Extravagant decor, live bands, and reasonably priced tickets made Grad Ball 2019 the bee's knees.
This year’s Grad Ball was decided by student vote – ‘Your event. Your choice’. For 60% of us, that choice was for a themed ball, with slightly cheaper tickets than the alternative celebrity DJ or stand-up comedian. This vote for a themed ball was then narrowed down to three choices – ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’, ‘Moulin Rouge Masquerade’, or ‘Great Gatsby’ – and half of us, the majority, voted for the golden flapper flair of the 1920s (though we did spot some left-over seashells dotted around on the night). Maybe it was a consequence of giving us so much say in the decision-making process, but the event was so popular that tickets sold out – fast – with desperate graduates asking for tickets even on the day, and spurring some people to sell (and, presumably, buy) their tickets for upwards of £100 on eBay. Could it be possible that Grad Ball 2019 was worth the hype?
The choice of the ‘Great Gatsby’ theme was, I think, the right one – though, as a literature student, I might be biased. Graduates who committed to the theme had the chance to cover themselves in sequins and feathers, and those that didn’t were still able to admire the decor. The Bridge was transformed into a speakeasy, with a live band and flapper dancers, busy and loud and full of energy (and alcohol). The Cafe had become The Gatsby Kitchen, with themed burgers and chips, leading through to a casino, with another live band, while Bar Three offered golden sofas to rest your aching feet. The concourse was carpeted with artificial grass, with a fairy-like fountain in the centre, and bloomed with blossom trees that spread onto the redbrick, which shone with fairy-lights and all ‘the whisperings and the champagne and the stars’ of a true Gatsby party – though perhaps with more vodka and cokes than champagne. As well as creating an exciting atmosphere, such wonderful decor offered plenty of more unique photo opportunities to add to the glowing ‘Grad Ball’ and ‘2019’ displays that will inevitably be flooding your Instagram feed.
Hidden amongst the live ragtime and jazz bands were flashes of more modern music. The redbrick was home to the Silent Disco Under The Stars, complete with strobe lights and smoke machines, where flapper-graduates jived to remixes of Mika and Rihanna, while the Cube stood outside of the theme completely, hosting house acts such as Nathan Dawe, Adrian Murphy and, finally, Sub Focus. The performances, especially from the latter two acts, were electric, combining glorious sounds with an energetic vibe to create the perfect Oceana-esque dancefloor. Sub Focus proved to be worth the hype, performing some truly memorable tracks and keeping the vibe in the Cube throbbing and ecstatic. That said, it was pretty disgusting to have the floor flooded by drinks as early as 12 a.m., but it’s hard to fault the organisers for this, and after all, hygiene has never stopped Jesters from achieving landslide success.
Unsurprisingly for a sold-out event, however, it was packed. Much of the decor was hidden by the crowds or queues for photos, while staircases were more like broken escalators, forcing us to ‘beat on, boats against the current’ of a drunk, sweaty crowd for ten minutes while trying to figure out where the rest of our friends had disappeared to. Though the commitment to the theme was admirable, Grad Ball couldn’t avoid being what every Ball is: in the words of our editor, ‘aimlessly wandering around looking for people’, though at least this time we could get lost surrounded by golden confetti and lava lamps.
Overall, though, SUSU’s decision to let us decide truly paid off – the decor was enchanting, the variety of music meant there was something for everyone, and on top of that the tickets were reasonably priced. Most importantly, though, Grad Ball 2019 felt like our Grad Ball, giving us the opportunity to celebrate our university experience with style.
Check out the highlights of Grad Ball 2019 below: