Preview: Opening Ball

The Stand interviews Fernando Maluf, Opening Ball convenor, about the Kate Kennedy Club’s upcoming charity ball.

Interview Kate Kennedy Club Lower College Lawn Opening Ball Preview

The art of socialising is deeply entrenched in St Andrews’ culture. Every weekend we can expect our newsfeeds to come alive with the name of the latest ball or festival, and wristbands are just as common an accessory as hats or scarves. It is true to the roots of the town, therefore, that our first years are welcomed to university each year with a ball. The convenor of this year’s Opening Ball, Fernando Maluf, was kind enough to sit down with the Stand for an interview, giving us a glimpse of the night to come and providing a behind-the-scenes look at the planning process.

Development for the ball began as early as last year, when Fernando was elected ball convenor at the Kate Kennedy Club’s AGM following a gruelling three hour debate between the four candidates. Since his election, he has been working closely with Chris Kunkler (KK president and former Opening Ball convenor) and Cyrus Danesh (another prior Opening Ball convenor and convenor of this past year’s May Ball), necessitating cross-continental communication as he organised the event from Brazil. Fernando’s duties range from booking acts to arranging the set up of the venue to delegating tasks amongst the rest of the Club, all of whom will be assisting him on the night of the ball.

Although only a second year himself, Fernando appears to understand exactly what makes Opening Ball such a unique event: For many freshers, this will be their first night truly experiencing St Andrews. On the historic Lower College Lawn in the shadow of St Salvatore’s Chapel, they will be greeted with the traditional champagne reception on their way into the venue, which has been arranged with a focus on as much efficiency as possible. An L-shaped bar, as opposed to last year’s straight bar, will reduce time spent queuing and ensure quicker service, while the stage itself will be arranged perpendicular to the bar to allow for more space. Outside, a 9×9 tent will be erected for people who prefer a more crowded, tight-knit environment, while the outdoor area will offer seating and a quieter atmosphere for those who wish to enjoy their drinks and catch their breath.

The night will also serve as the freshers’ introduction to some of our best local DJs: Ashton Squires, FLO, and Joe Jones will all be playing sets. Further entertainment will be found in the form of photobooths, live bands, and fireworks. Guests can likely look forward to complimentary cotton candy, a frequent appearance at St Andrean events, to go along with that free flute of champagne.

With about 1000 guests in attendance, the ball will easily breakeven, allowing for a sizeable donation to charity at the year’s end. Currently, the KK is partnered with Families First, Unite Against Cancer, Home-start, and Children First. Club members have also worked with the Cosmos Community Centre, volunteering in their garden twice last year and entertaining the children in full procession regalia. As the 90th procession approaches this April, the club hopes to secure enough sponsors to raise more funds than in previous years, increasing the size of the already massive event.

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The KK volunteers at the Cosmos Community Centre garden. Photos supplied by Fernando Maluf.

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The hype surrounding Opening Ball may be daunting for some, but Fernando takes it in stride. He can be found as early as 9am nearly every morning selling tickets – including, impressively, the morning after Starfields. On the few occasions that he cannot be spotted behind the table, he will instead be in the midst of a meeting or an interview promoting the ball. When he describes his workload, however, it seems not like a full-time job but rather a passion project: Enthusiastic and confident, Fernando seems to thrive on the commitment, happy to channel all of his energy into welcoming the freshers to St Andrews. By the end of the interview, I was fully convinced that the ball could not be in better hands.

Opening Ball will be held on Saturday, 3 October. Tickets are still available for £35 and can be bought online or in person.