Conference.

KKC’s Opening Ball

Advertised as the first black tie ball of the year, the Kate Kennedy Charity Opening Ball is an institution in St Andrews, with hoards of keen freshers getting swept up in the champagne-induced excitement of one of the most anticipated balls in the Bubble. I spoke to Chris Kunkler, the ball convenor, to find out what the night is all about.

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First on the list is what to expect. Chris walked us through the standard layout: “You enter through Sallies’ Quad, around the PH (unless you’re too drunk). There’ll be two highland pipers in the arches and you’ll walk down the steps to Lower College Lawn, to the free champagne reception as always.”

The venue itself will consist of a bar area and a “massive dancefloor,” and he’s promised a wider range of acts than last year, “which were just DJs and stuff,” with the full line up being a “more eclectic mix.”

So the second question is: who are the mysterious acts? Chris reveals: “We have That Swing Sensation, who will provide jazz and swing music during the champagne reception, The Hurricanes, who are a 4 piece rock and roll cover band – very good quality! – and then John Marr, who is a mash-up DJ from Edinburgh who will get everything a bit more dancy. The headliners are Seedy Sound System who have played at May Ball before; they are an interesting one, mixing dance music and DJ with live drums and a saxophone, so should be good. Then finally Alex Bryson will be closing off the show – he was a hit at Starfields and will be a great home grown talent to round off the night.”

Chris is also keen to emphasise the charity aspect of the Ball. This year the proceeds will go to Home Start, a local charity that works with disadvantaged families, focusing on Fife. Nightline, the student support hotline, is manning the cloakrooms to help raise awareness of their presence at the University.

“It’s just an informal ball to welcome freshers,” Chris commented. When I pointed out that it was now the end of week 2, he argued that the awkwardness of those hazy nights at the Union had been dispelled, so now was the perfect time to hold this annual spectacle.

He continues to talk about the other attractions – one being the Buffalo Food Truck, which might have “a couple of special things they’re putting on for the Ball.”

When asked to compare it to other balls, such as Mermaids’ and May, he says that the main difference is the location – the change from Kinkell is “refreshing.” He also notes that there aren’t any gimmicks like dinners and casinos to detract from the main event.

I attended the Ball in my first year, and was duly amazed at the champagne and bagpipe reception, the live music and the glamorous tent on Lower College Lawn. As a fourth year though, I’m beginning to find it a bit repetitive and dull, so hopefully the KKC will surprise us this year. If you’re a fresher, go: you won’t regret it. If you’re a returning student and still have a headache from Freshers’ Week then it may be better to give this one a miss.

The epic battle of the events copy

CC’s IDEAS Conference

Tomorrow, St Andrews will welcome the “strongest line up of speakers” it sees all year, courtesy of the student-run Carnegie Club. This credibility was admittedly assured by James Penn, the president of the Club, but that is not to say that the various guests participating are not of considerable calibre.

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The Carnegie Club describes itself as “a bridge between academia and the business world,” and hails this event as an unmissable chance to network and speak informally with leaders in the industry. The conference itself is not the first of its kind, following a number of similar past events which also hosted an impressive line-up of guest speakers. This year the theme is energy, allowing a wide range of academics and key names in the worlds of banking, consultancy and politics to share their thoughts.

The guest speakers have been organised into three panels, each of which will cover a different issue and will be open to questions and debate from the floor. The first will discuss ‘Power Politics and Revolution’, welcoming names such as Sir Menzies Campbell (former leader of the Liberal Democrats and chancellor of the University of St Andrews) and Roger Cabrera (advisory director and former student of St Andrews).

Each speaker will be given seven minutes before the floor is opened for a question and answer session, giving students an invaluable chance to interact with the guest speakers and directly address points made.

The second panel will address the issue of ‘The Energy Sector: A Fossilised Monopoly?’, bringing to the stage more great speakers including John Purvis MSP, CEO of Scottish Renewables, Niall Stuart and Paul Younger, a professor of energy engineering at the University of Glasgow.

Following on from this, the third panel will discuss ‘Fuelling Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ with CEOs Colin Welsh and Dima Rifai as well as John Ferguson, director of a Scottish-based environmental facilitation and ideas company.

The conference is not just aimed at arts students – chemists and physicists are also encouraged to attend the event, as the key question is how to power the world.

The £18 ticket includes the chance to attend a coffee reception with all the guest speakers before the panels take place and a full networking lunch afterwards in Lower College Hall. Here, students will have the chance to talk to the speakers “in a more informal atmosphere.” For third and fourth year students, this could be a crucial opportunity to get career-related advice and make valuable contacts.

James commented: “It is fantastic to have that kind of high calibre people at your university, right across the street from your classes.”

What seemed clear to me from the interview and the president’s general excitement was that of all the Carnegie Club’s annual conferences, this one has the potential to be the best yet. Tickets for the past event were of such high demand that the Carnegie Club had to up capacity by 20%, so I would be sure to purchase yours now.

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Illustration: Monica Burns


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