Clare May Ball 2013

CHLOE COLEMAN and LEYLA HAMID are dazzled by Clare’s Kaleidoscopic event, which had everything you want from a May Ball.

Clare May Ball


Monday 17th June, £135

Clare has upped its game. From the rumours circulating about last year’s ball, we were worried that the main attraction would be the particularly good smoked salmon; we needn’t have fretted. From queue management to immediate procurement of mini umbrellas for the ten minutes of rain, Clare had everything under control.

The queue stretched to Trinity Street but was definitely bearable – morale was kept high with gigantic bubbles and the most adorable barbershop group. The college itself was transformed into a vision of colour, with the kaleidoscopic theme being implemented immediately and without looking naff – it’s easy to go OTT with a theme so broad, but it was done tastefully and more on the side of subtlety.

Clare College lends itself perfectly to a ball like this – okay, it’s not massive like Trinity or John’s, but they utilised every space to great effect, with the ball spilling out into their many hidden gardens. We heard that the committee were going for a festival vibe, and it really worked, with the different stages pocketed about the courts and gardens. Nevertheless, there was a definite continuity linking the separate areas.

Entertainment-wise, Clare stayed away from the big name DJs and instead opted for a slight indie vibe with The Futureheads headlining, and King Charles and The Correspondents close behind. So we didn’t actually see the headliners (too busy silent discoing – guilty pleasure, sorry) but we heard good things, and, full of energy, King Charles filled the tent. There were some great local jazz bands and Cambridge staple Truly Medley Deeply kept everyone dancing. There was always something to dance to should the mood grab you, but there was so much other stuff (crazy golf, dodgems, oh-so-relaxing punting) to try out that it wasn’t always a priority.

Now, perhaps most importantly, food and drink – we can safely say we got our money’s worth in both respects. The kaleidoscopic theme worked especially well in this regard, with multi-coloured sparkling wine upon entrance, an opportunity to shot the skittles vodka rainbow and devour bright blue doughnuts, which were more appetising than they looked, fear not. Food choices were quite safe but tasty classics, only becoming a bit thin on the ground towards the end. Drinks, however, were flowing freely and continuously all evening, until you’d rather swap your mojito for a breakfast smoothie (or not, in some people’s case…).

All in all, Clare May Ball was a success. When you’re surrounded by great food, serious drinks and an unbeatable atmosphere, you’re bound to have a good time. Our only niggles were that things were packed away slightly early – the premature departure of the napping hammocks at 3am, when we most needed them, was particularly not appreciated. However, these are little things in a night that was so much fun and definitely one to remember (in a hungover, blurred, euphoric kind of way).

Food and Drink:


Wow Factor:


Value for Money:


Star Attraction: Great ents and atmosphere

Biggest Turn-Off: Extreme kaleidoscopic food not always a winner