I mentioned previously my experience at Churchill's Spring Ball. Now (in mid June) it is the real May Week as undergrads have finished final exams and there is a week of celebrations and parties to wrap up the academic year. Many of the colleges, including most of the big ones, hold May Balls this week, which are a bit hard to describe but are essentially like a mixture of a wedding, a royal ball, and the US concept of "Grad Night" after high school graduations. They key ingredients are black tie dress, tons of live music and unlimited food/drink, activities, and shows, lasting until 6 am. Here I am posing with Jess, my date to the Clare May Ball, with the river cam in the background.
We went with a small group, as seen above, and the first part of a ball is, per tradition, queuing, although it started raining this year during the queuing and people got a bit testy. Once inside they had an admirable collection of free food and lots of musical acts, plus some nice activities we tried like a giant swing set, fire dancers, ballroom dancing lessons, ceilidh dancing, and punting on the river cam. There was also a spectacular fireworks show, although it was put on by Trinity's ball which was going on right next door, but everybody still stopped and watched.
The nicest part was probably the beautiful location at Clare, which is one of the nicest colleges and probably has the best gardens. You can see above us relaxing in the Clare Gardens, lit up in many beautiful colors for the night, they turned this section into a hookah bar. Not for me, but I enjoyed the setting a lot. I enjoyed the ball as well, it was nice to get to go to at least one to see what the tradition is all about. Some friends go to 3 or 4 balls throughout the week, which is quite impressive as they cost over 100 pounds each and last from about 9 pm until 6 am. I was satisfied just fine with Clare for this year.