For the second year in a row Oceana hosted the Graduation Ball for University of Southampton. The Soton Tab kindly nominated me to reflect on the experience.
The ball hosted a variety of acts including Amelia Lilly, DJ Fresh, Pendulum, Scott Mills and Stavos Flatley. SUSU pulled out the stops boasting a red carpet, funfair and professional photography.
Last year when Sam Ling, Union President, announced Oceana as the venue for the Grad Ball he was hit with an initial backlash from students. Sam promised to use Oceana as an empty shell and build up from there. It’s fair to say that Oceana certainly looked different to how it does on a ‘standard’ night, although the décor of Ice House was MTV themed without any explanation. Pendulum even commented on this saying “ALRIGHT MTV” rather than Southampton or even Grad Ball.
It was nice to see SUSU continuing to support its societies even at Grad Ball, with DJ Soc playing Bar Quarter. For me this demonstrates how accommodating SUSU tries to be for its students. All in all everyone I spoke to on the night appeared to be having a good time although this could be attributed to the copious amounts of alcohol. At £3.90 a double it was hardly cheap either and it’s disappointing that SUSU were unable to arrange any form of drinks deals for its students on the event.
Regarding acts, several performances really stood out. Despite their late arrival, Stavros Flatley totally smashed it with their somewhat creative and exciting performance. Pendulum were also a huge success playing classic tunes such as ‘Tarantula’ and ‘Hold Your Colour’ which got everyone in the Ice House dancing erratically and enjoying the vibes.
A surprising amount of people lasted until the survivors photo at 4am and it has to be mentioned that the taxi and safety bus service was far better organised than last year.
For future it would be good to see some of the late night food being sold at a cheaper price as many students were left complaining as they forked out £4 for nachos.
Grad Ball is all about enjoying a last goodbye with your friends, housemates and course mates and nobody can say that there wasn’t plenty of room in Oceana to do so. Was it worth £50? Debatable.
SUSU certainly tried its best to ensure that there was something at the event for everyone but of course you cant please them all. Honestly, if Example cancelling at the last minute ruined your night then you probably missed the point somewhere. Having attended the event last year it has to be said it was better organised with a wider variety of acts and quicker service at the bars. I really enjoyed seeing SUSU staff as bouncers at the event which further shows how much SUSU was trying to give back to its community with this event.
For the future of Grad Ball, SUSU needs to continue listening to its students and consider creating a Nightlife/Grad Ball committee so the planning and organisation has student feedback throughout the process. It would be fantastic to also see more clubs and societies becoming involved in the event also with possible performances from PAU, dance societies and music groups.