CONNOR WILLMINGTON-HOLMES reviews the biennial bedlam of Fitz’ Winter Ball.
Fitz’ Winter Ball rolls around once every two years, so when it does, you can expect something special.
Inspired by the Roman festival of Saturnalia, revelry and reversal came aplenty.
On entry, the diners were shown to the Forum and provided with a heathy flow of bubbly. Next we descended on the main hall, where Saturn himself hung above. Food was served to the theme: a savoury ‘Cake and Tea’ for starters threw some guests; the dessert’s ‘Eggs on Toast’ comprised cleverly masquerading brioche and clotted cream. When confronted with cold coffee however, diners were voicing their confusion. Heavy on the style, lacking on substance.
As we were released from the hall into the growing gaiety, Fitz Swing kicked off in the Elysium Marquee and the party began. A lack of content in the main course was easily compensated by the food stalls directly outside: Fired Up’s wood fired pizzas went well with near enough everything – including the freshly made doughnuts. The food was generally good, and seemingly inexhaustible with Elk burgers and ice lollies available long into the night. Further afield crepes were to be found near the obligatory fair-ground ride.
The drinks were less consistent. Chase distillery’s Gin made for some delicious cocktails but the shots bars were awkward to get at. Neptune’s Maze would’ve been fairly pointless without the sugary Blue Lagoon rewards – it made a nice thematic addition.
The Underworld (main stage) seriously lacked a source of punch-packing drinks. An unending supply of VKs can only do so much. Why a shot bar was placed in the Forum (comedy stage) instead of here, was not clear. Water and soft drinks were in short supply, and the main bar seemed constantly busy.
In ‘Caesars Palace’ cupcakes and Baileys based beverages were offered along with massages and e-shisha. Sadly, the sign-up for massages filled up quickly and the e-shisha was just flavoured vapour – real shisha would have had to be outside though, in the cold. This chill-out room felt overly busy. Its central placement didn’t give it the lazy-day feel desired.
At £84 for a standard ticket and £10 extra for queue jump, you could easily eat and drink your way through the admission price. £109 for a dining ticket, (including an effective queue jump) didn’t feel justified.
Other main events included the rather risky roller-rink, a Footlights contingent and headliners The Hoosiers. Ray’s devoted worriers were well received, playing a lively set & finally bidding yet another goodbye to Mr. A.
With an abundance of other acts, such as the velvet voices of the College’s a cappella groups, Fitz Sirens and Fitz Barbershop, Pluto (a saxophone-featuring trio), and hourly piñata sacrifices of increasing wanton violence, there was never a dull moment. Nor did there appear to be momentary lapses of organisation – smooth handling of the entire ball from start to finish. Crowd flow never bottlenecked, with a fairly even spread of attracts across the college. The general theme received some nice attention to detail: upside down trees and Botticelli’s Venus in the photo-booth.
All said, this winter event has whetted my palate for May Week in good style.