Last Saturday, FS returned for their annual Starfields blowout. In my mind, Starfields will forever be the Freshers’ Week Event. Students running down North Street in cowboy boots, Hawaiian shirts, and mini skirts; covered head to toe in body glitter, sweaty palms wrapped around half-empty bottles of unrecognisable concoctions: it’s always a sight to behold.
Heavy on marketing, FS’ publicity team spends each summer selling big names, flashy graphics, and the promise of a fun night. With tickets selling out in seconds every year, it is historically the last hurrah before the start of classes.
However, as hard as we might try, St Andrews has yet to prove itself wholly capable of hosting daytime parties. Starfields was no different. Despite the ticket stating that doors closed at 10 p.m. and direct messages posted to FS’ Instagram account saying that the last entry was at 7:30 p.m., at around 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of the event the same account posted a last-minute notice telling students that the last entry was 6:00 p.m. While this was undoubtedly confusing, the bigger problem was that by 6:30 p.m. Lower College Lawn was filled to capacity - but the majority of attendees were simply sitting around and chatting.
Typically, in a situation where there’s plenty of space to spread out, a full night ahead, sun, and friendly faces around, the reflex for the majority of St Andrews students would be to head for the bar. However, FS unfortunately proved themselves incapable of handling the volume of attendees. With long queues to get into the event itself followed by waits at the bar for upwards of 45 minutes, most people found themselves sobering up throughout the evening and spending more time in the crowds of the bar than the crowds of the dance floor: all for one overpriced drink. Multiple bars or a later start time could have helped to alleviate this problem.
The setup was similar to previous years, with a large architectural semi-enclosed tent housing a dance floor on one side, a large square bar in the centre, and a row of St Andrews’ finest eateries - including the likes of Saints Sizzle and the Crepe place - along the back. Along the edge of the lawn was an aptly-placed smoking area, toilets, and the iconic FS light shining against the side of one of the university’s oldest buildings.
It wasn’t until the sun started to set around 8:00 p.m. that the promise of high-energy house tracks played by some of the world’s most prominent DJs, a colourful and creative atmosphere, and a fun night out worth the £40+ paid-for tickets, was met successfully and the party really started.
Starting off the evening was S!LK, a renowned DJ who’s worked with the likes of Drake, J Cole, and Rick Ross. S!LK is known for his ‘deep in the soul but tech and groovy’ house music style, and the enthusiasm with which students were bopping along made their appreciation clear. Their set was followed by COEO, who brought double the funk and double the fun. A German duo with over 700,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, COEO added some groove to the evening with their blend of house and disco music. The music of the event was consistently upbeat and energetic, begging students to work their way deeper into the tent to join the tentative crowds of dancers already on the floor. During the last act of the night, Barry Can’t Swim, the dance floor exploded. Barry was voted one of Billboards ‘10 Dance Artists to Watch in 2022’ and if that doesn’t convince you, he’s garnered over 11 million Spotify listens. House music can struggle with being repetitive, but Barry’s blend of club sounds with afrobeat productions and jazz added a unique element that kept the floor full and the people happy.
As the sun set, more and more people began to join the truly committed on the dance floor, dancing along to pulsing beats, colourful lights, and confetti. It’s moments like these when you can truly feel the community of St Andrews coming together. When everyone in the crowd somehow finds themselves jumping up and down in sync, smiling, screaming, and generally having the time of their lives.
Whilst it is important for our community to come together and have a good time, FS’ status as a charity fundraiser must not be overlooked. Whilst £40+ for a ticket is undoubtedly steep, this year's proceeds were in support of Genetic Alliance UK, an organisation that provides information and support to families of patients with genetic conditions. Whilst it’s yet to be announced how much money Starfields has actually raised for Genetic Alliance UK, their formal and public commitment to a specific charity is already an improvement from last year.
Ultimately, after pulling off an impressive recovery last year, the bar was set high for this year's event. Whilst not the most mind-blowing or original, it was certainly a fun time with old and new friends, bringing together the community to celebrate the new academic year and this lovely little town that we call home.
Photo: Ilaria Freccia