Pembroke May Ball 2013

Pembroke May Ball was the “quintessential May Week experience” for JOHN BARDSLEY.

Alcohol doughnuts everything everything party Pembroke Pembroke May Ball seafood

Pembroke May Ball

The Tempest

Wednesday 19th June, £120

After a night well-spent at a May Ball, writing a review can be a pretty fraught experience. Getting out of bed should prove to be a near impossible task if the Ball lived up to expectations. Perhaps the fact that I’m writing this under my duvet is proof alone that Pembroke May Ball was the biggest surprise of my May Week.

One thing nobody can take away from the college is its beauty. The courts were lit up in spectacular fashion and the ball looked as good as any I’ve ever been to. Real thought went into the positioning of tents and marquees so that they would complement the college, rather than impose on it. Whether or not the ball lived up to its challenging theme would probably be best judged by someone that knows more about Shakespeare, but all I know is that the ball treated its guests to a visual spectacular. The delicate touches meant that there was always more to discover – I particularly enjoyed the Tron-esque lasery guys walking around and the origami swans, made from pages of the Tempest, that were hanging delicately from the trees. All these fine details showed that a lot of effort had been put into giving the ball a slightly trippy, other-worldly buzz and its own unique character.

A vast array of food meant that most tastes were catered for: from the seafood bar to hog roast, and doughnuts to a chocolate covered banana extravaganza, Pembroke had it all. I heard a few rumblings about the barbeque running out of meat quite early on, but by then I had enjoyed Pembroke’s star attraction a bit too much to care.

And that star attraction was alcohol. At £120 a pop, guests should demand the right to get pretty wavy and on this front the committee delivered. Whilst some food ran a bit thin in the later hours, the booze just kept coming. I didn’t know where to look. The shot bar and the flashing jaeger tent proved popular, whilst the flowing champagne and tangy cocktails made sure a classy vibe still shone through, even if by the end some guests looked more black death than black tie.

Entertainment was once again fantastic – boredom was never on the cards. Video games and shisha for those that wanted to chill and the silent disco in old courts ensured few guests were ever seen wondering around aimlessly. The live music was brilliant – it was great to see the committee give a real platform for student talent. Green Street performed my favourite set of May Week and Everything Everything lived up to their billing – a class act. A minor gripe could be the headliner playing a bit early on, but as the night went on most people seemed to be enjoying the DJs spinning crowd pleasers.

I didn’t think a smaller college could hold its own alongside the big guns like Trinity and John’s, but I was wrong. Pembroke was an intimate event with real character and the college lends itself perfectly to balls. But most importantly, the ball was fun, something which the more pretentious events often forget about.

A quintessential May Week experience.

Food and Drink:


Wow Factor:


Value for money:


Star attraction: Great live music

Biggest Turn-Off: A slight balls-up in the queue meant lots of people had to wait ages to get in. Unlucky for some…