Legendary Hall Warden goes clubbing with students after final formal
Shame it had to be Gravity
Friday night saw the end of an era at Wills Hall. After nearly ninety years of pomp and circumstance, the evening marked the last ever formal with live-in hall staff, ahead of the new controversial pastoral support model set to be introduced in September.
In an emotional and eventful evening, students downed drinks, sang songs and toasted the outgoing SCR and staff in an outpouring of alcohol-soaked affection. Beginning shortly after 7pm, attendees donned masks of the soon-to-be-axed Warden, Professor Robert Vilain, in a tribute that was variously dubbed "sweet", "spooky ", "bizarre" and "dystopian".
There then followed a sumptuous three-course meal replete with the time-honoured traditions of 'pennying', cork popping, Bohemian Rhapsody renditions and various spillings of Sainsbury's prosecco. The outgoing JCR President paid an eloquent tribute to the staff and students before it was Professor Vilain's turn to take to the microphone for the last time.
In a rip-roaring speech that mixed nostalgia with humour, exposition with anecdote, Vilain extolled the Hall and its community to North Korean-esque bursts of enthusiastic applause. Splicing his speech with the immortal words of Frank Sinatra's 'My Way', students banged tables, raised glasses, stood on benches and whistled lustily as the speech neared its conclusion.
As Vilain bade an emotional farewell to his charges, chants of 'For He's a Jolly Good Warden' and 'God Save Our Gracious Warden' rang out before the ritual banging out on the tables reached a tumultuous climax. After symbolically leaving their gowns on the chairs, Professor Vilain followed his Halls team out into the night amid cheers and tears.
Thereafter the hall decamped to Gravity, with the sounds of 'The Wills on the Bus' resounding through a packed U1. Against his better instincts, the Warden of Wills joined the throng, having signed a pledge promising he would experience the delights of a Bristol nightclub before he left.
Armed with a G&T, Vilain strolled into the smoking area to be met by a hail of well-wishers, flocking to him for photographs like piranhas after blood. The excitement and mass Snapchat taking prompted one Gravity bouncer to enquire as to whether the 52-year-old academic was some kind of celebrity.
After half an hour of students drunkenly slurring professions of admiration, Professor Vilain decided to call it a night. At least one attendee was heard exclaiming "I love him, I actually love him" whilst Politics student Ollie Newcombe told The Tab "He's great, it's such a shame he has to go- he's loved among students." Economics and Management fresher Robert Young added "I think it shows what we're losing in the new system."
Asked for his reflections on the night, Vilain replied "My first ever club experience wasn't as scary as I'd imagined, because everyone was so friendly and no-one tried to force me to dance."