Shaken, not stirredAlina Khakoo and Kitty Grady

Stepping into the set of Matty, President of Peterhouse May Ball, is a leap out of the Cambridge grind. Less student digs and more Brooklyn studio apartment, everything is meticulously yet effortlessly curated within this 1920s, wood-panelled room. The smell of lavender wafts down the low-lit hallway alongside what he later tells us is a ‘cannabis extract candle’. Meanwhile, ambient electronic music hums from a record player.

As people elsewhere in the town queue up for Sunday night Life, Matty greets us with an air of ease and good humour. Dressed in leather trousers and a crisp white shirt, he offers us a drink which he has oaked himself: an experiment for the upcoming May Ball.

He changes the record over as we settle into his eclectic array of chairs, and we begin to quiz him on his impressive furniture collection. "Emmaus, a homeless charity warehouse, has treasures to find if you look hard enough. My room is full of stuff I like and enjoy from there."

Minimalist architecture and a duck-egg typewriterAlina Khakoo and Kitty Grady

In keeping with the minimalist architecture, Matty has kept things simple apart from a few trinkets including a duck-egg typewriter and a skull-cum-flower pot. One thing that stands out is a print of Matisse’s ‘The Snail’ which hangs above the mantelpiece. "It was my first pretentious buy", he confesses. Indeed, Matty’s conversation is peppered with self-deprecation such as this. "I’m going to sound like such a cunt, aren’t I?" he says with an infectious peal of laughter.

Pretentious or not, we can’t deny that he has impeccable taste and he assures us that the May Ball will carry the same aesthetic. "Instead of coming up with a buzzword like 'Journey Through the Body' and trying to get everything to fit with that, we’ve tried to come up with something more natural." The ball is themeless, inspired by images and concepts such as Surrealism that appeal to the personal taste of the scene team. The lack of theme also allows them to fill the spaces of the College in a natural way, including its two old courts and deer park.

He intends to tie these areas of the ball together "with an overall sense of elegance, to give the guest a sense of pared-down luxury and enjoyment." Above all, Matty wants the ball to be comfortable and welcoming, for people to have a good time in the way they would like to enjoy themselves. He wants the Ball to transform as guests transform, to be reflective of their desires and tastes. "If you’re into midnight waltzes, ceilidh, there’s a place for you, if you like to dance with the sun coming up, great, there’s an area for you." He stresses inclusivity and lack of conformity to a prescribed notion of ‘fun’.

"Pretentious or not, we can’t deny that he has impeccable taste"Alina Khakoo and Kitty Grady

A fourth-year engineer, Matty has certainly had enough experience to know the May Ball dos and don’ts. He slates balls that "constantly try and remind you to justify the ticket price, so you’re almost a person going through a May Ball just doing what the committee want you to do". He holds no prisoners, describing Trinity May Ball as "a hollow experience once the sheen wears off. 3 - 6am should be prime ball hours, not just a wait for the survivor’s photo’. More light-heartedly, he tells us, "I remember queuing for three hours at the Union Garden Party for one of those fucking ostrich burgers. And I was so hungry, I had to leave, go to McDonalds and get some nuggets."

Highlights, however, include dancing while the sun came up at King’s Affair, a Ball which "descends into its own natural rhythm so it just feels like you’re having a great time" and crashing Robinson May Ball by proclaiming, "I’m in Clean Bandit, darling. My crowd needs me". Outside of May Week, Matty has attended a 24-hour party in a Budapest manor house, where he was struck by the "warmth and intimacy of the atmosphere. We also get the sense that he has played host to many a successful party, with his state-of-the-art speakers and an alcohol cabinet extensive enough to make Gatsby envious.  

"I’m going to sound like such a cunt, aren’t I?" he says with an infectious peal of laughterAlina Khakoo and Kitty Grady

The task of making Matty’s dreams a reality on the night will not be easy, but he accepts this challenge with good grace. "We are lucky as people don’t know much about Peterhouse, and the May Ball is the one chance to show off the talent we have here." He is keen to build a reputation for Peterhouse away from the excess and over-indulgence of the May Ball tradition. Taking place every three years, the ball is a rare event which promises to be something special.