Studio 54 carnagerichard nicholl

For most of those who don’t study law, the annual Law Society Ball remains an unsolved mystery for the duration of their time at Cambridge. It is that odd event that whisks its guests away to a mysterious countryside hideout each year; that’s lavishly sponsored by some law firm or other; that’s “really good”, according to that one friend who does law. 

At a critical juncture in my I’m-a-third-year-and-this-is-my-last-chance-to-do-some-stuff mission, I set out to unearth the mystery for myself. And that friend was right: it was good. Really good. Like an exceptionally fun school trip; think Black Country Museum on speed.

At 6pm, like a gaggle of overexcited schoolchildren, we were herded onto our respective coaches, and a mildly stomach-churning 20 minutes later (NB: don’t attend this ball as hung-over as I did – maybe I’ll cool it on the bucket-list front) we emerged at Childerley Hall, the understated but rather magnificent venue for this year’s ball.

The event took place in the Long Barn. It was, yes, a great big long barn, with huge curtains separating the various themed areas: those were extravagance, elegance, decadence and opulence. They were chosen to fit the overarching theme of ‘Studio 54’ – the famed New York nightclub that operated in the late 1970s and played host to the debauched antics of the city’s party going elite; celebrities like Grace Jones, Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol among them. 

The organisers managed to create the feeling of abundance and sumptuousness well. There was a lot to do: glitter face painting, chocolate fountain, photo booth, candy stand, coffee bar, shisha bar, vodka bar, cocktail bar, wine and beer bar. A special mention must go to the grilled cheese sandwiches: these were a revelation and I urge any May Ball committee personnel reading this to hire that brilliant man (and then notify me of the when and whereabouts of the cheese sandwiches).

The silent disco, as ever, was a winner – so much so, in fact, that as the night went on keen disco-goers could be seen smuggling their headsets out of the disco and boogying individually through the crowds loosely clustered along the length of the barn. The live music was pretty good too; Dinah Lux was a particularly entertaining addition to the Main Stage line-up.

I have only a few criticisms. The barn had a lot of charm of its own but there could have been a little more decoration. The sweets at the candy stand ran out pretty quickly. And not all of the live music was up to scratch. It is hard to believe that Grace Jones et al would have approved of the musical offerings of the ailing Truly Medley Deeply last night. Much to the disappointment of my cohort, this long-time May Ball institution seems to have suffered badly from the recent defection of certain band members. As they began to play the theme song from Titanic, it occurred to me that the venue rather resembled the Ark – and the ship was going down. But things soon came afloat again when DJ Cumminz took to the stage.

In the end, like any good trip, it had to come to an end. Ushered back onto the busses from whence we came, things came crashing back down to reality. Underscored by the retching of one of our busmates, we were politely reminded that throwing up on the seats would result in a £50 fine. And with that, we set off into the night.