Hughes Hall May Ball 2013

JOEY AKUBEZE reports back on an enjoyable night, albeit one which didn’t quite live up to the theme (or the price-tag).

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Hughes Hall May Ball

A Red Carpet Affair

Saturday, 15th June, £89

hughes hall

Going to a ball at a smaller graduate college was never going to be an affair on the scale of grandeur that the average Mail reader— like myself— might associate with the opulence of May Week, and my expectations were adjusted accordingly.

Although extravagance is not all that is needed in putting on a good ball, feeling like the overall experience is worth the price of the ticket is. Despite its good points (and the positive aspects were surprisingly good) Hughes Hall’s ball this year did not seem to warrant the £89 charge.

This year’s theme ‘A Red Carpet Affair’ was always going to be difficult to achieve for a ball without a gargantuan budget and, ultimately, an “Oscar-like” atmosphere was not achieved. The committee did, however, make a good attempt to create that feel. On entering the ball we were welcomed with music skilfully played by the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, and it was little details like this where the “red carpet” feel came closest to being produced.

My favourite way in which they tried to realise the theme was the casino section. The Churchill Casino Society is amazingly professional, and they have fantastic equipment. The committee enhanced the extravagant feel of the casino by having the bar staff roam around and take drink orders from guests so that they didn’t have to take leave of the tense games of poker that were taking place. The “secondary school” style décor, on the other hand, did not help to generate a feel of opulence, and some ideas, such as the Shisha tent – which could fit no more than 15 people in it at a squeeze and felt like a glorified family camping tent – made me think that the committee would have had more success choosing a theme which did not fundamentally require bundles of cash to successfully actualise.

The main highlight of the ball was the live music. The Klezbians and Myles Sanko were particularly good. The latter drew in a large crowd and had them eating out of his hand. It was an example of how you don’t necessarily need a big name act in order for people to enjoy themselves. The Ceilidh, in theory, was a good idea and very popular – but it was also impractical given the size of the room in which it was held. Furthermore, some of the acoustic sets in the Shisha tent were more headache inducing than relaxing.

The most disappointing aspects on the music front however were both of the DJ sets for the two channels on the silent disco, which were a bit average. One of the channels featured music that could have rivalled some of Cindies’ DJs in its ‘uncoolness’.

Now for the food and drink. The drinks didn’t run out, but they weren’t particularly nice either. Thankfully the queuing time was at least, apart from in the main marquee, not too long. This was often not the case for the food. Part of the problem with the food was that there were at most two stalls open at the same time, which was not enough for the amount of people that wanted to eat for much of the ball. The meat also ran out a little too early at the BBQ.

The oysters were pretty good however. Not only did they not run out, despite their popularity there was practically no queue. While the queues were long for most of the savoury options, there was at least some variety. I wish the same were true for the sweet options. Apart from a few cadbury’s milk trays all they had was ice cream, which is obviously not enough to satisfy anyone’s excessive desire for all things sweet at balls.

The ball was by no means unenjoyable. There were many reasons as to why it was good, but not enough to justify the £89 price-tag. Had the price been around the £50/60 mark, £70 tops, then the Hughes Hall may ball committee would have done a good job providing what they did. But for £89 I expected more. Small college or not.

Food and Drink


Wow Factor


Value for Money


Biggest turnoff: Ice cream in the freezing cold

Best feature: The main live acts