Jesus May Ball

PHOEBE LUCKHURST: “A very reasonable ticket price, and fun abounding from every court, cloister, tree and marquee, Jesus May Ball was a fantastic evening.”

Benylin Circus ents Eton jesus college jesus may ball M&S Marks and Spencer's Marquee May Ball Mr Hudson Phoebe Luckhurst Pizza Silent Disco Sub Focus Truly Medley Deeply

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We called it “the booze cruise”. At about 11pm, the temperature dropping from “Arctic” to “colder than a witch’s teat”, we decided we’d hit every one of Jesus May Ball’s numerous alcoholic stop-off points in an effort to knit an alcohol jacket. There was even a proposed route, which was scrapped somewhere around stop-off point three (doubles galore, and as many glasses as you could nestle in the crooks of your limbs), ultimately forsaken in favour of crashing around in the Silent Disco. I’d lost my headphones by this point, but there was definitely music playing in my head. Too many doubles perhaps.

Food and drink was everywhere, and with the exception of a bizarre concoction called ‘Pussy’ which tasted like out-of-date Benylin, it was suitably delectable. Jesus’ beautiful Cloister court boasted sushi, cheeses, olives and champagne; elsewhere, people wandered around with popcorn, Eton mess, half-masticated lumps of marshmallow semi-coated in chocolate and doughnuts that I never managed to find but stared, rather distractingly, at anyone who had located a sugary corpuscle. Sorry. My only disappointment was the piece of pizza I waited forty minutes to obtain. It became a matter of pride: once I’d queued for twenty minutes, I wasn’t leaving until I had got my mitts on a greasy quarter, except that what I was presented with after such a prolonged period of standing (or rather, sinking, heel-first into the grass, a lot more painful than it sounds when your calf muscles are about as developed as an Ethiopian child’s) was less than an eighth of a pizza and had only one, solitary lump of canned tomato as a topping. I ate it anyway, and then went in search of more sushi, which, I can confirm was better than M&S’.

Turning to ents, Truly Medley Deeply were my highlight. They were fantastic, getting everyone on their feet to such an extent that a poor member of Jesus’ staff had to come and ask the girls to stop dancing so vigorously at the sides because they were ‘making heel dents in the sideboard’. Make sure you catch them at a May Ball near you. Slight logistical error sticking Mr Hudson and Sub Focus in the same slot; I watched the former until I’d heard Supernova (guaranteed crowd pleaser) and then rejoined the booze cruise – but by all accounts Sub Focus were brilliant, a friend telling me she’d hitched her dress into her knickers so she could dance better, which is nothing if not a testament to their performance.

Jesus is vast and beautiful; the Orchard and Fellows’ Garden looked particularly beautiful. In my mind, a circus is rather garish but there was nothing grotesque about the tasteful grand-scale fairy lights or vivid spotlights and even the rides (a carousel and a set of swings, the latter I declared repeatedly to be easily one of the highlights of my life, though that might have been the booze cruise talking) and the nomadic entertainment (clowns, performers on stilts) gave it the requisite dose of surreal rather than nightmarish.

A very reasonable ticket price, and fun abounding from every court, cloister, tree and marquee, Jesus May Ball was a fantastic evening.

Food and Drink:

Wow Factor:

Value for Money:

Star attraction: The swings and the magnificent carousel, straight out of Mary Poppins.

Biggest turn off: The pizza queue and its wares: a sliver of pizza is not worth forty minutes of agonising queueing.