Catz Ball!

This has been a week of glorious insanity.  The Catz Ball was this past weekend (more on that below), multiple nights this week I saw 3 am whilst working on essays, my friends and I celebrated a friend’s birthday today, AND this week I saw Stephen Fry(!!!!!).  But things are now settling back to normal and I now have a bit of time to write blog.

Oxford students, like most college students in my experience, like to work hard and play hard.  The workload here is intense, and I have spent more nights up working on essays into the wee hours of the morning than I would care to admit.  That being said, when it comes time to party, Oxford does it right.  Most colleges have regular bops or ‘entzes’ (in-college ‘fancy dress’/costume parties), where people will dress up and dance the night away in the JCR (the college lounge and bar).  However, there is one extravaganza that only comes to each college once every three years:  the college ball.  For my fellow visiting student friends and me, we lucked out, for this year was the year of St. Catherine’s ball.

Apparently, St. Catherine’s College is rather famous in Oxford for hosting the largest of the college balls, and this year was the largest one they had ever hosted with over 2,000 attendees.  Fortunately St. Catz also hosts one of the cheapest balls at the still-hefty price of 81 pounds sterling per head, with an additional 40 pounds if you would like to partake of a five-course banquet beforehand.  I chose to pass on that option, seeing as included in the ball price already were all-you-can-eat noodles, burritos, exotic burgers (kangaroo and zebra!), doughnuts, cotton candy, and candy galore.  There was more than enough food to go around.  The ticket price also included a budgeted 21 UK units of alcohol PER PERSON (I didn’t come close to even drinking half of my allotted 21, thankfully).  Additionally, there were two photo booths, wandering performers, carnival games, and Laser Quest(!).  St. Catherine’s truly pulled out all the stops.

The ball began at 8:30pm on Saturday night.  The dress code was black tie, so my friends and I spent about an hour getting ready beforehand, including me making at least three attempts before finally managing to tie my bow tie.  After some group photos taken in our staircase, we headed out to the ball.  Luckily, as Catz students, we were able to skip the queue and walk right in as soon as the gates opened (although a couple of my friends bought early entry tickets, and got in a half-hour sooner).  When we walked in, the first thing we were greeted by was a champagne bar covered in glasses that were filled to the brim.  My friends and I made a beeline for the noodle bar to beat the rush, and spent about an hour hanging out, eating, and chatting before venturing our way to the queue for the exotic burgers.  I was definitely a little apprehensive, but my kangaroo burger was absolutely delicious (a bit gamey, and very juicy).  Afterwards, we met up with another group of my friends in the JCR and relaxed, I enjoyed a glass of wine, and we had fun making ridiculous faces in one of the photo booths.

By that time, one of the headliners was about to take the stage, so we made our way back into the heart of the sea of marquees (the entire quad had been covered with giant tents for the ball).  The first act was Swing Republic, a group consisting of an amazing jazz singer and her backup DJ.  We danced through her entire set and had a blast, also admiring an older couple (at least in their sixties) dancing together sweetly in the corner away from the crowds.  After that, we took a bit of break to go outside to relax and cool off for a little bit.  A few friends had bought Cuban cigars to try, and they took the opportunity to light them.  (I admit that I had a puff of my roommate’s cigar, and it was probably enough to last me quite some time).  The amusing part for me was none of us are actual smokers, and the most anyone got through of their cigar was about a third before handing it off to someone else.

After our adventure with the Cubans, we rejoined the dance floor for the main headliner:  the Other Tribe, a funk/ disco group.  By the time they finished their fantastic performance, it was 3am and time for the silent disco.  I lasted about another half-hour, and then it was time for me to head back to my room and collapse.  I slept most of the next morning away, and unashamedly took an afternoon nap later.  I was utterly exhausted, but I knew it was entirely worth it.  The memories from that night will last me a lifetime.

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