How to break into a May Ball – according to the people who’ve done it

Are the tickets really worth it?

| UPDATED Cambridge College jesus jesus may ball johns May Ball may ball break in May Week Sidney Sussex st. john's may ball Trinity

May week is the most anticipated time of a Cantab’s year: it’s the height of Cambridge’s social calendar.

Our lives become nocturnal, overdrafts are drained, and we do the best we can to spend the week drinking away our exam related regrets.

The decadence of the May Balls is certainly not to be missed, but they come at a hefty price, a price some dare-devils aren’t willing to pay. From tales of befriending security, to hiding in bushes or forging tickets, we spoke to the students who have broken into May Balls.

Some were more successful than others.

Trinity May Ball

“Me and my mate wore high-vis jackets and went through the main entrance carrying a large box, which had four other guys in tuxedos in it. We told the people working security that we had a parcel for the May Ball Committee’s President – you can find their name on the website. The bouncers let us through, we found a bush near the backs, took off our jackets and got our friends out the box. Voila, we crashed Trinity May Ball.

It made the food and drink taste even better knowing that our hard work had paid off.”


John’s May Ball

“John’s is a tricky one. They make the students vacate their rooms for the day and fences are everywhere. I know there are rumours of people swimming down the Cam with their clothes in plastic bags, but our method was a lot less glorified. We got into the Fellows’ Bowling Green in Trinity by jumping over a fence. There was a ladder that made it easy to climb over into John’s – the garden is directly next to a really low wall. In that area we found someone who showed us the wristbands. We went back the way we came and did the best job we could at replicating them (a quick Paint job). After printing them off, we got dressed into black tie and headed back in the same way.

It was a bit of a faff – it’s definitely not the slickest way to gatecrash. But you need the wristband to get between the courts because they check at each entrance.”

It’s worth it

St Catherine’s May Ball

“I didn’t really have a plan. I was just like, ‘gonna gatecrash the ball, YOLO’. I saw a gate, about two metres high, that I could climb over at the back of the college – the one into the master’s garden. There was an icecream stall about 10 metres in front of it – plus no guard. So I just hopped over the gate and walked past the icecream guy in black tie. I hung around there for a bit, because I didn’t want to risk being caught by a guard on the way into another court. But I still had a band from Trinity or somewhere, and casually shook my wrists at the guards.

It worked. I saw Ian McKellan. I stuck around for ages, met some friends inside, got lots of drinks. The funny bit was I didn’t know how to get out. I guess I could have just walked out of the plodge. But the way that I came in was closed. Eventually I got caught after someone looked closely at my wristband. I had a bit of banter with the security guard and they took me to the Head Porter who escorted me out. That was that. There were no repercussions. None at all.

So worth it. The ball itself was a bit shit, but it was really fun to gatecrash. Even when I got caught by security, they were very friendly.”


Sidney Sussex May Ball

“I was drunk and thought I’d try to break into Sidney Sussex. They had guards patrolling around the college so I waited for them to pass. I found a wall near the back of the college to climb over. I sat on top of the wall and some burly Slovakian security guard was outside the college. I was kind of caught as I couldn’t go into the college or run away on his side. He said, “I will get big plus for this”. I told him I was about to go to Slovakia, and then the porters took a photo of me and asked which college I went to. So I told them. They took my phone – and I was really drunk so I just gave it to them.

Then they told me I’d have to return tomorrow with £30 to get my phone back. I emailed my tutor, because they were trying to extort money from me. He emailed the Senior Tutor of Sidney and the next day I had to go see him to get my phone back. (Didn’t actually have to pay the £30, though.) The porters insisted I would be fined – but nothing ever came of it.”

Do you think they saw us?

Jesus May Ball

“All we had to do was hide in a bush. Jesus has plenty of them – we hid in a bush near the fun-fair area since midday, and that was it.”

Who knew gatecrashing could be so pretty

You probably won’t want to try these tactics this year. May Ball Committees, take note.

The Tab, let us reiterate, does not endorse breaking into May Balls. You can spend your time in better ways than being a pain to security.