Review: Newnham June Event

ALASDAIR PAL: ‘Newnham got the Big Decisions right: a well-executed theme over a big headline act; plentiful drink over quality and outrageous queues; and the ability to get a square foot of henna inked across your face.’

Click on the links for our coverage of Tuesday nights other balls: CaiusJohn's and Christ's

And so off we rode, on the Uni 4, into the unknown. Would Newnham be able to manage the step up from garden party to June Event? Would they succeed in delivering an event with more than a cursory nod to the theme, a problem for even the most lavish balls? And more importantly, would we ever get out alive? The answer, unsurprisingly, was that Newnham delivered a very mixed, but ultimately satisfying bag, in the difficult Tuesday slot.

The aim for Cirque du Soir, surely, in a price bracket competing directly with bigger and longer Robinson, was to execute something small but perfectly formed; a cheeky antidote to May Balls plagued by the 4am lull. 

And in terms of vision, the committee had it almost perfectly right. The circus big-top main stage was an inspired choice, stuffed with unicyclists and clowns, and later on storming performances from the consistently excellent EllaFunks and Truly Medley Deeply, who have both been lighting up May Week. Perhaps even more impressive though, was the outdoor performance area, with belly dancers, trapeze, and a Chinese lion on rotation throughout the night. There were a few dicey moments – one juggler repeatedly dropped his balls, as the throng winced and squeezed their plastic cups – but hardly the fault of the committee, after all. Newnham also boasted a ferris wheel and dodgems, something which lavish big-spenders Jesus, running an identical theme, failed to achieve.

The execution, however, at times left a little to be desired. Food and drink, other than the fantastic bacon burgers, was adequate but unimaginative. Cirque du Soir suffered from The Pimms Problem in a big way: the degeneration from crisp fruity punch at 8pm to murky dishwater a few hours later was worse than most. The cocktails, including Classic Mohito and Elderflower Collins, were a good idea on paper, but poured straight from a pre-mixed bottle, resembled over-sweet VK, leaving those with less developed will-power clutching aching stomachs. 

The Ringmaster’s tent, other than for the excellent salsa lessons, remained mainly empty all night, leaving the Honky Tonk DJs from Soul Tree’s Cindies alternative spinning to an empty chequerboard. Nothing new there then, ho ha. 

“Only in Cambridge would everyone go and listen to a shitty cover band over decent music”, said one disgruntled committee member; although in their defence, Killers tribute act The Fillers look like them and everything. 

But in the main, Newnham got the Big Decisions right: a well-executed theme over a big headline act; plentiful drink over quality and outrageous queues; and the ability to get a square foot of henna inked across your face. Although in retrospect, that was perhaps a bad idea.   

Food and Drink: 

Wow Factor: 

Value for Money:

Star Attraction: Ferris Wheel and Dodgems 

Biggest Turn Off: Unimaginative Food and Drink