student life

The Summer Ball: Optional or worthwhile event?

Soon after you arrive as a bright-eyed fresher, people start to whisper about what happens at the end of the year at the Students’ Union.

Soon after you arrive as a bright-eyed fresher, people start to whisper about what happens at the end of the year at the Students’ Union. As soon as Freshers’ Week is over, the rumours of who could possibly be performing surface – who will be touring the university circuit this year. But is the Summer Ball really worth it?

The acts can be hit or miss

Depending on what size of uni you go to depends on what kind of acts you get. As a student in Wales we’ve seen a range of performers from the quintessential Welsh Feeder, whose explosive performances lit up our first year, to James Arthur who simply failed to strike a chord in third year.

All the while I hear tales of glee when others hear about who will be gracing the stages of the universities in the South of England. But even then it tends to be whoever would be preparing their comeback album or someone who hasn’t been as big for a while.

Summer Ball complacency

I opted not to go to my second year Summer Ball. I figured as a perpetual student, there would be other ways to spend £45 on an evening. From first year I knew that it would be a good night out but it didn’t quite have the same glistening appeal as it did originally and didn’t have the same finite air as third year.

The first time seemed like a good chance to enjoy what the uni had to offer, everyone gathering for the entertainment night of the year at the university, spread across two rooms and the uni quad, it was a chance to actually enjoy the building and not slump around between lectures and sleep.

Third year, however, was a different kettle of fish: it was a final chance before graduation to see everyone who I had spent the last three years with. It felt as though the Ball was aimed as a final, grandioso way to bow out of the student lifestyle.

A break from the norm

So you might still be thinking “well you can have a night out anyway?” That may be true, but the Summer Ball can also act as a one-off, it seems more special than heading to the same collection of pubs and clubs that you have been gracing for the last three years.

Also, depending on what your university does it can be almost entirely different. We had a free casino in my first year where you could gamble guilt-free to your heart’s content, a fairground in my third year where you could ride a Ferris Wheel whilst listening to an Oasis tribute band (if Wretch 32 wasn’t to your taste).

It was more of an occasion for us as well, it wasn’t just the University that embraced the event but the whole city seemed to understand that it was “Summer Ball day”: pubs applied for late licences and cafés opened at 4am so you could stroll out to have breakfast. It was as necessary as the first beer after dissertation hand-in day.

Still not for you?

If the Summer Ball still doesn’t seem like your cup of tea then never fear, that’s no problem because you’ll probably find a few likeminded people around. There might be an Alternate Summer Ball (there was at mine) for people who objected to the high price or the performers. Let’s face it, £45 is a lot for a student to pay for acts the organisers think you might like.

What is the end of year ball like at your University? Will you be going this year? Comment below and join the conversation!

Image: Yen Chau, ucluphotosoc / Flickr