The King's Affair event last year was themed Uncanny ValleyJohannes Hjorth

One of Cambridge’s most hotly-anticipated May Balls, the King’s Affair, had its ticketing system infiltrated, and crashed, when general tickets were released at midnight on Monday.

One individual attempted to secure a number of tickets with fraudulent accounts, and targeted an aspect of the ticketing system – run by QPay – separate from that which deals with King’s members and general release tickets. After the system identified the individual, they were blacklisted.

On Monday, the system ran into further trouble as, in the first few minutes after tickets were released, over 3,000 students attempted to reserve the few hundred tickets available, the committee told Varsity. Over the next 20 minutes, system records show, over 25,000 requests came in.

Speaking to Varsity, one student at Newnham, who wished to remain anonymous, said they managed to get a ticket “right away without any problems,” but described staying “up for an hour trying to get two more tickets” with two other friends, with the website “crashing and taking ages to load.” They added: “the tickets they eventually managed to buy were obviously ones that other people couldn’t pay for before the timer ran out, probably because the pages wouldn’t load in time!”

One student, Thea Sands, described their experience: “I finished my bar shift at 23.30 at Clare then didn’t want to risk missing out so sat on the road outside on my laptop trying to get a tick till half 1. I didn’t even manage to get one at 1.30 I had to cycle back and run to my friend’s room for her to get me a ticket as it seemed to be working on her laptop but no one else’s.”

“There was a crack team of three of us refreshing screens for a good hour. And emails/phone numbers weren’t being accepted also it was absolute chaos”.


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Another student told Varsity they “were up to half past 2 trying to get on a waiting list.”

Speaking to Varsity, the committee stressed that “nobody’s tickets have been affected, nor has any personal information been compromised.” Referring to the crash of the ticketing system, they said: “Based on previous years, the committee had not expected this degree of interest and did its best to mitigate the problems as they arose.

“We would like to formally apologise for any inconvenience or distress caused. We understand the frustration of wanting to get a ticket and being unsuccessful, and deeply appreciate the effort made to attain tickets.”

Following backlash against the system’s crash, students took to Facebook with their complaints, which were then deleted “because they contained strong and inappropriate language directed at the committee”, including one which said: “I got a ticket but you guys are cunts”. The committee added that the posts were “unacceptable” and “failed to reflect the welcoming and inclusive ethos of the event”.

A number of other May Week events use the QPay system, including: Newnham’s Summer Soirée, Hughes Hall May Ball, Christ’s May Ball, Sidney Sussex June Event, and Darwin & St. Edmund’s May Ball.

The two other most in-demand May balls, Trinity and St. John’s, use their own ticketing systems. Bank transfers are used by the majority of the remaining colleges during May Week, including Jesus, Clare, and St. Catharine’s May Balls, and the Pembroke and Emmanuel June Events.

This year’s King’s Affair, themed Music of the Spheres, will take place on 21st June

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