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Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir and Madame, As an avid reader of the Saint, I really enjoyed your Devil’s Advocate section on Balls at St Andrews; however, there are two things you alluded to that I think deserve more attention. The first, is the price. While I wholeheartedly agree, that for what you get at most balls the tickets are overpriced, the sad truth is that from an economic standpoint they are underpriced. If they were priced higher, less people would be willing to pay, meaning that tickets wouldn’t sell out so quickly and that while you and your friends might not be able to afford as many balls, when you do decide to go, your whole friend group might be able to buy tickets. Therefore the quantity of balls you attend might go down, but the quality of the time you have at each ball might go up. Another thing higher ball prices would do, would be to squeeze the sleaze-bags out of the market, yes I’m referring to those leaches that, with no intention of ever going to the ball, buy a ticket and then sell it for mul- tiples of what it’s really worth to the innocent friend who just wants to join her friends on “the biggest night of the year”. If ball prices were higher, the committees running these balls could rip everyone off instead of giving scalpers the privilege. While I say this in jest and don’t actually advocate higher ball prices, at least in this case the higher costs would go towards the Charities the events support, and not some some slimy kids pocket. My second point is in response to Olivia’s about how, “Modernity, and house music, make a mockery of fairy tale expectations.” I think you are spot on. In this respect I think St Andrews’ Black Tie events are off the ball (pun intended). Whenever I tell friends back home about St Andrews Balls, they get a little starry eyed. While in days gone by this might of brought up fond reminisces of Jane Austen or War & Peace, it’s not too much of a tragedy that they think of Bridgerton. After all at least in Bridgerton, there is reason to swoon. But it never ceases to draw a disappointed, “oh”, from my friends when I relate to them the truth, the truth that the balls, despite the tuxes and gowns, are seldom any less awkward, boring, and disappointing than middle school dances were. A St Andrews ball wouldn’t be complete with- out “the lads” moshpitting in front of a DJ, who is feeling himself way more the the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd would normally warrant. The only thing that makes these balls slightly better than middle school, is that no teacher is going to send you to a disciplinary hearing for drinking. If it weren’t for the outfits and friends, the balls would be seen for what they are, just look at how, “meh”, Star- fields was, especially the abysmally under attended daytime sessions. In my time at St Andrews there have been three balls that fought against this tyranny of boredom and disenchantment. The Aberdeen Polo Ball, The Other Ball, and Black Tie Reeling Ball. The revolutionaries in this fight, weren’t really all that revolutionary, in fact, the hosts of these balls made them exciting and enchanting, not by doing anything new, but by doing something old. Live bands and dancing. As an, unacquainted American with two left feet, I was shocked at how exciting a Ceilidh could be at The Polo Ball. What a concept, looking the person you’re dancing with in the eyes, them know- ing it’s your turn to dance as you’re prepare to skate down the ballroom and back to the tune of the Virginia Reel. The lights are on and you can actually see them smile as you skate back into place in the line of dancers. The beauty of a Ceilidh is that you don’t need to know how to Ceilidh to dance a Ceilidh. Whenever, there is a Ceilidh, there is someone called a caller, who walks you through the dance before the music starts, but also calls out the various moves as they happen in the dance. This means that with a Ceilidh, you get all the fairy- tale glamour and romance of dancing with a partner, without any of the dreariness of taking dancing classes. For those of you who actually like practicing, don’t want a caller spoiling the mood, and want to meet a Prince, The semesterly Reeling Balls, hosted by Caledonian Society, might be the ticket. While, “You probably won’t meet your prince at Kinkell Byre”, you might at Fingask Castle, as Princess Margaret’s grandson and others, have been known to show face. Complete with Dancing Cards, 4 plus hours of spinning and being spun around, and a full Scottish Breakfast served at 2am, this is a fairytale in its truest form. While you have to apply in groups (Sets) of equal number guys and girls and practice once a week leading up to the ball, this is a benefit for two reasons. In a school that’s 70% female, it means that no one will be left unpicked, for a dance, on the sidelines, and it also means that for one evening a week, you can come together with your Reeling Set at one of your flats, practice, have a potluck dinner, and grow closer as a friend group, so that when the ball comes around you don’t have to worry that your friends won’t get a ticket, or that your friends are fake and will ditch you, or because it’s in a castle and all the buses leave at once, that your friends left early, without you. We need to demand more from those groups hosting house-parties and nightclubs, dressed up as balls. For those that want clubbing, there is always the Vic or 601, but for those of us who actually want a ball, give us a ball. House and Trap music is for boys and these balls are by boys. Why do we let, “the lads” tyrannise us with house music that no one knows. St Andrews is 70% female, I can’t speak as a girl, but I can’t imagine watching the boys moshpit (or worse getting elbowed by them) or having them come up and grind on you without your consent is what you dreamed about when you first heard that St Andrews had Balls. Girls are the majority at the school and you all have the power to pressure more balls into having Ceilidhs; booking more romantic, and less muddy venues, like Lower College Hall (not lawn); hosting events where you all can find gentlemen and prince-charming, not boys; and taking those moments of junior-prom disenchantment and banishing them to the past. There comes a time in every persons life, where they become old enough to once again enjoy fairytales, for us that time is now. Jay Spoehel Master of Arts Economics

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