By Sophie Bannister
Exams have finished and everybody’s assignments are finally in. Now there is only one problem that university students are facing; how should you celebrate the end of the academic year? The standard student night out isn’t memorable enough, and going for a meal is a bit of an anti-climax. Luckily for the students of Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences Faculty (HLSS), there is the End of Year Ball.
Although this is only the second year that it has taken place, the event is quickly becoming a well-established part of the faculty calendar. This year, it fell on the 30th May at the Palace Hotel – down the road from the university campus. Tutors and students of all years and every different discipline within the faculty donned their best dresses and black ties for the glamorous event. Upon entering the venue, guests were greeted by masquerade-inspired characters, teetering upon stilts. Through this welcome, the masked-ball theme of this year’s event was revealed. It was embellished further by costumed burlesque dancers, and by carnival masks at every place setting on the extravagantly laid round tables that filled the hotel’s Grand Room. Guests tried on their masks and admired the decorations as they waited for the event to formally get underway.
The evening began with a speech from the Dean of Faculty, Dr Sharon Handley, who welcomed everybody to the event, and spoke of the close ties of friendship that are prevalent between so many students and staff within the faculty. Sharon urged the students who are graduating to stay in touch as well as wishing everybody luck for the future and thanking the event organisers.
The speech finished and the night began. With a raffle, three-course meal, burlesque dancers, live band and multiple photo booths, the night was packed full of things to do and see. The entertainment on offer was endless, keeping everybody amused right up until the last minute.
Before the party got underway, the guests were treated to a delicious meal; the catering staff at the Palace Hotel really know their way around the kitchen! With tomato and basil soup for starters, a main course of beef brisket with dauphinoise potatoes, or gnocchi for vegetarians, and a light but tasty lemon tart for dessert – everybody was talking about the food. Sitting and eating around the table with friends was an excellent way to start the celebrations.
Once the guests were feeling a little less full (and that took a good while due to the sheer quantity of food eaten), it was time to start working the room. Groups of people queued to get pictures taken, with a choice between a professional photographer and a rather quirky photo booth, complete with fancy dress items. Meanwhile, others danced as the band, the Volantes, got underway. Well-known tunes by popular artists like Amy Winehouse, The Killers and Bon Jovi were belted out for the guests, who responded with some pretty varied dance moves. From ridiculous dad-dancing to some impressive Michael Jackson impersonations, everybody seemed to be in their element – even the tutors couldn’t resist the lure of a dance floor!
Soon enough, suit jackets were slung over the backs of chairs and heels were thrown under tables as everybody let their inner student out to party. It may have been a formal event but hey, let’s be serious, the formalities were never going to last the whole night. And really, it was better that way; the event represented perfectly what everybody had worked towards this academic year, blending the formal and serious side to university life with a chance for everybody to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements.
I caught Leonie Moore, who organised the Ball, towards the end of the night. The relief on her face spoke volumes for the event’s success, “Everybody seems to be happy,” she grinned, “It means it was all worth the effort.” I couldn’t agree more; the HLSS End of Year Ball was a brilliant night filled with memories that will not be forgotten lightly. It was the perfect way to celebrate the close of another academic year and, as the guests around me began to flock to Odder Bar across the road for the after party, they were only speaking of how successful the night had been. Hopefully this event will become a yearly tradition for the HLSS Faculty that will continue for many years to come.
Sophie Bannister is Co-chair of Manchester Metropolitan University’s English Society, where she is currently in her third year studying English Literature. She hopes to complete a Master’s degree after her time at MMU. You can view Sophie’s blog here and follow her on Twitter @SophieBan92