By Anna McAlpine (Visiting Student – Departments at Trinity: School of English – Home Institution: St. Andrews, English Literature and Philosophy MA (Hons))
After deciding to study abroad at Trinity, I read up on all of the fun things to do on campus and there was one event that made it to the top of my list – Trinity Ball. I knew from the start of my semester here that I had to get a ticket. After countless attempts to purchase them online from the crashed website, one missed bus and a sprint to class later, I managed to get my hands on one. At my home university we regularly hold balls and formal events, however, there was a frisson of excitement around Trinity Ball as it is heralded ‘Europe’s largest open air private party’ – quite the claim!
Donning my gown, and with my tickets and friends at the ready, I made my way to campus and it was far from the usual journey. After alighting at College Green, stepping onto the streets you could tell that this was not a usual Friday night in Dublin. On a usual weekend night you may expect to feel a buzz about the city centre fuelled by alcohol and dubious clubbing outfits. However, Trinity students had taken over the town in their finery – everywhere you looked you could spot those destined for the ball.
Once inside the beauty of Trinity, its history appeared to have been magnified since I last stepped into front square just five hours earlier. The campus buildings were lit up with swirling coloured lights and marquees had been erected on every grass quadrangle. Having looked at pictures from Trinity Ball from a bygone era and comparing it to the modern day, it was interesting to draw comparisons between the two. The boys looked much the same in their tuxedos and although the girls fashion options had changed a lot, you could still see the effort that people had made. It is great to see the university keeping up this tradition.
Above: Smash Hits performing in the Front Square of Trinity College Dublin
On the matter of dressing, arguably the ‘black tie’ dress code was not stringently adhered to. As with most things I have encountered during my time at Trinity, it seems that a concept one may take for granted is normally given quite a large leeway for creative interpretation. Whilst some attendees looked dressed to the letter of black tie apparel, others had adapted it to their own tastes, or ignored it all together. For girls, the sartorial choices ranged from full-length gowns to a mini skirt and trainers. My advice for future students attending the event would be to allow your own personal style to shine through at this event, as the dress is code is really what you make it.
Perhaps the most striking element of the ball was the fact that it does not feel like a ball at all. In fact, it much more closely resembles a fancy music festival. The tents are dotted around campus, each hosting a different type of music to ensure there is something for everyone. There is also lots of different food vans to stave off those midnight snack cravings. There was also a lot of mud and a lot of alcohol. Essentially, the ball contained all of the elements that you would expect of a weekend festival, just condensed into one night and situated in the middle of a university campus. The one downside (as with all music festivals) was that the portaloos were the only toilets available on the night.
The best act of the night had to be headliners, The Kooks, for bringing in the night with strong nostalgic vibes. With each new song that was played you could hear echoes around the tent of “ah I haven’t heard this in years” – it certainly brought a lot of us back to our teenage years. The energy of the set was fantastic and the crowd swayed and screamed – all jostling to get a front row position.
Above: The Kooks perform all their hits at the Trinity Ball
Overall, the event was a huge success and everyone that I spoke to about it thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It is certainly a great way to celebrate the end of semester, and for Erasmus students, like myself, it was a lovely way to mark the end of my teaching at Trinity. It was great to enjoy a little time off – it is definitely an event I would recommend that all students try and get a ticket to. It is a great way to have one last party before the exam season begins.
Above: The Dance Tent at the Trinity Ball