By Mia Gray
There was a lot of disappointment when the Oxford balls were cancelled due to the pandemic. A lot of hard work was put into organising them, from commemoration balls to those held by small societies. 2022 will hopefully be the year that they get to go ahead, continuing one of Oxford’s most loved traditions- to have an all-night party, with endless food and open bars!
College black tie nights are held at various points throughout the year but some colleges hold balls that are hosted once every three years on rotation and Commemoration balls for big anniversaries. And 2022 is the year for a lot of them: St Catherine’s, Mansfield, Brasenose, Lady Margaret Hall, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda’s, Christ Church, University College, Wadham, New College, Green Templeton and a joint Somerville ball with Jesus College! These are all lavish events to look forward to, with themes from ‘Eclipse’, a night of stars and horoscopes to ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz’, a night of elegance and glamour. Tickets tend to sell out quickly because they’re all so popular, with each holding unique entertainment from fairground rides to celebrity performances! Students and alumni from the colleges usually get discounted tickets and are offered extra for guests.
If you do miss out on college ball tickets though, a lot of societies host their own so there is never a shortage of events. The Oxford Union and Oxford Law Society hold balls each term, in the union grounds and at venues outside of Oxford respectively. Some Law Soc balls have been in venues from the Roman baths to the Natural History Museum in London. Oxford RAG, the student fundraising group, also host exciting balls, where people can donate to the elected charities. And at the end of this month, there is a Diwali Ball, that is set to transform The King’s Centre in Oxford into a festival of lights, Bollywood music, Indian food and live performances!
Of course, the price of all of these amazing events is worrying for a lot of us and a bit of a stretch for student budgets. A lot of these balls therefore offer the option to work for half the night, so you can get half of your ticket paid for. Students can also work for the whole ball and save this money to pay for one of the other balls on offer later in the year. Some of the Commemoration balls even have ‘access tickets’ to make sure everyone can attend if they want to, selling some tickets at half price. Or you can get involved in ball committees, which can be really fun, great for CVs and you might get a free ticket for all of your help!
The price of evening gowns, jumpsuits, tuxedos and all the accessories that come with them doesn’t have to be a worry either. There’s the obvious solution of buying one outfit to wear again and again or buying second hand clothes from charity shops. Or you could dress swap. Whether that’s just with your friends or with an Oxford group. A lot of colleges have their own system of sustainable fashion, such as ‘Catz Garm Farm’. Keep an eye out for platforms like OxSwap and various events held across Oxford where you can try on outfits to borrow for a ball. Saving your student bank and the planet at the same time, what’s not to love.
Here’s to a new year of hopefully staying safe, and also celebrating missed opportunities in style.