Updated: Review and Interviews: Robinson May Ball

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LEONIE JAMES: 'Not as classy as some of the main balls, but a hell of a lot of fun, and definitely worth the ticket price, Robinson was a great night out.'

LEONIE JAMES gives her summary of the night… 

We were all a bit apprehensive in the queue. None of my friends having previously been to Robinson, we didn’t know what to expect, supposedly having agreed to a full-on May Ball for significantly cheaper than the average. However despite initial (and it proved, unfounded) reservations we were pleasantly surprised. The ents in particular I was very impressed with, everything from ball pits, to dodgems, to fairground games and even laser quasar was there. Unfortunately one ball guest urinated in aforementioned laser quasar before we got the chance to experience it, but having the option was pleasant.

The committee had the main stage almost exactly right: Ou Est Le Swimming Pool and Two Door Cinema Club tore up the prime time slots; later, Truly Medley Deeply and The EllaFunks went down a storm. Chilled out jazz in ‘La Sale Des Roses’ was a great space to have some down time. Perhaps the only oversight was the sight of poor Alex Metric, a brilliant technical DJ, spinning to an empty tent, after it emptied at 1am after the main act. Anyone who remembers the end of Calvin Harris's set at John's last year will know the feeling, but one vast exodus at a ball is probably unavoidable.

If there was one major query, then it would have to be with the layout. Signs were few and far between and whilst the college itself was a bit of a maze to an outsider- something we can’t criticise the committee for- it felt a bit confused, and equating the map in the program to real life was difficult. 

This was mirrored in the design. The outside garden was undoubtedly spectacular, but inside the red brick maze, perhaps less so. The French theme came through though, and the projections of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe on the walls were inspired, but as a whole it lacked the coherence of some of the bigger balls. That said, it’s clear that the money went elsewhere, and rightly so. The committee were ingenious when it came to keeping their guests entertained, with portrait artists and even speed dating going on a various points in the evening. Not to mention the superlative firework display – it's a wonder how they can afford it.

As for the refreshments, again I was very pleasantly surprised. There was an excellent cocktail stand, and the range of drinks available was impressive. Food wise, French touches like Coq Au Vin and potato gratin sated the appetite, although the hog roast was sparse at best, and ran out at around 1am. The abundance of jelly beans was exciting to a drunk ball guest but did little to satisfy a group of hungry twenty year olds. ‘Le Restaurant du Jardin’ was suspiciously school-canteen, and although there were enough doughnuts, ice cream and candy floss available to satisfy even the most precocious five year old, in terms of actual meals, more could have been done. The food stalls needed to either be spread out more or have more of an organised system; the vast majority surrounded the main tent.

Not as classy as some of the main balls, but a hell of a lot of fun, and definitely worth the ticket price, Robinson was a great night out.

Food and Drink: 

Wow Factor:


Value for Money:


Star Attraction: Dodgems and fireworks

Turn Off: Aesthetics



Chris Bannon had a chat to some of the entertainment during the ball… 

He got to as Two Door Cinema Club bassist, Kevin Baird, just why they are playing 4 balls?  Their reasons were more economic than anything. Apparently one ball did book them first then an offer came in from another the next night and they agreed to it. He "couldn't remember" which one booked them first, but he said the ball committees were oblivious to the fact the band were booked else where.  That said they did play a gig in France on Saturday night, so haven't been around and about in Cambridge all week.  

And what did the band think of their gig? They liked the gardens, but not Robinson's red bricks and said of Cambridge as a whole, "Good at rowing, better than Oxford." The band wasn't sure what to expect from the performance but imagined "drunk kids in suits" would be very different to normal.

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool were hilarious, describing how no one on Australian radio can pronounce their name, attempting to demonstrate "ou est le" in an Aussie accent multiple times. They spent their days sampling Cambridge punting and, according to the committee, watching football before their set and the rest of their evening fighting on the dodgems.  

Brendan Burns has toured Universities before so knew what to expect from the crowd and thought that in Cambridge, "without being too elitist, their attention spans are longer."  Apparently, we can also handle our drink better than at his other gigs.  Having taking some time off the Uni circuit, his performance at Robinson made him feel very "old", even picking on the domestic bursar in his set who left early and when asked why, replied, "I'm off to stop the cheque."

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