Pembroke May Ball

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JONNY SINGER enjoys a slick and varied Pembroke May Ball, with bags to do and no queues in sight.

The Secret Gardens

22nd June 2011, £110

Pembroke’s May Ball attempted to give a little bit of everything; something for everyone: there was no huge standout attraction, the food was immensely varied, the theme completely unnoticeable.

It might sound unspectacular, but it wasn’t. The effect, of a well-spread ball full of variety and low on queues was perpetually excellent.

The food and drink was plentiful (even though the chocolate based attractions seemed to leave a bit early), and tasty. Drink particularly was never far away, and I didn’t notice any of the tents running dry at any point.

On the music side, variety was the key. Cloud Control, supposedly the the next big thing from Australia, left me rather cold from a somewhat static performance.

But what followed on the main stage was fantastic all night. The Futureheads were a top choice for a headline act. Well known hits mixed with bundles of star quality, and a fair bit of audience banter which culminated in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for a guy down the front. It was clear from the moment they walked on stage just how much of an attraction they were, and very few people seemed disappointed.

And the energy didn’t let up, with The Other Tribe playing an excellent set that kept everyone bouncing.

The ‘fringe’ stages had some gems out too. The comedy was up and down (although I particularly enjoyed Jamie Mathieson).

A particular mention here has to go to Peter Dudfield, whose ‘Laughter Therapy’, basically a mosh pit of fake laughter, was one of the most uncomfortable things I have endured this year, yet somehow hilarious at the same time. I had to leave before its conclusion, but I appreciated the effort to do something so odd.

The standard of music around the college however was continually high. I can think of few better ways to bring in the morning than with the excellent ‘Funk Nuggets’, a huge ball of glorious Motown who played around dawn and drew a pretty sizeable crowd.

Back on the main stage ‘DJ Seddon’ rounded off the night with what was basically Cindies on speed in black tie. By this stage we’d done our indie, and our dubstep, and everyone was more than up for S Club and Angels.

There were of course downsides. Falconry as the guests arrive is a lot cooler sounding than it is in reality. By far the most entertaining bit was when one of the birds decided to fly off, thinking the Pembroke scenery more interesting than the scraps of meat his trainer was providing.

The oxygen tent also left me pretty cold, I’m usually quite good at seeking out my own, and flavouring it did very little for me, but the constant queue for the room demonstrates that I was in the minority.

That was, however, the only noticeable queue of the night. The whole thing was brilliantly spaced, and there was always enough to do, eat and drink to prevent any mass build up of people. A slight paella disaster at the beginning of the night aside, I never waited more than two or three minutes for anything.

In terms of attractions, dodgems, laserquest and swings may not sound that incredible. They weren’t. But they were additions, fun here and there, rather than a centrepiece. This ball was built around the music and the drink, and didn’t suffer for it at all. Pembroke showed last night that a huge variety of high quality negates the need for a single showpiece.

Food and Drink:

Wow Factor:

Value for money:

Star attraction: Futureheads

Biggest turn-off: Lack of pre-ball queue entertainment

  • runaway hawk

    From my vantage point the unmentioned integrated open air silent disco and dodgems were massive hits, and if the biggest turn off is the 35 minute queue before the actual event then I think it deserves a better wow factor.

    It was good of you to at least include a core part of a May Ball review: decor …….. oh wait you didn't. The entire thing was amazingly lit up.

    • OED

      what do you understand 'wow factor' to mean? Surely it doesn't mean 'a lack of negatives' as your point about the queue implies. The whole point of this review is that there were many good things but no individually amazing thing, so a 3 star wow-factor seems massively appropriate.

  • pemgirl

    pembroke was amazing. just the design of the main stage was awesome, let alone the design on the ball as a whole… and the fod was amazing. never have i been to another ball with never a queue for the hog roast and bacon butties….

  • Reveller

    The decor was stunning, the food incredible, the ents amazing, the music brilliant, the queues short… All in all it was absolutely gobsmackingly good – definitely deserves a better wow factor than you gave it.


      by why does it matter? surely this will not damage ticket sales in the future?

      VAIN MAN

      • Reveller

        pride, and pride alone. The ball was banging, so deserves an awesome review.

  • Nacho man

    Jonny singer sneezed in my nachos early on in the night. It ruined the whole ball for me.

  • Fantastic

    Pembroke was superb fun, most enjoyable ball that I have ever been to.

  • WOW!

    Now tell me this isn't a whole wow factor star on its own.

    • simpleton

      as in wow what a big audience?

  • crasher

    I would like to thank Pembroke for hosting 3 excellent balls and not improving the security one inch, same route in tried and tested every year, makes this ball an absolute favourite.
    Great job guys!!

  • me

    love your work

  • Gary

    Would love some ‘news’ reporting. That would be great. Opinion pieces aren’t really welcome thank you.

  • Aaron Newbury

    This is without a doubt the most inaccurate article I have read on the TAB. Poor effort, and terrible reporting.

  • Jack

    You only go to Bournemouth? what does it matter?

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