Girton Spring Ball

OSCAR WILLIAMS-GRUT is wowed by Girton's fairytale Spring Ball, complete with swings, sushi and Sailor Jerry's.

Once Upon A Storytime

16th March 2012, £89

Go to Girton Spring Ball. Seriously, do it. Go pester your Girton friends for a ticket to next year’s, or go and make Girton friends if you don’t have any. 

Spring/Snow balls always struck me as the silver medal to May Balls’ gold, but last night Girton was as shining a nugget as anything May Week can muster.

I’d never been to Girton before last night, but from the first moment I joined the queue I was impressed. The fairytale theme worked perfectly with the setting, with the towering column of Girton’s entrance conjuring visions of Narnia.

The illusion continued once inside, with an oversized ‘Once’ lurking in the bushes. A projection onto a building in Cloisters Court made the building shift and swirl and at times be occupied by spectral dancers.

In Woodlands court, the simple idea of putting coloured lights in students’ windows across the court worked wonders, while a huge boat swing, which looked like it was “held together with hope” according to one friend, provided the seat-of-your-pants entertainment that childhood is all about.

Inside, the building came alive. Strobe and strip lighting along the floors of corridors gave them a hallucinogenic and kaleidoscopic effect, like Wonka’s wondrous boat ride. In Discoland (Hall), polystyrene clouds hung from the ceiling, while projections of the night sky above mimicked Hogwarts. Even small details like blocking off stairs by covering them with teddy bears showed fantastic creativity.

Often the committee didn’t need to do much to make the surroundings special. The old library, used for tarot readings and fortune telling,already looked incredible and the cheese and fruit spreads in the fellows lounge, along with various string and brass quartets throughout the night, made the room feel like the drawing room of the Titanic.

But enough about what it looked like, what about the food? What about the enterta

inment? What about the booze?

Across the board the committee gave incredible value for money. Hungry? How about some Sushi, or Paella, or a Hog Roast, or Mussels in white wine sauce? Yes, mussels in white wine sauce.

Want a drink? Sailor Jerry’s rum and Hendrick’s gin were on hand with stands to whet your whistle, while Cambridge’s very own River Bar were making some of the most delicious cocktails you’ve ever had, including the Dark n’ Stormy, made with 3-year-aged Havanna rum. One of those alone would set you back a tenner in the real world. But it wasn’t the real world, it was a fairytale!

But there were some downsides. The entertainment was good but didn’t shine. Not many had heard of headliner Loick Essien, and though he gave a good performance he didn’t have the star quality needed.

Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw was also a bit of a disappointment. His set of R’n’B and rap classics went down well, but iTunes could have done a better job mixing – do we really need to hear the first half of ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ twice in a row?

The student entertainment on the other hand was fantastic. Itchy Feet had crowds grooving in Discoland while DJs in the dance tent had guests dancing until dawn.

If I had to pick holes, the queues for food and drink were too long initially, the Hendrick’s stand ran out disappointingly early around 11.30 and the comedy was inaudible to anyone but the first few rows.

But there was plenty else to keep people busy: photo booths, acoustic rooms, a helter skelter, dodgems… the list goes on.

The whole night was a success. There was always more to explore, more to see and more to do. As I said before, go to Girton Spring Ball. Seriously, do it.

Food and drink:

Value for money:

Wow factor:

Star Attraction: The whole place looked fantastic

Biggest turn-off: Nick Grimshaw’s terrible DJ tekkers

  • Conor Connington II

    Matt hemmings did an amazing job, he is amazing.

    The helter-skelter was at least 0.5 hemmings tall!!!!

  • 3rd year

    aesthetically the best ball i've been to at cambridge i'd say.

    • lol 'aesthetically'

      pretentious much?

      • Tabs

        We LIKE long words.

        • umm

          pretentious is also a long word

          just sayin'

  • Brilliant:

    'Biggest turn-off: Nick Grimshaw’s terrible DJ tekkers'

  • I…

    hope this doesn't get judged alongside May Balls. It was good but not amazing. Warm vodka and lemonades; long queues; a grim number of VKs; rickety (and, sweet jesus, I mean RICKETY) dodgems/swings/helter-skelters; terrible DJs…

    I had a great night, so thank you Girton. But essentially I just got really pissed.

  • Hidden Costs

    It should be pointed out that the electricity costs for the coloured lights in rooms facing Woodlands Court will be borne by the students living therein: so not only were they disrupted by the noise of the Ball, it will hit their pocket! And the worst thing… the installation was run on an intrusive opt-out basis. See the electronic mail below:

    From: "Thomas O'Pray" <>
    Date: Mon 12/03/2012 21:26:18 GMT
    To: JCR LIST <>


    As part of the aesthetics set-up for Girton Ball, a member of the committee will be accessing the rooms E5-E23a and F8-F26a, inclusive, which face onto Woodlands Court.

    We will be changing the light bulbs in desklights – this will take no more than a couple of minutes. Please leave the desklight as set up and switched on through the evening. The spare bulb will be left in your room and you can swap them back around on Saturday after the ball ends.

    This has been arranged in consultation with the maintenance department and the head porter. If you envisage any problems or would like your room to be excluded, please reply to

    Thanks for your co-operation,
    Vic Gramm

    • Hidden Stupidity

      I do believe it says 'if you'd like your room to be excluded' it's not difficult to send an email to opt out if the 8p electricity fee for the evening would hit your pocket too hard….

      • Hidden Costs

        Notwithstanding, I take issue with the Ball Committee's attitude, and feel very uncomfortable with the thought of a student being entrusted with a master key. They should have made their aesthetic white elephant an opt-in procedure, and preferably offered a rebate.

        • You meanie

          Ridiculous. We did the same at Pembroke May Ball last year. I'm pretty shocked that your opinion of your student colleagues is so low that you think they would take your stuff in this situation…even if they wanted to, do you think they'd be stupid enough not to realise that they'd be caught immediately? And if they made it opt in then no-one would bother and the whole effect, which relies on having the majority of the rooms lit, would be ruined. It's rare to see cool, creative, cost-effective aesthetic touches like that at balls so just lighten up (geddit?)

          • Hidden Costs

            The end does not justify the means.

            If people are unlikely to bother to opt-in, then maybe this aesthetic effect is not such a good idea, and the stupid ball committee should think up something less intrusive. You meanie's logic is perverse; a bit like saying "let us not have a referendum on this, because they might vote no and the stupid plebs do not know what is in our best interests."

            And I do not think that my discomfort with a student being given a master key is particularly shocking; it is perfectly reasonable. It is not just a matter of potential theft; it is a matter of privacy.

            I should also point out that the ball committee have been pretty sloppy: some of the coloured lights are still on, almost a week after the event. Perhaps the occupants of the rooms in question had gone down for the vacation before the ball, and (unless somebody else takes action) will come back in Easter term to be greeted by a whopping bill for a light being left on for over a month.

            • Oh come on

              You knew what time they would be coming round! You had plenty of time to hide all your sex toys or whatever. Bedders go in my room every week, they often come in when I'm in bed or have left my bin out. It's part of living in shared accommodation.

              Comparing this situation to a general political stance is just silly.

              Admittedly they ought to have been more vigilant about rooms which might be empty and sorted that out with housekeeping or whatever.

              ''Stupid ball committee''? They put a HUGE amount of work in. If many people WERE as bothered about this light thing as you are, then they WOULD have opted-out. I assume you did opt-out. Well done, you've avoided a whopping 8p electricity charge and maintained you precious privacy. Clearly not many people felt the same as you do. Therefore please stop going on about it.

            • Results

              And the results are now in… I can confirm the end does indeed justify the means!

              Seriously, the lights looked great and it was almost no effort for the Girton students involved – many of whom were probably at the ball anyway.

    • Odd

      Who pretends to be a Students' Union campaign on the Tab?!

  • Ballgoer

    Was an absolutley incredible night, better than any of the may balls I have attended. Thank you to the whole ball comittee for producing a truly outstanding night!

  • too poor to attend

    The disruption to College life was immense, and, in my considered opinion, did not justify the senseless debauchery and decadence that the toffs clearly enjoyed.

    Woodlands Court was closed for a whole week, and at that time when the weather is getting nice enough to be able lounge outside. The regular cafeteria service was suspended for the whole weekend. Whilst my room was thankfully distant from the Ball itself, the noise of intoxicated students returning to their rooms just after 05:00 ruined my sleep.

    Worst of all, the Library closed scandalously early… at *16:30* [sic!]; on a weekday in full term, that is unacceptable. Thus, by that criterion, it is obvious that the Ball was not only irrelevant to the College's educational mission, it was directly incompatible.

    For all the aforementioned reasons, I sincerely hope that the Mistress, Fellows, and Scholars will never again grant permission for such an event to take place again in College.

    • hmmm

      your points could all be justified as fair (although incredibly straight-laced) if you hadn't opened your comment with: "…decadence that the toffs clearly enjoyed." from then on on you simply came across as someone with a chip on your shoulder. i'm a girtonian too and i don't think i've ever been accused of being a toff in my life but i had a wonderful time and would be dismayed were it not to happen again.

      • jtbm

        when i started work at Cambridge Uni (Girton) i thought it was gonna be all 'lardy dah' and posh Man was i wrong. i love working at Girton and ALL the students i come into contact with are pretty cool and down to earth. (im even growing to like the boatys 😉 )

        • GirtonBoatie

          I knew you liked us really 😀

    • you need to

      lighten up

    • :-/

      not sure if srs

    • Don't get it

      For those who hadn't realised, this is clearly ironic. However, it is also not funny or relevant.

      • too poor to attend

        no, I am not being ironic actually. I realise that by many students' reckoning, I sound outspoken, but I am still 100% serious. A College's mission is educational, and I fail to see how an utterly non-educational activity on this scale can be justified in view of the disruption it causes, and during termtime. There are already more than enough social occasions that are more worthwhile, less disruptive, and cheaper: formal hall is an obvious example.

    • You are a


  • HELP


  • Laura

    I thought that those two djs who started at 9 were brilliant, Gold Tooth I think they were called?! Anyway, they should become fixtures at most Cambridge events. Not too bad on the eyes either 😉

    • blebbles

      to true. i have a crush on the tall one

  • jtbm

    wow @ to poor well played for getting in on the kiljoy factor! As for your calling the ball atendees toffs i believe that the majority of guests were Girton students, and as im in close contact with a lot of Girton students on a near daily basis i think you obv dont 'realise that Girton is not a 'toffs' college, unless i dont know what a toff is you could enlighten me.

    • BarStalker

      Hi jon

  • ???

    Wait, I don't understand. Why is no one commenting on the fact that there was NO HEADLINE ACT? The ball was amazing, but the music was really poor.

    • Really?!

      All the Main Stage acts were brilliant apart from the two big names. The shite at the top of the bill got the crowds whilst excellent bookings Animal Kingdom, Citizen and Collectors Club played to a half empty tent. Ditching the "names" and moving these guys around would have resulted in a much better music lineup…

      Unfortunately most people want a name rather than a great live act that will actually put the effort in instead of turning up without a live band and miming to a few songs that you might have heard in Cindies…

      • !!!

        Agreed – Logistics was a bit boring while some of the stuff in the dance tent was really fun, and frankly among the best music I've heard in Cambridge (including nights out and Balls)!

  • Matt Capes

    OMG had such a sick nyte! Really great social occasion for a BNOC like me, gives me a chance to get my name out their with all my fellow Cambridge LADS. Hands up to all the ladies who enjoyed my VK stained lips that night (not 1 but 2!) Shout out to all the lads who were getting trashed, thats what Cambridge lyf is all about!. deffs going to the next one, so watch out ladies X

  • calder string quartet

    Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against
    hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
    Any recommendations?

Get the best of The Tab on our app.

, Cambridge Editor

BREAKING: NUS employee breaks referendum rules

Tsk tsk NUS.

BREAKING: Record breaking turnout for NUS Referendum so far

CUSU Coordinator confirms that DSO referendum turnout exceeded after just one day of voting

The NUS can’t be reformed from within

Do you hate anti-Semitism so much that you want to stay in the NUS and fight against it?

Can you guess the price of these Waitrose ‘Essentials’?

You paid how much for Ardennes Pâté?

, Argument Editor

Forget London, I’m moving to Bath

It’s better in every single way


The definitive list of all the most annoying people in the world

This is really, really long


The world’s biggest bouncy castle is going to be at Bestival

Yeah, you’ll probably fall off