Emmanuel College June Event 2014
WILL thinks Emma June Event’s vaguely-defined ‘Quest’ was just fine.
June 15th, £78.
It was hard to identify particular problems with this June Event. It was also hard to find anything to praise. The evening was, for £78, fine. Good enough. Adequate.
This is best demonstrated by the theme. ‘Quest’ is perhaps too broad and too indistinct an idea for an event like this; while the passport-style ticket-cum-information-leaflet was innovative and witty, what seemed at first to be a vaguely Arthurian theme with fairly impressive banners and smoke-breathing dragons in the first court soon devolved into a mess of bizarre papier-mâché astronauts and cardboard cut-out cowboys that wouldn’t look out of place in Whitby’s more depressing crazy golf courses.
It seemed like the committee was going for a kind of pastiche of potential May Ball themes—‘cowboys! Space! Knights! Pirates!’—but the whole idea was incoherent and unconvincing. There was too much empty space and not enough decoration. Emma’s underground tunnel, a distinctive and interesting part of the college’s architecture, ought to have been full of lighting effects and decoration to really give queuing guests the impression of going on a ‘quest’, but it was completely undecorated; the only remotely ‘western’ things decorating the event’s largest ‘Wild West’-themed space were the aforementioned cardboard cowboy and a few bales of hay.
The drinks were probably the best thing here: there were never any queues, and there was a pleasing variety of vaguely tropical cocktails—including surprisingly good alcoholic Calippo-style frozen mojitos and piña coladas from Mahiki. Less good was the aspirationally-named ‘wine tasting’, where we were served seemingly unremarkable wines in plastic tumblers. Although drinks seemed to be watered down in the night’s final stages (or perhaps the ice was simply melting?), this was, on balance, not an entirely bad thing. There was also no sparkling wine; after even last year’s much cheaper Catz June Event had a sparkling wine reception, the ‘Entry Shot’ we were given instead felt underwhelming, if actually not that unpleasant. Shots are for underage teens on their first night out at Tiger Tiger, not formal events.
Food was also thoroughly decent, with excellent chilli burgers and wood-fired pizza probably going down better than the tacos and paella, messy food best eaten sat down at an event with scarcely any seating. Queues moved swiftly: after waiting three hours for a ‘partridge burger’ at the Union Society Garden Party the day before, spending just 20 minutes in a pretty big pizza queue seemed almost too good to be true. The petulant committee member who, misunderstanding a comment I’d made to a friend, shrieked at me about how she was ‘running the show here’ while grabbing food ahead of me at the stall only added excitement to the experience.
Whoever Eliza and the Bear are, they played a sound if under-attended set. The ents were broadly done well, with the rodeo and water zorbing proving far more entertaining than they ought to have been, but there was not quite enough stuff to do to fill either the time or the large amounts of space the committee didn’t seem to know what to do with (or didn’t have the money to use properly). By 1.20 we could only sit around on cushions by the shisha for almost an hour until the closing ceilidh. As someone who absolutely loathes ceilidhs, there was little else for it after this point but to go and see Ted Hill’s stand-up set, which, in true May Week style, was watched by about 10 people and got absolutely no laughs.
This review might make it sound like I didn’t have any fun—I did have fun, but it was definitely qualified fun. The event was essentially just good enough. The committee got the basics right, but limp décor, too much empty space, and a post-one o’clock lull stopped the night from being as compelling as it might have been. While my gut feeling is that £78 was steep, it definitely didn’t feel £50 worse than a standard May Ball. Maybe it’s my own fault for not liking ceilidhs.
Food and Drink
Value for Money
Good, unusual alcohol