'Turning the campus into a festival site never loses its novelty'

Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 01:00

ONE’S LAST Trinity Ball brings an odd cocktail of emotions (not to mention drinks). The will to make the most of it and enjoy the celebrations is interrupted by a constantly lingering awareness of the momentousness of the occasion; the culmination of an important four years and the end of a formative era.

6.00: First stop is Clare Harrington’s house in Portobello where I meet friends for a drink and photographs by the fire before going by Luas to Ranelagh.

7.40: In Ryan Kenny’s back garden girls tell each other they look fantastic. Though, I notice that, four years on, they seem to have given in to pragmatic, cobblestone-conscious footwear.

8.00: In the kitchen, Ryan’s mum serves plates of chilli with the efficiency of a military operation to line all those empty stomachs.

8.20: As a photo is taken of the 80 or so of us in the garden, that momentous feeling hits me again.

8.30: The group photograph marked a turning point in the night. The pleasantries ended and the dancing began to the beats of Azealia Banks’ 212.

9.00: Four of us go to another “pre-drinks” at Rachel Murray’s house in Foxrock. Rachel knows how to throw a good party and the merriment and drinking are well under way when we arrive.

11.10: My romantic muse on the grandeur of the entrance through Front Arch to the illuminated Parliament Square is mooted as we’re frisked by security. Shops will have recorded a peak in Capri-Sun sales this week. This has little to do with the tangy orange beverage, and everything to do with the screw-top, easily concealable foil containers.

11.20: Beneath the iconic campanile, Trinity Orchestra is mid-way through its two-hour performance. The orchestra has gained a strong following over the past two years for its adaptations of pop music from Daft Punk to Arcade Fire and tonight the inimitable Aaron Heffernan is taking on Stevie Wonder.

12.00: The transformation of the campus into a temporary festival site never loses its novelty. Fences encircle everything and anything that could be damaged, moved or scaled. I bump into Danny from The Coronas who is running to the main stage, having been added to the bill after last-minute cancellations by Marina the Diamonds and Labrinth.

1.00: In the dance tent Mmoths takes to the stage.

2.30: The crowd is boisterous as Professor Green hops around the stage. He laughs at how much fun it is, a refreshing change from Jessie J’s controversial scolding of revellers last year.

4.30: Fake Blood are the last act in the dance tent. We straggle until the end and I notice a girl I’ve seen around all year. This is my moment. I attempt to make conversation. I fail spectacularly. I can’t believe how quickly the night has passed, and I really don’t want it to end here and now.

6.00: It didn’t. It ended an hour and a half later in McDonald’s, as weary heads sank into folded arms. How the mighty had fallen.

We can always return as alumni, but this was our last ball as undergraduates. Never again would all of these familiar faces and friends be together like this. But the 53rd ball will always have been ours, even when the photos are faded to mementos of another time. You stay classy, Trinity.

Cyril Byrne’s audio slideshow is on irishtimes.com/slideshows

Numbers up on last year as revellers stream in

SOME 6,000 students swarmed the Belfield athletics track for the annual UCD Ball. This marked a large increase in attendance from last year’s event, which was first cancelled and then postponed for two days over a dispute with university authorities about campus access.

This year’s ball was declared “a great success” by the organiser, UCD student union entertainments officer Stephen Darcy.

He said, “I am absolutely delighted with the way things went, and it was a great way to end the year for UCD Ents.”

Performing at the event were acts such as Professor Green, Jack Beats, and the Streets’ Mike Skinner, with the likes of The Saw Doctors, Royseven, and The Original Rudeboys providing an Irish contingent.

The attendance at the ball on Friday night was up significantly on the estimated 3,500 who went last year. That event ran into conflict over a licensing agreement.

This upswing brings an increased amount of competition with Trinity College Dublin, which held its ball on the same night (see left).

On the comparisons between the rival university bashes, Darcy said, “ absolutely competed, for half the price. We had acts that were arguably as good in quality.

“I know Trinity had a little bit of a hiccup the day before the event, which only strengthened our line-up in relative terms.

“I think this year’s UCD Ball was as good as the Trinity Ball, definitely.”

The gates to the UCD Ball, which was billed as “Europe’s biggest private party”, opened at 3pm, with the festivities coming to a close just before the noise curfew at 11pm.

When asked for a personal highlight of the mini-festival, Darcy said, “It was great to see the Saw Doctors playing to 6,000 people in UCD.” JON HOZIER-BYRNE