Hilton & Hennessey, before their hangoversEmily Lawson-Todd & Cantab 12 / Wikimedia Commons

With the end of Easter Term comes every tabloid photographer’s wet dream – May Balls. After a term of slaving away over essays, example sheets, and existential crises, Cambridge students are treated to a night of pure hedonism. Or, at least, this is how the Balls are advertised. In reality, instead of the advertised reverie, disorderly conduct, and masquerades, May Balls tend to disappoint and leave you depressed, destitute, and direly hungover as you slowly realise you spent £200 to surround yourself with drinking soc boys while listening to the “dulcet” tones of the Ceilidh band. To help you cut through the crap, Hilton & Hennessey have taken a well-earned break from the seedy company of future pub quiz tie-breakers to give you a rundown of this year’s most hyped Balls.

Tit Hall June Event:

Unlike their attention-hogging younger brother, Trinity’s (with the tagline of “First and Third, Second to none”) Tit Hall’s June Event is the perennial second choice. And, hey, being considerably cheaper than most other May Balls is something we can’t fault them on. It’s the perfect place to go for people who want to pad out their Instagrams with ball pictures without looking like a twat for going to three glorified school discos that cost £200+.

Verdict: With Tiktok’s celebrity railway enthusiast, Francis Bourgeois, being rumoured to grace guests’ ears with his DJ set, we can wholeheartedly recommend the June Event – if you’re lucky, you might be able to persuade him to rail you.

John’s May Ball:

Johnians have historically been the butt of many jokes. People say they’re all from posh schools, they have stupid hair, they’re all in drinking socs, and most of all that they’re all Tories. These disgustingly absurd assertions go against everything that John’s stands for. So, to show their solidarity with the People’s Soviet of May Ball Presidents, they clamped down on greedy musicians boycotting the ball in order to line their already considerable pockets and took a stand against the morally abominable capitalist artists. Whatever happened to the starving artist?

Verdict: Any comrade worth their socialist salt should show their proletarian solidarity with John’s May Ball, and meet with their local Commissar to arrange a ticket delivery.

Robinson May Ball:

Despite the god-awful title of “Indulge in Disorderly Conduct”, and wholly unoriginal roaring 20s theme, Robinson promises a night of good music (apart from the Queen tribute band), enough alcohol to make you forget you chose to go to Robinson – and their poor ticket sales mean the food queues will likely be short. Promising all this at an attractive price point of £140 (a mere drop in the ocean for our friends at CUCA) means the only Great Depression we’ll have after the ball will be the Tab publishing a video of Daniel screaming his lungs out to Toploader’s ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’.

“There’ll be enough alcohol to make you forget you chose to go to Robinson”

Our verdict: The darkness of the night will probably mask the college’s Grade II* listed splendour, so it’s probably the only opportunity you’ll have to go to Robinson without actually having to look at it.

Trinity May Ball:

The height of luxury. Second to none. This event is so special they can’t even bring themselves to call it Trinity May Ball – those lucky enough to secure a ticket will in fact be attending the “First and Third Trinity Boat Club May Ball”. The preposterous title is a good illustration of the pretentiousness of the event that awaits you. Few events distil the Cambridge experience as purely as Trinity May Ball – it truly is what you and your mum imagined Cambridge to be when you secured a place on a drizzly January afternoon. That’s the image they like to present, anyway. However, arguably, when you reach your fifth time seeing an Eton-educated, McKinsey-bound Union hack throwing up on his mate’s brogues after one too many Bollys, you’ll have had enough and wish you just went to the pub instead.

Our verdict: At £485 for a pair of tickets, who can really afford to go anyway in this day and age? You could save up to attend in future years by working the event – but we would argue cold pasta and elitism is too high a price for the privilege of eating a single bao bun at 3am.

King’s Affair:

When I heard King’s Affair marketed itself as the “antidote to May Balls”, I confess my ears pricked up. As a lifelong (since this time last year) May Ball sceptic, perhaps this would be the event for me. Relaxed. Cheap. Unpretentious. Then I went on Fixr and saw tickets are still £135. Not exactly the antidote me or my bank account are looking for.


Mountain View

Undercover Tory! How we 'snuck' into CUCA

In fact, it turns out the promise of an ‘antidote’ only stretches so far as the event being tuxedo-free, with dressing up encouraged. Dressing up extravagantly would be great fun – that is, until you realise it inevitably means the following morning your hangover will be joined by the overwhelming discomfort of being leered at by a weird old man in the Daily Mail comment section.

Our verdict: This year’s theme, “Carnivalesque”, promises to “turn upside down the social hierarchy” – with the event promoting the familiar tagline of “beats not Bollinger”. The resident champagne socialists at King’s are sure to be disappointed by both of these prospects.

Emma Presents:

This is my own college’s ball so I’m going to keep schtum. But while I have you we can question the concept of “Emma Presents”. Literally what does that mean?

Verdict: The Ceilidh Band are playing here so avoid like the plague. [If you are offended by our Ceilidh Band slander, please send complaints to editor@varsity.co.uk. Also get a life.]