Catz May Ball
ROBERT SMITH: ‘I’d spend an evening quaffing quick booze to wash down a Nutella crepe as Paul from S Club sings ‘Follow your heart’s desire’ instead of ‘Climb every mountain higher’ for the hundredth time any day.’
Anyone who says Catz May Ball was their first choice is a dirty liar. As Third Years who should have known better and booked tickets earlier, a few of us scrabbled around for somewhere to go long after the tickets ran dry for other balls. Only Catz remained suspiciously not sold out. We booked quickly and then theorized.
Perhaps the theme was truly awful, we thought, but instead of ‘Sutcliffe’s Bradford’ or ‘Coprophilia’ the theme was the unexciting but undeniably solid ‘Make Believe’. Maybe there was some association we were simply unaware of, such as BNP sponsorship, and attending would have our name on a blacklist for years to come. In the end we discovered that there was no real reason that Catz took so long to sell out, as it was a bloody good ball that played to its strengths and minimised its limitations.
Although the queue stretched further than an oil spill the Catz team, unlike the wastes of flesh at BP, dealt with it well, getting everyone through quickly and with limited fuss. Rather than the usual annoying magician who tries to cop a feel of your girlfriend while he finds the red ball he just ‘disappeared’, the queue entertainment was provided by some drummers beating out a suitably ominous rhythm. This got everyone quite excited as human beings are essentially hairless apes in suits, and we relate pounding drums to excitement.
The tired theme ‘Make Believe’ was pulled off well. Women in Venetian masks sat pretending to be part of the table in simultaneously the most awesome and most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen at a May Ball. Inevitably there was the big white marquees and ugly tables, but disguised by tasteful lighting and unusual style choices such as an indoor fountain.
None of us give a damn about the theme. Everyone I know who went to John’s this year was left baffled as to what the theme actually was but talked about their night as if they had witnessed a rap battle between Jesus and Mohammed.
For me, the most important thing about a May Ball is the stuff you push down your neck, and Catz got it absolutely right. Champagne flowed all evening and you could get everything from Mojitos to Milton Ales with almost no hassle. Everything was generally made in large batches, rather than to order, which minimised the queues no end. For those who were distraught at having missed out on some May Week Cindies there were all the colours of the VK rainbow on offer. Life for the teetotal amongst us was also pretty damn good, the pinnacle being the Oreo flavoured milkshakes provided by Shake Away.
The food was even better. Fajitas and crepes provided quick and tasty relief, the burgers didn’t taste like raw sewage for a change and cups of Convent Garden soup could be knocked back like Vodka shots, though I wouldn’t recommend eyeballing them. I never queued for more than a couple of minutes for anything and amazingly most of the food and drink was still available at 6am. In short, for those of us who try to earn back their ticket price by consuming as much as possible Catz was heaven.
By contrast the entertainment only did the job. There was no exciting comedy or new music on offer, although I did enjoy the overly camp, cowboy boots clad, North American singer-songwriter who, as my best friend put it, ‘sang about bumming for an hour’. What Catz did do, however, was push the nostalgia centre in your brain into overdrive. My girlfriend and gayfriend loved Blueprint’s boy band antics but they were massively overshadowed by the truly awesome Truly Medley Deeply. The TMD boys essentially did semi-acoustic covers of pop songs, blending in many different snippets into one long medley. On paper it sounds diabolic, but with their perfectly timed 4am set they had everyone going a little bit mental and ranged from MGMT to Leonard Cohen to Daft Punk without missing a beat.
Of course the jewel in the St Catz childhood nostalgia crown was S Club 3, and although they only played half an hour they didn’t disappoint. Starting with S Club Party was slightly unfortunate as the song lists all seven bandmates in sequence, which left the three on stage looking like pop music’s version of the surviving soldiers on Remembrance Day paying tribute to their fallen comrades. Jo, the racist one who can actually sing, belted out the verses and Bradley did the little pseudo-rap sections with great aplomb. Paul, however, looked like a sweaty uncle at a wedding, and fumbled around in a bargain bin England shirt forgetting even the most famous of lines. No one cared though, and Paul appeared to be so glad to not be stuck in a bedsit having a different flavoured Pot Noodle for each meal, that he won the crowd over with his cheeky grin (even if it did reveal his multiple chins). I sincerely hope he cashed in this performance with some adoring fresher later on in the evening.
So what was dreadful? Not much really. The lack of attractions was a little bit annoying, with one bouncy castle seeming paltry compared to the Bumper Cars and Swing Boats you get at other May Balls. Serving many of the drinks in actual glasses was nice, but was also completely idiotic given that the dancefloor was more glass than floor by 6am. No ball’s perfect, however, and Catz got just about everything right that really mattered.
Sod your NME flavour of the week indie outfit, your Laser Quest and your oysters. I’d spend an evening quaffing quick booze to wash down a Nutella crepe as Paul from S Club sings ‘Follow your heart’s desire’ instead of ‘Climb every mountain higher’ for the hundredth time any day.
Food and Drink:
Value for Money:
Star Attraction: Enough quality food and drink to feed a smallish American state.
Biggest Turn Off: The mentally ill vagrant taking the Survivors photo.