Hannah Shiblaq reviews EmpowHER's valentines celebration of female friendship.
On 11 February, the University’s EmpowerHER society hosted its annual Galentine’s Ball. Tickets went on sale 25 January and again 1 February, with non-member tickets slightly more expensive at the cost of £32. However, this premium was definitely worth it for the all-encompassing food and drinks perks, as well as the opportunity to celebrate the power of female friendship.
The ball was hosted at Lupo’s, a charming Italian restaurant and bar on North Street. The event began at 8.30pm and lasted into the early hours, although people flitted in and out throughout the duration of the night.
Prior to the ball itself, EmpowerHER hosted a Mini Market on 29 January at BrewCo. Here, people could buy, rent, or even swap clothing items from local clothing businesses such as Sustainable Style, Juno Claire, and Grmt in preparation for the night.
Indeed, the theme of “Pink, Red, and Glitter” allowed for a festive, fashionable, and aesthetically-pleasing backdrop to the event. The entire night was a blur of frilly, endearing hyperfemininity. From glitter-decorated cheekbones to pink strawberry-covered ball gowns, every guest remained committed to this theme.
Upon arrival, each guest was greeted with a personalised card signed by the event coordinators Evie Cullen and Elsa Doig. Every card had its own empowering statement, garnished with pen-drawn hearts. Mine preached “Believe in yourself & you will be unstoppable.” In addition to the hand-written sentiment, cards contained each guest’s voucher for their complementary cocktail, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
In the entrance room, guests were encouraged to leave their coats piled on the many chairs and couches of the rest area. Even in the jumble of fabric, there was something charming about the haphazardly strewn jackets, as if guests had eagerly filed into a massive slumber party. Additionally, this room also had a photo station. Complete with a ring light and various Valentines-themed accessories, this enclave was perfect for snapping Instagram pictures.
To the right of the bar, there was another cosy room fully furnished with every sweet treat imaginable: from pink-frosted sugar cookies, to rice crispy treats, to homemade fudge. If guests wanted a chance to sit, there were also plenty of tables. Each one was covered in stacks of UNO cards, body glitter, and love hearts, guaranteeing an eventful break from dancing if desired.
Left of the bar was the dance floor. Throughout the night, hits by Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, and many more female icons were heard singing through the venue. What’s more, these tunes had been chosen by the guests themselves, who had the option to drop song recommendations on EmpowerHER's Instagram story.
Beyond the dance floor there was an additional room housing the event’s many savoury nibbles: mini truffled goats cheese and honey tarts, baked red pepper and chive tarts, ricotta and sun blushed tomato arancinis, and caprese skewers. The food proved to be a big hit, given the overwhelming crowd surrounding the table of hors-d'œuvres.
The attendees of the Galentine’s Day Ball were majority, if not entirely, female-identifying. Whilst obviously anyone, regardless of sex, could buy a ticket, the hyperfemininity of the event definitely targeted the University’s female audience. Hardly any men found their way into the venue other than those helping with background logistics or security. I couldn’t help but feel that the exclusively female audience eased recurring anxieties that many girls have when going out. As a girl, there’s something about being in the company of other girls that feels simultaneously comforting and liberating.
Indeed, the night was full of unapologetic displays of girlhood: friends led each other to the dancefloor at the first chords to their favourite songs, spire-of-the-moment compliments floated their way from one girl to another, and strangers lit their phone torches to search for another’s missing earring. These moments of notoriously feminine comradery added to the night’s magic.
Valentine’s Day is traditionally centred around the love between two significant others, but at Galentine’s Ball, it was about the inherent love that women have for one another. Girls were allowed to be girls in all their glittery, sugary, flowery glory. EmpowerHER definitely remained true to their namesake: I’ve never seen so many girls at one event so empowered in their femininity.
Photos: Hannah Shiblaq