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Mermaids Provide the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Christmas Ball

Hannah Shiblaq reviews the Polar Express themed Christmas Ball.

On 27 November, Mermaids (the University’s Performing Arts Fund) hosted their annual Christmas Ball, a welcome celebration of the start of the holiday season. After three highly-competitive and stress-inducing ticket release dates in early November, Christmas Ball quickly sold out and more, leaving a lengthy waitlist of those unlucky enough to miss out on tickets still eager to attend.

The event was hosted at Kinkell Byre, a charming site just under ten minutes from St Andrews. Mermaids provided buses to the venue from the Union, beginning at 7:45 and ending at 11:00.

Upon entry, Kinkell Byre was the pinnacle of Christmas cheer, complete with a web of lights hanging from the ceiling, dangling Christmas tree boughs, paper snowflakes, and other decorations to match this year’s theme of the Polar Express. The ambiance was exponentially bright and cheerful, compared to the more ominous darkness of a traditional night out in the club recreated by some of the other balls.

The main ballroom consisted of the stage in front of the central dance floor, two surrounding bars, and large tables for taking breaks between songs. The bars were cash only, though this fact was communicated thoroughly upon ticket pickup the day before. Cocktails all cost 5.50 and mocktails 3.50, relatively reasonable prices compared to some of the other bars in town. The Mermaids committee also graciously provided a glass of prosecco to all attendees upon entry, an elegant touch which ensured that everyone started the night on a festive high.

Another nice altruistic touch I noted upon entry was the “Charity Coatcheck”. All proceeds from the cloakroom went directly to three different charities: Families First, Médecins Sans Frontiers, and Bloody Good Period. This was perfectly in the spirit of the charitable holiday season!

Christmas Ball also had a number of gustatory treats. Inside, La Crêperie - a student-run company - provided free crepes to event goers, only charging for additional toppings beyond the complimentary nutella, cinnamon sugar, and lemon sugar flavours. Outside, Bonnie Burrito and student-favourite Shawarma House sold their staple delicacies to guests. For those in the mood for a festive non-alcoholic drink, Christmas Ball also had tanks of hot apple cider available.

Beyond the main ballroom, there was a lot more to see if you desired a change of scenery. Down a lit hallway, guests were led into a large room with red carpeting and lights adorning the black tented ceiling. Large circular tables filled the venue, as well as the pièce de résistance, a fully decorated Christmas Tree. Compared to the louder main ballroom, this alternate, beautifully furnished room provided a quiet escape from the dance floor and an opportunity to take some festive pictures.

Additionally, in this room two excellent acapella groups performed, providing entertainment and a festive soundtrack for the groups snapping pictures around the Christmas tree. First up was the Hummingbirds, who performed from 9:15 to 9:30, followed by the all-female group the Accidentals. Quietly secluded from the wired amplification of the main ballroom stage, this made for a more intimate musical experience secluded from the rest.

The main stage also provided an interesting array of entertainment for the night. The event began with St Andrews-based student band The Collective, who performed a number of 70s rock hits as well as classic holiday songs, and donned the stage between 8:00 and 10:00. Following, the energy shifted more towards dance music and beat mixing, with DJ Becka Clark between 10:00 and 12:00 and DJ Rory MacLean from 12:00 to 1:45. Mixed between hit dancing anthems, both DJs managed to weave some holiday songs in there, too, from Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ to the iconic Mariah Carey anthem ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’.

While the cost to attend this event was slightly steep compared to others, in my opinion, the venue, decoration, entertainment, and food and drink options justified the price. Unlike other events, Christmas Ball has a level of decorum and class exclusive to holiday season festivities. If you missed out this year, definitely try to snag tickets for next year’s Christmas Ball. It’s guaranteed to be a night you won’t forget, full of festive music, decorations, and enough holiday spirit to carry you through the grey days of exam season.

Photos: Louise Anderbjork

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