A Cinderella Series: Bucky Ball and Glitter Gala

Time to dust off your glass slippers and relive 2018's balls before the clock strikes 12

Bucky Ball

Tom Roberts

It was a cold night in October. Rain lashed at the windows as I ate, drank, and was merry with a table of friends. And yet something seemed amiss. Something I couldn’t quite shake. Everyone around me seemed to speak a language that wasn’t quite English. They hissed and muttered words infused with Latin and Greek. It was too late that I realised… I was at Bucky Ball.

How did I, a Media/Law student, end up at Bucky Ball, you ask? It was a moment of weakness, a joking suggestion from a friend that I attend, and some reckless disregard for $130 of my own money. I was worried that I would be out of place, but then I remembered that you can’t have ‘Social Sciences’ without ‘Science’, so it’s basically the same thing.

The interdisciplinary event was diverse, yet inclusive: the Science Society (SciSoc), Biology Society (BioSoc), Physics Society (PhySoc), Psychology Society (Psyche), Sydney University Medical Society (SUMS) and Astronomy Society (Astro-Nuts). As it turns out, Social Science and Science are completely different faculties. Who would have thought?! 

That said, going to Bucky Ball was far from a mistake. From the moment I walked through the venue doors, where they seemed to have assembled nothing short of an entire garden centre’s worth of flowers on each of the tables I immediately felt more at home than any formal or ball I have ever been to. 

Similar to Law Ball’s ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’, Bucky Ball’s ‘Spring Gala’ heralded in the warmer season to come. We were seated quickly and as the food was brought out, I noticed the remarkable amount of effort that had gone into outfits to fit with the theme. Everyone had something—a floral jumpsuit, a rose pinned to their lapel, a flower crown—Science students commit.

During the main course, speeches and awards began. I think. I have a sneaking suspicion that they had stolen an airport intercom system to use as their microphone, because I was genuinely unsure as to what was going on or being said. All I knew is that some people were cheering periodically, and from that I gathered something good had been said and that people approved of it.

The awards had a bewildering, but creative, range. From the classic ‘Best Dressed’ and ‘Cutest Couple’, they then swung to the embarrassing ‘Best Yeet’, the somewhat problematic ‘Best Arse’, and the hilarious ‘Least Sciencey Person’ (which was won by a communications student from UTS, prompting the entire gathering to sing “fuck off UTS” and it was a moment of the truest harmony across all USyd Faculties and majors in attendance).

Almost as if the music choice had watched the bizarre range of the awards that preceded it and thought “I can do better”, the songs were eclectic, but nonetheless inspired those in attendance to cram onto the small dance floor and bop their way through the night. I am still uncertain if putting the dance floor in front of the only doors onto the balcony was a stroke of genius (by not letting the dance floor get too hot and sweaty) or a terrible mistake (because to leave the building you had to push through a crowd of people dancing to Despacito, and were not able to admire Dockside’s views of Darling Harbour).

When the night came to a close, the revellers walked down to Home Bar, only to find that a second event had also booked the venue for their afters, forcing everyone to stand in the midnight rain for 45 minutes before getting in. I did not go to afters, citing having “uni work” to do the next day and hiding the real reason I wasn’t carrying on—my pants had ripped dramatically and I couldn’t have anyone discovering my shame.

It was a ridiculous night in the best of ways. Devoid of any sense of self-importance, the atmosphere of the event was clear—we’re here to dress up and have fun. And on that, Bucky Ball certainly delivered.

Fact Sheet:

Date: October 5 2018

Time: 6:30-11:30pm

Theme: Spring Gala

Ticket prices: Access $120, Non-Access $130

Entertainment: DJ, award ceremony, flower wall, digital photo booth

After Party: Home Bar

Final Tally:

  • 4x singing “Happy Birthday”
  • 45 minutes waiting in the queue for afters
  • 1x pair of darned trousers


Glitter Gala

Nina Dillon-Britton

This year’s Glitter Gala brought together all the key parts of USyd’s queer community: straight USU board directors, the National Rainbow Labor caucus and misc allies (read: imposters).

For those who don’t know, Glitter Gala is the USU’s annual queer ball, hosted in partnership with SHADES. It brings together USyd’s queer community, celebrates the year’s achievements, and gives many of us the opportunity to enjoy the sort of formal night with partners we were denied in high school.

Sadly, despite being in the name, glitter is banned from the gala, either due to the fact it’s impossible to remove or because the USU is homophobic. You decide.

The location was on theme: attendants were sat at tastefully decorated tables in the Refectory Room beneath its terrifying and homoerotic mural (I tried to find pictures of this online for the article but the USU has wisely removed all evidence of it from its website). Also suspicious was the weird way the tables were separated by the dance-floor. Our esteemed Board Directors’ table was positioned at the far end of the room, though the Board’s only “Libdependents” Jacob Masina and Lachlan Finch were exiled, charged with the dull task of sitting with Honi editors. Sad.

The night’s master of ceremonies was Board Director and Queer Portfolio director Connor Wherrett. I’m not sure what the metric is for a good MC, but Connor clearly got the most important thing: keep it brief. Everyone was drinking on an empty stomach and we had to get through a number of speeches before meals came out.

SHADES President Jessie Attwood and SRC Queer Officer Jazz Breen gave the opening speeches. Attwood is credited with this year’s SHADES revival—no easy feat. Breen is organising the upcoming anti-conversion therapy action in Sydney. Points are taken off for Breen because her phone died and she winged the speech—but she managed some extra credit for pulling it off anyway.

The highlight of the night though was clearly Matthew Yeldham from Out for Australia, an organisation that seeks to link young queer people up with mentors in their field. Yeldham’s speech celebrated how far USyd has come over the past few years. And while it’s easy to take USyd’s inclusive bubble for granted, initiatives like the Ally Network and participation in Mardi Gras have only come about through the tireless work of our community. Yeldham also reminded us of the words of Harvey Milk, noting that it’s the support of our community that will see us through adversity and persecution.

Finally: food. Carnivores did well with “surf and turf” and chicken. Vegetarians were left with unseasoned gnocchi and mushrooms. For some reason we were given a marshmallow for dessert. Even with a disappointing meal though, with 2 courses, an open bar, and a $55 ticket, it was possible to break if you were committed to smashing enough red wine.

The dance floor was decent, but the playlist was a miss and sound failed to reverberate properly. The DJ didn’t take song requests and there wasn’t nearly enough Gaga, Charli XCX or Ariana Grande.

A good reviewer would end this with a quick review of the SHADES after party at Stonewall. But I make no claim to being a good reviewer, and anyone who’s been to Stonewall would understand why I’d never set foot in there again.

Fact Sheet:

Date: October 5 2018

Time: 6:30-11:30

Theme: Glitter? Absolutely not.

Ticket prices: Access $120, Non-Access $130

Entertainment: DJ, another flower wall, instant photo printer that didn’t work

After Party: Stonewall

Final Tally:

  • 1x Failed USU Hashtag
  • 20x Non-USyd Young Labor Students
  • 1x Marshmallow
  • 0x God Is A Woman