The iconic firework display at St John's best represents the energy and lavishness of the nightSt John's May Ball Committee

Dubbed the 7th best party in the world, my expectations were certainly high as I approached the start of the queue for the 2017 St John’s May Ball. The entrance queue, though long and winding through the college grounds, only built anticipation for entry itself and delivered us into the event shortly after 9pm.

A champagne reception upon arrival foregrounded a multitude of cocktails and drink selections from candyfloss and dry ice to VKs served in overflowing punts. Whilst any cocktail you could imagine was served (including a particularly delicious lychee one) real ales and a vodka luge catered to most tastes. The ready supply of drinks kept guests partying into the morning with the atmosphere in every court a buzz with laughter and music.

"The much anticipated theme, Tempus Fugit (Time Flies), was a classy and sensible choice on the committee’s part..."

Whilst I was unfamiliar with the initial headliner Sigala and his substitute Blonde, the crowds around the mainstage during Jigsaw and Blonde’s sets were thronging and it seemed the majority of guests thoroughly enjoyed the festival vibes of New Court. However, my greatest praise for the Ents Officers was their attention to providing a wide variety of entertainment meaning everyone could dance the night away be it to the lilting tones of Zak Abel, or the classic mash-ups of Dysfunktional in the Roaring 20s themed Second Court. Not to mention the dance, comedy, magic, poetry, and rave tent!

The much anticipated theme, Tempus Fugit (Time Flies), was a classy and sensible choice on the committee’s part as it allowed for the stunning decoration of the various courts in different periods of time – there was no need to choose between a Grecian paradise or The Great Gatsby: the guests were able to revel in both, and more. Some courts fulfilled their theme better than others, with the fresh flowers and hippy decorations over the Bridge of Sighs a stand out in 60s themed ‘Good Vibrations’ New Court.

Professional production and lighting were impressive, but the care and attention that had gone into some of the smaller scene aspects were also clear, such as the table centres and lights across the bridge. The impressive installation of not only a wine fountain but also a large centrepiece Grecian fountain in Chapel Court underpinned the theme and provided excellent photo opportunities. 

Not only did the event look incredible, but the sheer diversity of food on offer both from external vendors and in college catering was staggering, so wide that even a self-professed foodie would have been hard pressed to try it all. Despite some queuing, Anna Mae’s mac ’n’ cheese was by far the most delicious I was able to sample, closely followed by Jack’s Gelato. Unfortunately, significant queues and high demand for popular Aromi left myself and many others arancini-less. The food was excellent and the Pol Roger champagne was arguably worth the extra money alone. My only bugbear was the lack of toilet roll in the ladies used for Breakfast guests which could have been quickly re-filled before we came into dine.

Aside from this my criticism is sparse, some logistical issues concerning the survivors photo and cloakroom collection caused some disquiet amongst tired and drunken 6am revellers, but perhaps this is a challenge for next year’s committee.

The stand out moment of the night was by far the fireworks and laser show that (I’m reliably informed by Johnians) outdid Trinity’s display the night before. The awesome display of colour timed to music (perfectly on theme) was followed by laser show reflecting the 'Backs to the Future’ theme of the backs area. 

All in all a wonderful night. St John's definitely lived up to its expectation of being dubbed one of the most lavish affairs in the world, from the fireworks to the free-flowing drinks, it was an ostentatious, grand, and mesmerising night