Where to start with “The Infamous DRAFP Ball”? How about the most obvious change from previous years: the name of the event. Why is this ball, out of all the hall balls infamous? Scott McNicol, coordinator of the event this year, explained the rebranding.
In an interview before the ball he said that he wanted to make this event unique and the word infamous had never been used to describe it before. “That name,” McNicol says, “is kind of born from the fact that it’s become infamous as a hall ball for being more than a [typical] hall ball”. This might seem counter intuitive. After all, what qualifies as a “typical hall ball”? He goes on to explain, however, how truly extraordinary this event is.
Not only does DRA/FP host the largest number of students of all of the halls at the University, but this event also sells nearly half of its tickets to non-residents of DRA and Fife Park. For balls that Scott has helped organize in the past you could simply “book a room, get people in it that’s half the ball done,” but with DRAFP it’s a “completely different ball game”. Planning this ball was “quite a considerable escalation [from other balls he had helped plan]…a huge escalation in, first of all, the amount of people you expect, second of all, the budget, and third of all the resources”. So how does one tackle such a cumbersome task?
In order to make the ball as successful as possible, the biggest thing that Scott and his committee considered was appealing to the public. One of the first ideas that was tossed around was that of having the event in giant inflatable domes instead of using the same marquee that is used for FS. The committee quickly decided against it, however, for fear of sinking their whole budget into something that could already be provided for them. “We decided to sink the money into other places,” reflected Scott, “places that we thought people would probably enjoy more”.
The committee decided to focus the funds towards flying out amazing acts for the event, including headliner Nick Grimshaw. The budget excitingly allowed for the hiring of big names, which sells tickets, but doesn’t necessarily make an event stand out. So, the next task was then, of course, to find that thing that would make the ball special, something to distinguish it from the plethora of other events that are constantly occurring in St. Andrews. Then it hit them: a theme.
McNicol described, “one of the things that I did when I was looking around at planning is I looked at all the other balls and I thought what do they do that makes them unique and interesting and is it something really expensive or is it just a good idea?” After throwing around many different ideas the theme of dragons came up (as dragons are relevant to DRA/FP). This sparked the discussion of themes of whimsy, theatricality, fantasy, romance etc. The idea of using dragons didn’t seem to be panning out, so the committee thought about finding a theme that embodied similar characteristics.
“Something kind of classy and romantic that people could get excited about, what about a masquerade?” McNicol thought. It was perfect, something simple yet memorable. “That’s the kind of thing that you need,” he said, “is just having the idea to put out there, just the ingenuity”. This type of event had been done before, but no one had done it at quite the same magnitude space for years and making it the theme for the DRA/FP ball was putting it onto a much bigger scale.
Once they found the theme, it was time to role with it. Scott and his team invested a over a hundred hours into this ball to take it to a whole new level than previous years, and he’s really hoped that people appreciated and noticed it. And I can tell you right now their hard work showed and people were in awe.
Upon walking into the event, the walkway to the marquee was draped with a deep navy blue, black colored fabric and small lights scattered across it gave the illusion of a starry night. Not even having stepped foot into the main area of the event, and you already felt as though you were on a night out in Venice.
Then as you come into the main area, you were greeted by a sea of gondolas, white marble-esque statues, a bridge over a faux river, a dj stage, and if you were lucky enough to make it for the beginning of the event people dressed in costumes and others on stilts.
Scott and his team did an impeccable job of creating a totally immersive experience that stayed true to the theme, while also keeping the event young and relevant to a uni crowd. The music was loud, lights were flashing, and two long bars lined each side of the tent. The event perfectly blended the classy with the fun, youth with maturity. Not only did the coordinators of the event do a fantastic job of adhering to their chosen theme, but there were also a few extra surprises.
In the outdoor area sat a Blackhorn’s van for all of your late night cravings, and inside the tent, in the corner was an ice cream cart with free Jannetta’s ice creams (to say the queue was long would be an understatement).
All in all this event was one of the most well thought out and organized that I have been to this year, and certainly as memorable as Scott and his teamed hoped it would be.