Clare May Ball 2014

HARRY SHUKMAN and FRANCESCA EBEL were delighted by Clare’s magical, primordial adventure.

Clare college Cambridge Clare May Ball 2014 Ella Eyre Cambridge Francesca Ebel harry shukman Laurie Lewis and The Fat Cats may ball review May Week Cambridge Pendulum Cambridge S Club 3 Cambridge

What’s Clare May Ball in a word? Diversification.

List everything you enjoyed at Clare last night and you will still have missed out on half of the programme. As a small college with hidden courts, Clare is perfectly formed to host one of the best nights of May Week. And my Christ, it was fantastic.

Last night we ran wild through Primordial, a beautifully planned event that made amazing use of the college. The organisers managed to pack in a helter skelter, dodgems, ice sculptures, a silent disco, and actual dinosaurs. Tearing about, we enjoyed CocktailBox drinks mixed with flair in the Master’s Garden, shisha puffed in the idyllic Sunken Garden, and insect jelly shots in the Small Hall (which didn’t go down without a fight).

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The ball was an adventure. Every court, garden, and path had something new to discover: Stilton ice cream on the bridge, rocket fuel G and Ts by the river blended by the Cambridge Distillery specially for the night, and wraps from Baba G’s Bhangra Bus delicious enough to reaffirm your faith in God.

Much of the hype of Clare’s night came from the acts. Kicking off the night was S Club 3. Bradley, Jo and Paul screamed  “Who’s ready to go back to 1998?” – oblivious to the fact that the 21 year old students watching were  only five in those halcyon days. Sixteen years have passed and the shirts are tighter, the moves are rustier, but hands are still reaching for stars – higher than ever.

Back in the 21st Century, huge crowds came for main stage acts Ella Eyre, Swiss Lips, and a Pendulum DJ set, along with May Ball regulars Denim and Truly Medley Deeply.

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A swipe could be made at the bridge that was blocked by a clash between headline act Ella Eyre and the Trinity Fireworks; luckily this didn’t seem to last for long.

Be sure to catch reggae and ska band Laurie Lewis and the Fat Cats this May Week, who make the audacious but evident claim that the spirit of Bob Marley himself lives on in Laurie Lewis. Lewis, 23, and his band caused a stir on the Old Court stage when lead singer Jess O’Driscoll Breen sneaked a snog with our reviewer Francesca.

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Hidden gems were to be found throughout the night: Jaegerbombs in Clare Cellars and the silent disco in the Great Hall are expected at balls but always appreciated. One of our favourite moments of last night was on the HMCMB stage, stumbling over at 3:30 to find a frantic and shirtless Half Crown. Their act was so manic that security shut them down when frontman Louie called on his audience to join him on stage. Undeterred by having their equipment unplugged, they launched into energetic a cappella.

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Sadly, the healing space of the butterfly tent became bitter when drunken revellers took the Primordial theme too far and mishandled the poor fragile beauties with aggressive curiosity, like a wankered Lennie from Of Mice and Men (eat it, Gove).

At this point, our energy was flagging but the queue for breakfast stretched out of the Scholar’s Garden back into Old Court. We saw the rest of the night through to the morning’s samba band in a happy but hungry haze.

We had a blast at Clare May Ball. Had the organisation been a little tighter, it would have made for a flawless evening that flowed from one surprise to the next.