Why a budget night in Brixton was better than the UCL Ball

It’s sentimental, but shit

The end of the year at uni brings great cause to celebrate. Freshers have been through the various trials and tribulations of first year, settling in and finding their feet while final years are finishing up, coming to terms with realising they haven’t yet found themselves.

So how is best to round off this turbulent journey of highs and lows, the rollercoaster ride that is coming of age, the clichéd “student experience”? Everybody’s Facebook newsfeed has been offering a veritable feast of events promising to end this year with a bang.

The UCL Prohibition ball has been hot on the agenda for a while, but at over £30 a ticket, was it worth it?

We pitted the Ball against a budget contender, occurring on the same night, in a bid to prove that you can smash it, even if your carriage is a pumpkin (or the Victoria line).

UCL Summer Ball

Event: UCLU Prohibition Ball

Venue: UCL Quad

Start and Finish Time: 20:00-02:00

Dress Code: 1920s Prohibition Theme (although not many stuck to it).

Accessories: Diamantes, clutches and other necessary ball bling.


much organised fun

Pre drinks: The traditional pre-prom-style group prep, with an abundance of gin to alleviate the stress of winning some mirror time.


This is how cramped we were

Money spent: A girthy £36-£50 excluding drinks inside and outfits.

Highlight: The lifesaver slippers handed out at the end for high-heel- mangled trench feet.

Low point: Queuing for the ferris wheel in the rain, and losing toenails in the unwavering warfare between looking good and pain.

Expectations vs Reality: Considering that the UCL Fresher’s Ball at the beginning of the year turned out to be a pretty average night out at Ministry, an Uber ride of two minutes to Gower Street in style seems more promising.

The 1920’s theme had everybody buzzing with expectations of Great Gatsby style celebrations. But it was less Leonardo Di Caprio, more Leonardo Di CapriNo.The prohibition themed entertainment seemed non-existent.

Then again, the drinks were relatively thrifty and a cat fight between two girls on the dancefloor was quite a sight, so all in all it was at least a memorable night.


The Young Pretender

Event: Shabba Brixton Carnival Party

Venue: Brixton Jamm

Start and Finish Time: 14:00-04:00 (that’s averaging at less than 40p per hour of celebration).

Dress Code: w4vey [email protected] Cheap as chips: grandparent’s hand-me-downs will do, or grab some at 50p a piece from East End thrift shop.


Beats a gown

Accessories: Bubbles and glitter. Excessive amount of bindis. The comfier the footwear the better.



Pre drinks: Drinking a pre-mixed 2l of vodka and lemonade on the tube ride over

Money spent: £5 ticket, £5 on travel, not more than £25 total.

Highlight: The music and the people. The light display was also pretty mesmerising.


Low point: The weather inevitably dampened the Caribbean theme a little. And multiple buses back from Brixton is not exactly preferable.

Expectations vs Reality: It was no Notting Hill Carnival: there was no parading through the streets. But there was jerk chicken and free hair braiding. Besides, at £5 a ticket, there’s no need to have huge expectations, the night is always going to exceed them.



Overall verdict: If you’re in third year, go to the Ball. It’s perfect for the sentimental value of photos (although they will set you back £15 for a digital download), the final night with uni chums, and having a valid excuse to chunder in the quad.

But before the nostalgia sets in the ball might be a little anti-climactic. Save the money and go on a cheap and cheerful night out in South London. If you’ve already invested in a gown, throw some glitter over it, rip it a bit and wear it anyway, you’ll be the belle of the Carnival.

In any case, there’s no better way to feel like you’ve truly smashed the ‘unay’ agenda than feebly sipping coffee and swapping stories of your respective nights the next day. Throw on some hippy pants and a frown and no one will know you from the next hungover student, regardless of how much you forked out on the night before.