EXT. OXFORD STREET – NIGHT.
We’re in bougie Woollahra. Rain smatters the pavement and cars veer around the corner, wetting the shoes of pedestrians at the crossing. Cut to a low-angle shot of The Light Brigade Hotel.In the second-storey windows, silhouettes of Coco Chanel and Humphrey Bogart, Renoir and Marie Antoinette, dance, drink and French kiss long into the night.
Narrator: Well, well, well, what do we have here? A gaggle of media students in desperate need of a photoshoot for their BNOC Instagrams?
Cue: MECO Ball 2018.
This year, the Media and Communications Society (MECOsoc) brought the best of Europe for one night only, with their ‘Midnight in Paris’ theme. The Facebook event description was as punny as they come, promising a night full of Liberté, Egalité, and Canapés.
Of all the balls out there, MECO’s is the smallest and most insular—like the MECO cohort itself. But this isn’t a problem: Media students are as well-versed in turning a casual pub gatho into a party, as they are at over-gesticulating and shouting above a healthy decibel level. The ball was “wild!” as of my friends put it, continually, all night.
Upon arrival, guests were greeted by the moody, midnight blue Brigade Lounge (a former art-deco powder room), where MECOsoc president, Michelle Dang, crossed off names and hugged old friends and newcomers alike. The terrace had been transformed into a temporary photoshoot set, inflating our already bursting egos. This wasn’t helped by the bar tab, featuring spirits (which vanished in two hours), wines, beers, and of course champagne, said to be imported from Champagne, France.
Soon, the place was teeming with red carpet-ready social butterflies. Many took a classic interpretation of the theme, donning a sharp suit, or bold red lip and LBD. But many more went all out, wearing Casablanca-esque hats and trench coats, or sporting the cat eye sunnies and faux fur to channel their inner Paris Fashion Week model. There was even a sexy mime, face painted, sheer thigh-high stockings, with props and all. Ooh la la!
MECO is always a collaborative bunch, so a Spotify playlist was made for everyone to add their fave bangers to. This came with its pros and cons. While there was something for everyone, it was sometimes jarring to jump between generations and genres—unexpectedly going from Drake to INXS to Smash Mouth, with no time to recover. And now to the breaking news: as a media student, I am saddened to report that ‘Mr. Brightside’ received a pitiable singalong, with a pocketful of tryhard diehards yelling the lyrics across the room. It was actually The Veronicas’ ‘Untouched’ that tapped into our teen angst this year, and really got the makeshift-DF shaking.
As midnight approached we hobbled down the stairs and into our ubers either to the Ivy, the next bar of choice, or for the more responsible crowd, home for some much-needed sleep before work the next day.
Date: October 11, 2018
Theme: Midnight in Paris
Ticket prices: $60 access, $67 non-access
Entertainment: Networking over cocktail tables
After Party: Ivy
- 1x sexy mime
- 165x proseccos
- Countless times hearing the night was “wild!”
If there’s one ball that everyone wants to attend, it’s the Sydney University Business Society (SUBS) Ball. In previous years, I had heard from friends how it was almost impossible to nab tickets, but that wasn’t going to stop me. This year’s theme was ‘Narnia at Nightfall’, and the promo was top quality (as you would expect from deft marketing majors): the event banner was a short that took you through the wardrobe and into the snowy, lamp-lit Narnian mountains. I was hyped, and you best believe my ten-year-old self was going to fight harder than Peter against the White Witch, to be a Daughter of Eve for the night.
Fifteen minutes into ticket sales, and no one from our table could crack into the QPay link. The 500 tickets were all reserved and I hit refresh for what seemed like an eternal winter. Things were looking grim. But just as Aslan comes through at the end of the final battle, so did hope. As it came to the half hour mark, some poor soul lost their reserved seats and we were able to slip in, winning ourselves a prime spot next to the dance floor.
I arrived at the Le Montage ten minutes before doors opened (and as someone who runs on Greek time, this is the first and most likely last time this will ever happen). While waiting for friends stuck in heavy rain and traffic, I watched accounting and finance students taking pics with a hired horse and carriage out front, or talking about hedge funds.
Soon, after some initial mingling, it was time for entrées. While at most balls the food is served and people flock to their tables, the DJ felt the need to wear his teacher-on-lunch-duty hat and sternly tell the crowd to “sit down, I’m not going to tell you again.” A big thank you to whoever took the mic away from him.
That said, the food itself was delicious. Two types of pasta for entrées, before beef or chicken and vegetables for mains, and a mousse for third course—props to Narnia at Nightfall being the only ball I have thus far attended with a chocolate dessert. You win.
Now, SUBS is known for going all out with their ball, so you can bet there was a lot more than just a photo booth and flower wall, which have become the standard at this point. The event hall was decorated to the max. Massive lit-up letters spelling ‘SUBS’ fronted the DJ booth, as smoke machines enchanted the hall into a foggy winter wonderland. The table centrepieces featured elaborate arrangements of roses, scattered jewels and oversized crowns. A huge, white, glowing tree and two lamp posts stood on the other side of the hall, surrounded by fake snow which was surprisingly slippery. An ice sculpture of none other than our favourite lion hero, Aslan (who had lost his tail by the end of the night), looked on as tarot card readers foretold the fates of those brave enough to approach.
Of course, it was the good old R&B hit ‘Power’ by Kanye that bewitched us to the dance floor, but it was throwbacks like ‘Hollaback Girl’, ‘Mambo No. 5’, and ‘The Horses’ that kept us there, and the night was topped off with none other than—you guessed it, and i’m sorry—‘Mr. Brightside’ again.
Finally, we shuffled from the wardrobe into the Ivy, where the party raged on until the early hours. I’m just disappointed that no one passionately yelled “For Narnia, and for Aslan” on their way out.
Date: 18 October, 2018
Theme: Narnia at Nightfall
Ticket prices: $135.10 Access, $140.18 Non-Access
Entertainment: A horse and carriage out the front, DJ, flower wall and digital photobooth, Aslan ice sculpture, lamp posts, a glowing white tree, two tarot card readers.
After Party: Round 2 this week at the Ivy
- 1x Mr Tumnus tearing up the dancefloor
- 2x lampposts framing an Aslan ice sculpture for that extra Narnia flare
- 3x stacking it on the fake snow
Health Sciences Ball
Cumbo campus is like Australia in the same-sex marriage debate: late in societal progress, but it gets there eventually. The 2018 Health Sciences Ball was the first of its kind. Never before have all seven health science disciplines banded together for a formal event of this scale. A team made of the Cumberland Student Guild, HealthSoc, the Vietnamese Students’ Association (VSA at Cumbo), ReCreate Arts Group and mental health organisation, Batyr, brought us the most highly anticipated event on USyd’s ‘other campus’ calendar.
Tickets sold out like hotcakes—literally in less than five minutes, and by far the most exciting thing to happen to this campus, ever. As the long-forgotten souls of the University, it was finally Cumbo’s moment to participate in the annual ball craze, and to be frank, the only reason why I enrolled in semester two this year.
The night was hosted at Dockside’s waterfront venue at Cockle Bay Wharf. Its stunning view of Darling Harbour provided the perfect backdrop for everyone’s primetime Instagram shots. In the gift that kept on giving, the organisers continued to provide the goods with (yes, yet another) flower wall, and a failsafe photo booth. You can only imagine the groans from the suckers forced to work all angles until everyone in each group could agree on the shot where they all looked “cute”.
The night got off on the right foot with food served almost immediately upon arrival, and an electric atmosphere to go with it. I have had my fair share of formal events during my four years at USyd; Law Ball, Arts Ball, the Medical Society (MESSY) Ball, and now, the ball of my own people, Health Sciences Ball. Usually the night consists of speeches from members of the committee, drinks & food, music, and some ‘light’ entertainment, which could be anything from a jazz band to an aerial acrobatics act.
This year, Health Sciences’ presentation was more a miss than hit. A speech on depression awareness took place just as the marinated chicken came out. While relevant to the faculty, and touching on many important points, the timing was a bit off. People seemed distracted by the meal and naturally, it temporarily subdued the tone of the event.
Nonetheless, the rest of the night went off without a hitch. The mood was quickly resurrected with some home-grown Cumbo talent, as we were graced with a beautiful rendition of Kygo’s ‘Firestone’. This got the party started, the booze flowing and inspired many a drunk student to document the entire night on social media in a vain attempt to convince main campus that Cumbo, does indeed, have a social life.
The dance floor went off as the DJ played hit after hit, including a traditional and sacred hymn—yes, you guessed it, ‘Mr. Brightside’. With the party wrapping up around 11:30, it was evident that this small, tight-knit, and often forgotten community had an outstanding night with amazing memories, all thanks to the hard work and great execution of the Ball’s committee. I can speak for all Cumbo students when I say I’m keen for 2019 to be even bigger and better than 2018’s knockout event.
Date: October 19, 2018
Theme: Cumberland Awareness Night (unofficial)
Ticket prices: $89-$110
Entertainment: DJ, speeches, live acts, flower wall, photo booth
After party: Kick-ons at the Cas
- 1x plus-one for any Health Science Fac student
- 12x mates to each table
- 103x camera roll group shots