Centrifugal force: revellers go for a spin Aurélia Li

Following the crushing cancellation of Wolfson’s provisional June Event earlier this year, things looked desperate for the mature college. As all around them committees began hiring acts and staff, the Wolfsonites looked to the stars and prayed for a miracle.

Happily, the universe delivered. Like the hand of God reaching down from the heavens, or like two old-aged pensioners helping each other figure out how to use a computer, help arrived – in the form of fellow mature college, St Edmund’s. Offers were made, back-room deals were struck, MPhils were neglected, and from the ashes of Wolfson June Event rose a slightly disjointed phoenix – a collaborative May Ball.

What the combined committee managed to achieve on Friday night was a stunning balancing act – college and college, food and entertainment, theme and brevity all aligned majestically to produce a stellar night.

The theme, 'The Wild Hunt', was always bound to be a slightly odd one. Based upon northern European folklore, the story of the wild hunt typically revolves around centaurs riding into towns, abducting people and carrying them off into the woods for various bacchanalian activities. While certainly ambitious, numerous elements of the myth definitely fall under the category of  “problematic”, so there was much anticipation about how the committee would make it work.

As it occurred, the theme was a excellent marriage of convenience – the ball took place at the back of St Edmund’s, where, overlooked by Murray Edwards, a colourfully lit arboretum provided the perfect setting. To travel between most of the food vans and entertainments meant walking between trees strung with lights, which produced a sense of discovery that matched the exploration of courts at other colleges.

A variety of entertainments provided fun throughout the night. The centrepiece of the ball was a enormous fairground centrifuge, which your intrepid reviewer wisely decided to ride before indulging in too many victuals. It was joined by dodgems, a live music tent, and silent disco, fire-eaters, a casino and a shisha tent. Queues for all were very reasonable, and were managed well by staff members.

The woods shone with lanterns and fairy lightsAurélia Li

Catering was solid. Though the fare was quite standard – the axis of stodge of barbecue, fajitas and pizza all taking up their usual place – queue times were generally short, which for such a comparatively cheap event was an unexpected joy. The only exception was the pizza queue, but thankfully the oven operator – who appeared to have ignored the advice of Biggie Smalls and had got firmly high off his own supply – was extremely friendly. I would suggest for the future that it was a mistake to offer drunken revellers too much choice – margarita and a vegan option would have been sufficient, and would have sped things up.

Drink queues were similarly short, and a good variety of typical party drinks were provided, with a selection of ales also available. Midway through the night, bottled water ran out, which was somewhat terrifying news for anyone emerging from the packed and hot silent disco, but staff were extremely willing to go the extra few hundred yards (through the intermittent rain) to grab more.

The May Ball committee should be commended highly for both welding a whole new college into the event at the last minute, adopting a complementary May Ball theme, and for providing a night in which ents and sustenance found such perfect harmony.

It might be too early to mark this as the beginning of a great bond between the two colleges – at the survivors’ photo, chants of “Wolfson” and “Eddie’s” split the assembled group. Yet St Edmund’s May Ball in collaboration with Wolfson perhaps marked an auspicious start – if the partnership continues, which is as yet undecided, the ball is now firmly in Wolfson’s college courts to try and match such an excellent event.