Review: 2012 Graduation Ball at Oceana

Annie Mac smashed it, the Sabbs were simply smashed and everyone wanted to smash Pixie.

Pixie Lott might have been wearing too many clothes, but quality DJs and funfair rides made the 2012 Grad Ball blowout a truly sensational bash.

Walking into Oceana required rocking up a red carpet whilst being papped by photographers, which was pretty appropriate considering everybody apart from Chris ‘casual’ Stark was dressed up to the nines. The entire car park was occupied by a free mini funfair which included bumper cars, a penalty shoot-out and a couple of bone-shaking rides apparently designed to test post-pre-drink stomachs. All this was complimented by an assortment of decidedly unglamourous fast-food vans: inspired bookings, especially considering the 4AM finish time.

With the comedy starting first, the ground floor had a sophisticated lounge bar atmosphere that was marred only by an anonymous early chunderer who probably needed to be reminded that they weren’t in Bevois Valley. Upstairs in the Icehouse there was yet another team of photographers but the room itself didn’t look much different to a regular night, which was slightly disappointing as SUSU had promised to use the venue as an ’empty shell’, implying some sort of dramatic makeover.

To be fair, screens projecting footage from the stage and texts from the dancefloor had been wheeled in; these were full of ‘witty’ banterisms such as “82 Sirdar Road are dench” and “I just made out with someone on the dancefloor…I don’t know who you are, but I have your camera. You gave it to me. I’ve handed it in”.

Three rooms of entertainment meant that it was simply impossible to see all the acts, but billboards everywhere ensured that those who were still capable of reading knew what was going on. By the time Pixie Lott was due to appear the Icehouse had reached Jesters dancefloor density, and when she actually came out clad in a floral tablecloth the crowd – who by this point were mainly fuelled by a potent mix of taurine and testosterone – completely boiled over. Those close enough to the front might be able to verify the rumours of her miming the opener – whether this was the case or not, a sprinkling of covers meant that her set was generally enjoyable.

After this the evening everything started to get a little hazy, but most people should be able to remember dubstep queen Annie Mac coming very close to blowing the roof off with an exquisite cocktail of basslines. Yes, it was a performance that requires those sorts of wanky phrases.

Soton boy Jamie Ings had the final slot and rose to the challenge; all in all it was an absolute treat to be on a Baywatch-free, beats-heavy dancefloor. Reports from the other rooms suggest that Chesney Hawkes was either the best or worst thing ever, apparently ‘The One and Only’ got wheeled out twice which probably explains this division of opinion.

The word on the Hartley grapevine a few weeks ago was that there wouldn’t be enough tickets sold to pack out all the rooms simultaneously, which given the size of the venue (and the controversy surrounding it) was certainly a legitimate concern. On the night this was completely unfounded though – every corner seemed to be buzzing. The barstaff somehow managed to keep on top of the horde, but most of us could have done without the reminder of real-world drinks prices.

Despite a couple of dubious acts and an inescapable hint of dockyard-chic (shipping containers just over the fence from the venue provided a slightly grimey backdrop) The Tab reckon that SUSU can hold their heads high. This years Grad Ball was spectacular, memorable and further confirmation of the turnaround for Union events.