Caius May Ball 2014

CLAUDIA LEONG thoroughly enjoyed her evening at Caius, which seemed to end all too soon.

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I had high expectations coming into Caius May Ball, given all the buzz that had surrounded it, and the night definitely delivered on them.

From the plentiful champagne timed for arrival and departure, to the thoughtfully laid out umbrellas to shield party-goers from the sporadic drizzle throughout the night, the event was slickly run and thoroughly enjoyable. And on the topic of alcohol, with unusual and varied cocktails available throughout the night in all courts, including at a fancy bar carved out of ice in the Master’s Garden, and whisky and port tastings at other intervals, there were few complaints to be made. The only criticism, perhaps, was that the beer provided by the Real Ale Society was left in plastic cups to be rained on for several hours– and who wants to drink that?

It would not be hyperbole to say that Caius probably laid on the most extravagant and delicious spread out of any May Ball this year, ironic given the food that the college typically subjects its members to in hall. It would have been impossible to sample everything on offer, despite the short queues, because there was just so much of it. In Tree Court alone, there was a dizzying selection: exotic springbok and kangaroo burgers, freshly fried churros, pulled pork that was as succulent as advertised, chocolate dipped fruit, and a wide range of gelato flavours to choose from were just some of the delights available throughout the evening. In Gonville Court, an obscenely large quantity of the college’s famed Daim Bar Pie (widely known as the only food that Caius do right) was available, with vegetable samosas, smoked salmon, and other nibbles also on hand to satiate even the most greedy appetites. One of the rooms I wandered in near the college’s hall contained more pate and cheese per square metre than any other room I’ve ever been in.

Despite the college’s small size, a wide range of activities were on hand to keep students entertained, which meant short queues and happy students. The gyroscope was an exciting, if surprisingly unpopular ride that fit well with the theme, and the fortune telling and “Victorian” shoe-shining services were a subtle and clever nod to the motif of time-travel described in the May Ball passport provided upon arrival. The classic arcade games in the JCR, and the smoothly run Churchill Casino were also popular with ball-goers, while shisha in the Master’s Garden, predictably, was also a big hit. Rumour has it that Stephen Hawking, who was sighted whizzing around the college throughout the evening, was briefly trapped in the “Science Dome” planetarium set up in Tree Court– his worst nightmare, perhaps, given that most people seemed to use the tent as a place to sleep off alcohol induced drowsiness. Although there was a brief lull at 11pm, when everyone paused what they were doing to ooh and aah over the fireworks display put on by Johns, I very much doubt that anybody seriously envied what was going on next door.

The main acts in the marquis in Caius Court were warmly received, with AlunaGeorge and Duke Dumont drawing an enthusiastic crowd, and ball attendees mostly forgiving the latter’s delayed arrival on the stage. Student performances were also popular, with May Ball favourites like the King’s Men and Green Street drawing huge cheers. The fact that so many acts were scheduled throughout the night meant that it was almost impossible to be bored, with one student band in Tree Court (the name of which escapes my memory at this point) performing right up until literally the very last minute before the Survivor’s Photo.

The rainy weather that greeted us as we emerged from the college did nothing to dampen the mood, and the relatively early end to the ball also meant that there was no need for students to fear being caught staggering home by Daily Mail photographers. Caius may be small, but the ball was a big, ambitious event that the committee pulled off with aplomb.