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Review: Welly Ball Afterparty

The iconic charity fundraiser saw students from across the UK flock into town for a night of revelry; once again renewing the ball's reputation as a true St Andrews classic.

Saturday night witnessed the return of one of St Andrews’ best-renowned events, Welly Ball. For the fifteenth year running, Scotland’s largest (and most comfortable) black-tie dinner and afterparty took place. Truly one of the most iconic events of the academic year - what screams St Andrews more than a raucous night of drinking and dancing in your finery and a pair of wellies? - tickets once again sold out in seconds, and upwards of 2,000 students from across the UK flocked to Falside Mill this weekend in order to witness for themselves how a tiny town on the Fife Coast is possibly able to host such a legendary event.

With this stellar reputation to uphold, the Welly Ball committee must feel a sense of pressure to meet what has come before them. Ultimately, they did so with professionalism and a huge sense of fun, providing students with a wonderful excuse to dress up and dance the night away.

From 9.30pm, floods of afterparty attendees arrived at Falside Mill to meet the ball’s dinner guests under a sea of twinkling golden lights. The rustic converted steading was elegantly dressed by the ball’s committee, with these lights extending throughout the entryway, across the first dancefloor, and into the large marquee which housed the second.

These two dancefloors were consistently packed throughout the evening and into the early hours of the morning, and spirits were high as guests - fuelled by the killer combination of prosecco and tequila - tore them up. The DJ sets - provided by Tim Berger, Walker, Corran, Harry Vyv-Rob, and Ashton Squires - were right on the money. With the marquee providing a soundtrack of more lowkey beats; the main dancefloor supplied what can only be described as back-to-back bangers, the kind of classic tunes that you run back to the dancefloor for.

Aside from the obvious unique selling point that is the ball’s dress code, the genre of fun had by attendees was comparable to that of a really good classic club night out. This is no criticism. Rather, guests were provided with exactly what they were promised - an opportunity to dress up and dance to Taylor Swift, the Killers, Jason Derulo and Pitbull, all in the name of charity. What more could you ask for?

The logistics of organising the movement of 2,000 up and down the Fife coastal path in one evening must absolutely be a nightmare. However, the problem of managing bus queues continues to plague these large-scale events. An apparently tiny detail, it is something which truly has the power to overshadow an otherwise seamless evening and will frequently be the detail that attendees continue to point to in the coming days. At 2am - once the music faded away and the lights came up on the dancefloor - guests flocked their way outside to the buses en masse, where, unfortunately, what ensued was a long, cold, confusing, and at times quite scary fight to get onto the buses back to St Andrews.

However, in all other respects it must be noted that the management of the sheer volume of attendees at the event is no easy task, and was otherwise impressively carried out. The provision of several well-stocked bars eased the pressure considerably and ensured that people did not waste too much of their precious dancing time queuing for drinks, the additional bathrooms provided outside were never overcrowded, and the venue’s large rooms easily accommodated space for thousands of grooving students. Food stalls - crepes, burgers, and chips - were readily available for those who managed to work up an appetite. The coat check system was apparently slightly overburdened, however it is important to note that all proceeds from the cloakroom went to the Charities Campaign: another example of Welly’s steadfast commitment to fundraising.

Indeed, the Welly Ball is first and foremost a charity fundraiser. Their partnership with the Charlie Waller Trust - a charity which works to provide support to young people with mental health problems and reduce the associated stigmas - is now nine years strong, and the £30,000 which last year’s ball raised will likely be matched once again.

“We are proud to support a cause that directly affects many school and university students”, Marisa Singh, Welly’s Head of Charity and Community, told The Saint.

“It is also Charlie Waller’s 25th anniversary this year, and Welly Ball is honoured to be commemorating this milestone with them. We hope to continue the conversation around mental health for years to come!”

The eerie quietness of town’s streets on Sunday morning was testament to the great night that was had by the university’s students this weekend, and all the evidence you need to be able to state that Welly has once again renewed its reputation as a true St Andrews classic.

Photo: Maggie Zhu

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