By Kate Dean
The end of exams is a blissful and memorable time in the Durham calendar with days of carefree relaxation punctuated by college events, none more memorable than college summer balls. This year, the Collingwood Summer Ball’s theme ‘A Night in Wonderland’ promised excitement, fun and originality – and it certainly delivered.
The meal and drinks reception took place in a huge marquee in the spacious grounds of the Hardwick Hall Hotel, just outside of Durham. Unfortunately, the ridiculously strong winds meant that the prospect of having a wander around the gardens wasn’t at all appealing. Some guests did, however, venture outside to take dramatically windswept pictures by the lake. The marquee itself was staggeringly decorated with enough tables to cater for around 700 people, made extra Wonderland-esque by the wind crazily swinging the walls and the chandeliers hanging from them. It’s a ‘wonder’ how the tent seemed far bigger on the inside and that everyone fitted inside! The detail on the tables was really where the Wonderland theme was pushed the most. As well as the typical card decorations, organisers had filled jars labelled ‘eat me’ with sweets and popcorn which provided a well-deserved pre-meal snack. I did feel like the Wonderland theme could have been taken to a further level throughout the night; however, by the time the meal was over and the bottle of wine was drunk the theme didn’t matter as much as just relaxing and enjoying the ents.
After the meal, celebrations were able to begin in true Collingwood style with a choice of three fairground rides and a lively dance floor. The rides were a great way to unwind after the meal, although combined with the bottle of wine made for an extreme level of dizziness at times. Having three rides meant that the queues were short and we could have as many turns on each ride as we wanted. The live music and DJ created and maintained a great atmosphere inside the hotel with a wide range of upbeat music catering to all musical tastes, filling up the dance floor up to one o’clock, when coaches arrived to continue the party at the college itself.
Back at college the celebrations continued with just as much enthusiasm, with weary partiers able to continue dancing at a silent disco in the JCR or just have a sit down (or a nap in some cases) in the Bailey Room. Domino’s pizza was provided to keep those determined enough to make it to the survivors’ breakfast fully fuelled. The presence of free pizza allegedly ‘turned people into animals’, but was wholly appreciated.
Overall, the night was fantastic and (to some) memorable. The Summer Ball Committee, led by Kathryn Pentland and Tammie Chung, did an incredible job organising an event that ran smoothly throughout. The night never failed to disappoint and was a great way to celebrate the end of exams in the college community!
Photograph: Tammie Chung