Jesus May Ball - Review
Alice Udale-Smith finds that Jesus May Ball lives up to its claims to provide a world of revelry.
'Revelry: A World of Festivals' was the extravagant theme for this year's Jesus May Ball. Such a bold claim for the standard of events was practically inviting its guests to be disappointed. However, this was one ball that managed to live up to the hype it generated beforehand. A night of truly excellent entertainment was laid on for all attending.The biggest success of the ball had to be its use of space and its ability to provide so much to see, do, eat, drink and laugh at that the possibility of getting bored was unthinkable.
Splitting the grounds into different sections, each corresponding to a different festival, meant there was something for everyone. The Christmas court with its classical music, gorgeous snow effects, champagne, and mince pies provided the perfect location for those who preferred a little more sophistication. The Mayday area, on the other hand, proved an instant energetic hit, with its arcade full of dance mats, scaletrix and Helter Skelter - for anybody brave enough to scale its heights in a ball dress.
There were many other things I missed: everybody I spoke to seemed to have come away with wildly different experiences of the ball. I was told there was a casino somewhere but, distracted by everything else around me, I never actually made it there. Jesus’s ability to cater to the tastes of many different people simultaneously also minimised queues - except at the main stage - so that once inside the ball an intimate feel was maintained despite the size of the venue.
I found Rizzle Kicks on the main stage slightly underwhelming, having seen them perform before and therefore no longer surprised by the quirks of their set. Regardless, they were good harmless fun, even if - as one of them announced half way through when getting us all to shout back at him - “this is crowd pleasing 101”. The tent seemed too small for the number of people who wanted to hear them, though, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving from some particularly irritating people. Anybody who managed to survive without being trod on at least once must have been a miracle worker.
I much preferred Russell Kane as comedy headliner, who was a perfect match for the event and had the crowd at the comedy stage howling with laughter. This tent had also been sensibly left open at the back to allow for standing room. He offered a fairly standard selection of his material, with only a few jokes about posh people (which always go down well at balls, when we’re feeling our most Cambridge and slightly ridiculous in all our finery). He therefore avoided the failing of some other comics I’ve seen in Cambridge who, by talking about Cambridge the whole time, become unbearably tedious as they fail to say anything that hasn’t been said a hundred times before.
My personal highlight from the event was the food. Even by the Monday I was beginning to tire of the standard burgers-and-ice-cream fare that dominates May Week. The massive array of choice prevented this from being a problem, however, with choices from paella, a cheese tent, noodles, pizza, curry and the normal burgers and bacon buttys - all of a heavenly quality. Being handed champagne and fajitas on entry to the ball was also a nice touch and solved the problem of large queues at the food stalls as soon as you entered.
There were of course the standard minor hiccoughs faced by any ball: the queues for the toilets were long, the silent disco only had one channel, the chocolate fountain was only there for the first part of the night, and around 3am everybody got cold as the alcohol began to wear off. But none of these things hindered the guests’ overall enjoyment of the ball, which was immaculately thought out and spectacularly pulled off by the committee. Overall it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had in Cambridge and I thoroughly enjoyed it.