Working at a May Ball is a great way to earn some quick money and gives an insight into what each May Ball is likeMichael Derringer

This time two years ago, when I was a wee fresher, I was naively anticipating which May Ball I would choose to go to. If I could speak to that younger me now, however, I would tell her that unfortunately choice doesn’t really come into it. Little did I know that in the scramble to get mitts on tickets, I would be lucky to go to anything at all. Unless you know people at other colleges, obtaining entry to the best balls can be nigh on impossible. Despite tickets going on general sale the reality is that they often sell out beforehand – that, or way too quickly for human capabilities of mouse-clicking. Since when was it so difficult to spend your money? Since you came to Cambridge, fresher.

With Queens Centenary Ball already controversially sold out before many college members have even got their mitts on a pair, and many more set to go on sale in the next couple of weeks, the May Ball marketplace is heating up. Sites like Which May Ball and May Week is Coming have all the latest news and ticket release dates, but in the meantime, here are some pearls of wisdom to employ in your P.O.A.

1. Make new friends.

Luckily, one of my good friends has no social inhibitions and a freakishly good memory for names and faces, so on weekly jaunts to Cindies she stumbles around greeting people she (barely) knows. This is how we managed to get tickets to St John’s Anniversary May Ball at the last minute during exam term, having finally resigned to the idea that maybe watching the fireworks from an empty street and hearing everyone else have fun wasn’t so bad after all... Put this in the context of the slick £1,600 spent to win the final golden tickets at a charity auction for the same ball that year, and you might just find yourself compelled to increase your social circle this term.

2. Plan a huge break in.

So you’ve finally muscled up the courage to ask your Cindies friend if they could get you a may ball ticket, and you hear nothing back. Fear not, we have a plan B – break in. Whether your new friend making has left you strapped for cash, you want to defy elitism, or simply for the thrill of it, gatecrashing could be the perfect solution. Success stories include sneaking into the workers room, climbing over gates or through the windows of a student’s room. The key is to be creative, and, er, don’t be yourself.

3. ‘I’m with the band’

Believe it or not, this has worked. Your best bet is to actually know one of the bands playing and go in with them – but sadly, for many of us, this isn’t an option. If you have ever fancied yourself as a DJ, this could be your time to shine! Last year two students managed to get into King’s Affair by sending in a mixtape and bagging themselves an early slot. This meant no one was actually around to hear their attempts at mixing and they could enjoy the rest of the evening for free. Alternatively, learn an instrument! You’ve always been meaning to anyway so why not start now?

4. Work

Working at a May Ball is a great way to earn some quick money (which will get spent even quicker no doubt) and gives you an insight into what each May Ball is like. Otherwise, you can choose to spend half the evening working and have the other half to enjoy the ball for free. So if you don’t manage to get the ticket you wanted, all is not lost. Applications are starting around now for lots of colleges.

5. Smaller Names on Campus

June Events are smaller, less expensive versions of a May Ball, with this year’s Trinity Hall, St. Cat’s and Wolfson events unlikely to sell out as quickly as the big hitters. It’s a perfect way to boost your May week timetable, offering a more informal way of winding down without skimping on the booze factor.

Michael Derringer

6. Join a security firm

Probably a last resort, but all you burly rugby players may be in with a chance. Get your hands on a walkie talkie and an ear piece off Ebay and with enough confidence you may be able to pull it off. Just an idea…

7. Put on your own May Ball 

An absolute last resort. All you need to do is gather your friends (the ones that also failed miserably to get tickets), get out the Moss Bros, and blast some music. A cheap bottle of cava wouldn’t go amiss either. Oh, and find yourself a huge 500 year old college and maybe kidnap The Feeling.

All in all: easy like (Suicide) Sunday morning. Right?