Welly Ball: Is Bigger Always Better?

George Wilder reviews the annual welly attired romp in Kinkell Byre.


‘So it’s a ball?’




‘Another one?’




‘But with Wellies?’




With this I had reduced yet another of my home friends to dazed confusion over the events culture of my University. And as many first years picked up their wellies for the first time they could be forgiven for wondering, ‘what the hell is going on?’ Yet, despite the ironic snobbery of my friends in Newcastle and Bristol, this is actually one of the least superfluous events in St Andrews. As I once again drained my final glass of pre-drink nectar and left for Kinkell Byre I considered how Welly Ball, far from being an object of St Andrean exclusivity, was actually a convergence consisting of many universities across the UK. And so, after a brief bus ride, I found myself surrounded by a greater variety of universities than I could hope to encounter anywhere else. Welly Ball owes this to The Challenge, the annual shooting competition that precedes the event itself.


Dinner Guests were greeted by the same standard of decoration they had come to expect from previous years, along with a thirst quenching cocktail courtesy of the sponsor San Pellegrino. After a short reception I find myself sitting at my table, trying desperately to forget I will one day have the same amount of work as the fourth years on my left and right. This much longed for amnesia was quickly fulfilled by the bottles of wine placed on each table. Despite the formal black tie nature of the event, the dinner environment created by the committee was one that encouraged movement, with many moving between tables after the food was served. Although this may of course have been an attempt to evade the quintessential mediocre food that characterises many Kinkell events. Aside from this the dinner was professionally pulled off considering the large size of the congregation. By this stage the merriness of the atmosphere was totally infectious, with one group continuing their meal despite one of their number being sick at the table.


Hours later, while doing a dance that would later be described by onlookers as like a Zebra trying to peel a potato with a sponge, I come back to my senses: it’s the afterparty. As the venue fills it’s clear that Welly Ball has pulled off its efforts to make this year the biggest and best so far. Tunes ring out across the dancefloor and the famous themed footwear does nothing to stop an array of moves erupting across it whether patrons could dance or, like in my case, even if they could not. Despite the large crowd, the space managed to maintain a mixture of tipsy conversations and drunken revelry long into the night, forcing a certain question as the ebb and flow of the party began to move.


‘What’s going on?’


‘The Buses are here’




But it was indeed true, for the first time at a St Andrews event I not only never checked the time, but was shocked at how quickly the entire night had gone, as were most of the guests, who hovered with a sense of melancholy before realising they were still drunk and dashing for the door. Here, again a hallmark of many Kinkell events, those who had left their beloved DKNY and Jaeger attire found themselves scrabbling at coat check, with many left out in the cold as their designer jackets and coats lay out of reach.


I found myself, as is a common occurrence when the crowds begin to swarm to the buses, taking a moment to finish my drink and look out into the devastation left behind. The afterparty had been a raging success, a widespread cure for all the melancholy that arises from an ever decreasing amount of sunlight across our town. In fact, the sheer enjoyment of the afterparty begs the question of whether a large dinner for those not involved in The Challenge was even needed. I leave positive that this is one of the best nights of the Semester, but equally sure that I would have had just as good a time with any form of ticket, especially seeing how much more I had paid for the below par meal. As the committee no doubt revels in another successful year it would perhaps pay dividends to consider just how to bring the preceding meal to the level of the following party and, if no progress is made, just how large it should be in future.


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