May Ball Survival

ANNA SHEINMAN guides you through the marathon of May Ball survival.

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Twelve hours, dozens of acts, hundreds of people, tens of thousands of pounds spent and shed-loads of booze. A May Ball is not a party, it’s a marathon.

Whether you’re a Fresher new to the race, or an old hand looking to go out in a blaze of glory, The Tab has all the tactics and top tips to get you to the finish line.

7pm. Mission objective: acquiring sufficient sustenance

Lady’s man, man’s man and man about town Juan Zober de Francisco knows how to kick things off: “Only beginners stop and stare in wonder as they enter their May Ball. Walk straight ahead and ignore the first court. Working your way backwards means fewer queues and more fun.”

Expert opinion is unanimous: head for food and drink first before the queues build up.  Cricket blue Phil Hughes says “I do like a Hog Roast, so to maximise stomach room I’ll only have one meal on the day of the ball when I wake up around noon”.

As for how to choose drinks, David Holland, Treasurer of Girton Spring Ball is clear: “if you want to try everything, drink in descending order of cost. The more expensive the drink, the less there will be of it. We had a Hendrick’s Gin bar, it’s £25 a bottle so we couldn’t afford as much, and it was the only drink to run out.”

Early on, before you’re drunk, is also the time to find the loos, stick a bottle of water in your bag, and most of all, take your time: the trial has just begun.

9pm. Mission objective: prevent vomiting.

Noobs will by this point have had four drinks, no food, and decided to go on the upside-down-spinny-thing. Twice. This is the whistle for the chunder train to leave the station, and vomming is such a poor choice when wearing expensive clothes. Count how many drinks you could happily manage on a night out and work out how many that is per hour, for most this won’t be more than one. And if you don’t normally cope well mixing drinks, now is not the time to start. Sticking to spirits gives you the most choice: you can have spirits with mixers, cocktails, and shots.

Alcohol is not the only route to Sick City. Louise Ripley Duggan, former Tab Columnist says “do not participate in the Cardboard Boat Race the day before a ball. You will fall in, you will swallow the Cam, you will get incredibly ill, and you will infect your friends, who will then have to leave the ball. Not that I’m still upset about that or anything.”

11pm. Mission objective: seeing your preferred acts.

You may arrive at a ball in a group of twenty, but there’s always one who wants to spend the whole thing in the silent disco. This is the time to be selfish. At 11, when the big names are due on, see whose plans tally best with yours, and split up. Truly Medley Deeply wins over chums, every time.

As for how to actually see Pixie Lott, Jesus student Samuel Johnston recommends “sharp elbows”. Get assertive.

1am. Mission objective: not getting lost.

Unless you’re in your own college, you will at some point get lost and/or lose your friends. In such a noisy, drunken environment, a fully charged phone will only get you so far. Last year my whole group pre-arranged a 1am meeting point, which is geeky, but worked well.

If you do get lost, and are drunk and alone, remember this is not a disaster. It is an opportunity. ‘I’ve lost all my friends’ and looking either cheeky/vulnerable as appropriate is a damn fine reason to sit down next to that hot girl/guy in the comedy tent.

3am. Mission objective: physical comfort.

It is now 3am, and 10 degrees. Former Tab columnist Sophie Thorpe suggests: “employ a fur. Leave it in the cloakroom, and when your beer jacket wears thin, you’ll still be toasty warm.”

Also to be left in the cloakroom for later use: scarves, umbrellas and if your fur is at the dry cleaner, a coat. For girls, flat shoes, leggings, plasters and tit tape will all make the ride smoother. And less nipple-y.

Murray Eds graduate Katie Taffler says now is the time to recharge: “after the big acts, I like to take some time to have a nice sit down and a cup of tea.”

5am. Mission objective: making the survivors’ photo.

Rule number one of the survivor’s photo – it’s not obligatory. You paid for this ball, you owe it nothing. If you’re tired, go home. This sad waste can be avoided by being on Ball Time. This is like Greenwich Mean Time, but a lot later. Get into the habit of going to bed at 6am and waking up at 2pm a couple of days before, and watching the sun come up over the ball is just part of your bedtime routine.

If this doesn’t work, Downing Medic Rob Legg says “I personally survived two balls in a row in first year by taking a 30 minute powernap during the second ball.”

And when it’s all over, Newnham Engling Rosie Robson says “take a couple of aspirin and have some water before bed, and leave out more, you’re going to need them.”