How To: Get To A May Ball

HANNAH GRAHAM gives the best advice on how to crash this year’s most exclusive May Balls, since another student paper published some on Wednesday.

Fairy God Mother Great Escape May Ball may ball break in May Week Queen's College Tab May ball guide Varsity

So you want to attend Cambridge’s best May Balls, but don’t really fancy the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on just one night?

Never fear, readers, for the ever-helpful Tab team are here with our top five ways of gaining free entry to the year’s best parties. Now, it’s possible you may recently have read a similar article in a certain other student newspaper. Statistically speaking however, this is unlikely – so we decided to go ahead and publish this just the same.

Tab readers victorious

Sleep with a committee member:  

Yes, committee members get their own free ticket but if, like me, you find the prospect of handing in this week’s essays, making it to at least some lectures and maintaining something that still vaguely resembles a social life really quite enough effort, thank you very much, you probably don’t fancy throwing a party for hundreds of strangers as well. Solution? Devote just a few hours of your leisure time to pursuing an intimate relationship with a committee member of your preferred ball.

Of course, given that May Balls aren’t – somewhat confusingly – until June, you’ll either need to be sufficiently dedicated to the idea of a free ticket to start a long term relationship with someone just because they get to decide what food is served at Queen’s this year; or confident enough in your sexual prowess that you’ll leave it to a few nights before to secure your place. The aforementioned other newspaper rather innocently suggests ‘Make new friends’ but, be honest, would you offer a free ticket worth £150 to the kind of friend you don’t get to see naked? Really?

Break in:

I’m told that in the past, breaking into May Balls was as much of an institution as the events themselves, with colleges occasionally turning something of a blind eye. Sadly, one of our university’s great criminal traditions risks being destroyed, as many Balls are now threatening two year bans for anyone caught breaking in. ’Sneaking into the workers room, climbing over gates or through the windows’ isn’t really going to cut it anymore (thanks again, Varsity). Yes, we now require a little more ingenuity, but come on guys, we’re Cambridge students – isn’t originality of thought something they look for in interviews? My current favourite scheme is a Great Escape-style tunnel running from the loos in the Vaults to the middle of Trinity quad, but further suggestions are most welcome.


Ask your Fairy God-Mother:

If Disney films and childhood visits to pantomimes have taught me anything, it’s this: If you sit weeping on the floor with a broom next to you and complain about your predicament to some mice, or your friend Buttons, then you almost certainly ‘shall go to the ball!’ You might get a free dress that way too, and if you have a pumpkin handy you won’t have to walk. The whole leaving-at-midnight thing tends to mean you’ll miss the survivors’ photo though.

Employ a cunning disguise:

Yeah, you can try the whole ‘I’m with the band’ thing, but let’s be honest, it’s been done. Again, this calls for a little more creativity. For example, do you really think the bouncers know what the Master of the given college looks like? Do you know what the Master of your college looks like? I’m pretty sure a fake beard, a gown and an authoritative air coupled with the phrase ‘No I don’t have a ticket, I’m the Master of this college, how dare you accost me in this manner?!’ will be enough to get you past anyone. Apart from the actual Master. Who might be annoyed. Alternatively, most balls send workers out to deliver refreshments to people in the queue. Take advantage of this fact by adopting a slightly stressed demeanour and a large tray, and running through the gates shouting ‘can’t stop, we need more champagne!’ If you’re not comfortable lying, feel free to head immediately to the bar, and stock up on as much champagne as you consider necessary.


Pick a college. Play a few intense games of hide and seek there, as research. Find out the date of their Ball. The night before, pack a bag containing snacks, blankets and your outfit. Wander casually into the college and conceal yourself in the most successful hiding place you discovered during your research. At the appropriate time, simply throw on your dress/suit, jump out and throw yourself into the night’s revelry.

DISCLAIMER: The Tab accepts no responsibility for any disciplinary action, sexually transmitted disease or physical attack from bouncers that may be sustained as a result of following any of the above advice. For dull but probably more realistic ways of getting tickets, see Varsity.