Freshers’ Week Returns: A Review

Freshers Week returned in force this year. Students arriving in town were treated to events that some thought would become a distant memory. As we recover from the late nights, loud music and crowded rooms it is time to look back on the be- ginning of the semester. The three key events of the week were BPM, Welly Launch and Starfields Sessions. Our event-experienced editors attended all three to give a full review.

BPM This year’s Freshers’ Week was graced by not one, but two BPM events. The first of these, held at the Vic, was extremely well attended, students no doubt ecstatic for the return of something like a club night in St Andrews. BPM is a music collective that was established in West London and puts on events around the country, allowing the musically creative the chance to play their own music at venues like the Vic. Arrivals, the name of the event, and a reference to the multitude of students from around the globe driving and flying into our small Scottish town did not disappoint. Perhaps it was the feeling of heavy bass pulsing through the Vic’s floors, or maybe the relief of cold air in the smoking area after bopping beneath the projected animation that hung above the dancefloor, but this felt like a welcome return to normality. The music was typical of a BPM event: a high-energy cocktail of Hip Hop, RnB, Grime and Afrobeat. The DJs didn’t tire, technically they were superb, and they dealt with my inappropriate drunken song requests with grace and humour that I certainly did not deserve. Being set up in a booth in the middle of the Vic’s cosy dining area gave Arrivals a house-party personal feel, meaning that to chat with (shout at) them was surprisingly easy among the throng. Around them students raved, and all seemed glad of the op- portunity not only to dance and get close with each other, but also to let their hair down and have fun before Freshers’ Week reached its endurance stages. The bar performed admirably too, serving the queues quickly and good-naturedly ‒ mostly, it must be said, with swiftly-taken shots. All the while the typically-BPM anthems rang in the ears, intensely but welcomingly. This was no Bop, no Olivia Rodrigo or early Justin Bieber sing- along. Nobody present expected it to be, and by pushing into the unavoidable heat of the packed out dance floor was to recognise that the event was a happy departure from 601, and an arrival at sweaty, drunken anonymity, only broken by the refreshing cool of the smoky outdoors. Inside, an edgy graphic morphed and unmorphed above us all, fuzzing in and out. The strobes kept the room largely in the dark, and it was difficult to pick out friends. Green and red was the lighting theme, in imitation of traffic lights and cat’s eyes on city roads in the rainy dark. But it was very hot, as any club night worth its salt should be, and later in the night the dance- floor rose and fell in unison to strong Garage beat drops, dripping. The success of any music-orien-tated event is always measured in the tightness of the dancefloor and the volume of the smokers’ area. I am happy to report that, at Arrivals, both were full to bursting.

Welly Launch

One of the most eagerly anticipat- ed events of the first semester season is Welly Ball, and thus people came out in hordes to celebrate its launch event at Lupo’s Italiano on North Street. Lupo’s being a newer venue, I was originally unsure as to which type of event I would be walking into. The newness of it, however, only provid- ed an exhilarating air of exclusivity, as one had to pass through three check- points and receive both a hand stamp and a sticker before ascending the staircase into the main set of rooms. On the far wall, a projector showed a montage of well-dressed people hav- ing fun in their rain boots and the date of the main event—November sixth, 2021—providing visual entertain- ment while people queued for their drinks. Despite the two bar set up which was a bit confusing to everyone, the high-end variety of cocktails, wines, and beers offered proved a success with attendees, especially as the in- door venue steamed up quite quickly once the dancing started. The middle of the three main rooms served as the dance floor, with the DJ booth in one corner, and a small booth—a perfect place for people-watching—tucked into the wall on the other. People soon flooded into the space from the bar, greeting each other enthusiastically as people who have not seen each other for three months do. Surrounded by a plethora of scarves as tops, puff sleeves, claw clips, bucket hats, two-piece satin sets, and a suit with a bow tie—all with Welly launch stickers stuck ininteresting places, I only spotted four pairs of wellies. One hopes that there might be a better showing at the ac- tual ball, but it is understandable that in such a space on that evening, one would wish for as little leg cov- erage as possible. As one attendee remarked from the ladies toilet while perched by the opened window, “it just gets hotter in there.” This was probably due to the crowdedness of the dance floor and the excellent music selection. There was truly something for everyone. Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’, a favourite asalways, struck a chord of nostalgia in the crowd that herded even the shyest of guests into the throngs of the dance floor. One attendee who was overheard remarking, “I’m way too old for this,” in reference to the crowds, was still spotted tearing it up hours later. A testimony that one can truly never be ‘too old’ for Bastille. Navy blue business cards scat- tered everywhere reminded guests that the main attraction—the Welly Ball itself—is still to come, and, judg- ing by the launch party, it is sure to be a fun time, though hopefully, we’ll all see a few more pairs of wellies. The event was a perfect sample of the main event later in the semester. Wellies are iconically St Andrews and the return of Welly Ball is a shin- ning light after an event-less year.

Starfields Sessions

Starfields is often the highlight of freshers week or at least the larg- est event. The music festival allows students to get outside and enjoy the last of St Andrews’ summer with in- ternationally recognised musicians, wildly popular food trucks and icon- ic St Andrews fashion. As the first event of the year organised by the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show (FS), the weekend of events gives a taster of FS events to new students. The outdoor venue change this year was greeted with enthusiasm. Unlike Lower College Lawn, the ven- ue of previous years, North Haugh offered more room to spread out. This added to the classic festival environ- ment that the Starfields committee was undoubtedly aiming for. While the weather was not necessarily the pouring rain or blazing sun of many other UK festivals, the excitement of the crowds added warmth to a pre- dictably overcast day. The crowds were even more excited when the hotly anticipated musical performances began. Riton returned for the Friday session. The energy of that crowd was unmatched even by the union stampede of Week One. While the announcement that John Summit would be headlining the Saturday session caused a rush to purchase re-sold tickets. The tickets for starfields were ar- guably the hottest commodity during Freshers Week. As the largest event and only outdoor festival of the year, tickets sold quickly and were difficult to purchase when resold. The logisti- cal aspect of tickets was intensified by the new Starfields Sessions structure.

This year’s structure provided a different experience for freshers and upperclassmen alike. The three star- fields sessions mimicked larger fes- tivals spread across multiple days.Dividing the festival allowed the committee to host similar numbers to previous years while following covid regulations. While this was un- doubtedly an inventive workaround, it was not ideal for everyone. Part of the joy in St Andrews events is gath- ering our small community together. The process of coordinating choos- ing the same session as your friends removed part of the experience of bringing everyone together at the end of Freshers Week. Fashion has always been an im- portant part of St Andrews events. Starfields was no different. Being run by the FS committee makes Starfields the first opportunity for people to show of their fashion flares. This was also one of the first events after lock- down for people to dust off their festi- val coutfits and let loose. The fashion, music, food and people were a perfect combination However, once you arrived and threw yourself into enjoying the event, it was certainly a day you hope to never forget. Freshers Week was memorable for many people this year. Its purpose is, to bring people together, to make new memories and enjoy the beginning of the semester. BPM, Welly Launch, and Starfields were by far the high- lights of the week. These three events encompass a variety of musical tastes, venues, and vibes. The committees did a wonderful job starting off the se- mester with unique and unforgettable events.

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