Catwalk: reviewed

Within the St Andrews fashion show family, Catwalk is widely recognised as the fun one; the favourite cousin who turns up to family dinners with a broad grin and a cheeky sparkle in their eye. In short, a good time guaranteed. This year, the theme was ‘Playtime’, and Catwalk 2020 most certainly did not disappoint. 

It was quite the departure from the usual St Andrews Wednesday night out. The 601 that we know and love was looking the best she ever has, filled with glitter and velvet and brightly coloured eyeshadow. And that was just the audience. As the models walked, the crowd danced and cheered and threw their hands up adoringly as banger after banger throbbed in our ears. As the show went on, I was struck by the level of professionalism, originality and variety that this year’s committee had achieved: the choreography was refreshingly diverse and dynamic, the models’ makeup was bright and fun, and the fashion was as eclectic as you could hope for. My favourite pieces were the kilts, designed by McCall’s in Dundee, and the Lady Gaga-esque cone-bra dresses, designed by Isa Hummelin, a graduate designer from Germany. 

Catwalk is one of the most affordable, and least pretentious, fashion shows in St Andrews: instead of taking itself too seriously, this year’s show focused on enjoyment: the committee were having a good time, the models were having a good time, and the audience was absolutely having a good time. It is also the only St Andrews fashion show that donates 100% of its proceeds. This year, the funds raised went to the University’s three nominated charities, as voted for by students themselves: Women for Women International, the Yard, and Calm.

Professional though the show was, it stayed true to its theme, and in their last few walks the models’ steely pouts melted into warm grins as they waved to their pals and danced together in a fantastic sartorial selection ranging from block-colour bikinis to hi vis workman jackets. As Areosmith’s “Walk This Way” blared from the speakers and every mouth in the room, the models trotted out en masse and exploded confetti guns all over the audience. Suffice it to say, we were loving every moment.   

Review: Welly Ball 2019

Picture the scene: my flatmates and I in our living room, scrolling through Instagram and chortling at the various welly-related captions as we lounge amongst cups of stewed tea and chunks of birthday cake that some kind soul brought to pres the night before. Popping paracetamol and deciding between eggs or crumpets, we have the obligatory debrief. It’s unanimous: we all had a fantastic time at the Welly Ball after-party.

Upon arrival, the venue looked beautiful and was filled with an excited buzz. We checked our coats and bounded down into the main area, where dinner guests, fuelled by what I hear was a very tasty meal, welcomed us newcomers to the après-scran fiesta with warm enthusiasm. Everyone looked extremely dapper and we were very pleased to note that being full up was holding no one back from throwing a shape or two. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

The DJs, Max Dupa, biglöts and our very own home-grown Ashton Squires, played a crowd-pleasing variety of dance tunes and sing-along cheese ballads. Though the hype line “the bad news is we only have half an hour left…but the good news is WE HAVE HALF AN HOUR LEFT!” perhaps needed a little refining, it was instantly forgiven as the first few notes of High School Musical’s “Breaking Free” blasted from speakers and mouths and battered our nostalgic ears. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

Whenever a disco break was required, which it often was due to the hustling bustling business of the main area, we slipped through into the next room and enjoyed a little breathing space, twinkling overhead lights, and a spot of light-hearted tweedy flirtation. 

We were impressed with the general organisation of the event: when we needed hydration or sustenance, it didn’t take too long to get to a replenishing bar or food station; when we needed the loo, the lines were not overwhelmingly long (though a little chilly on the exposed knee); and when it was time to collect our outerwear and shoot off, the people working the coat check were friendly and efficient. The committee did an excellent job this year.

Photography: Henry Memmott

In between the slurping, snacking and sighing of the following morning, we agreed that the £29 was indeed worth it. Moreover, all the money raised from this event will go to the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which funds mental health training for GPs across the UK, works to support parents and carers, and provides mental health resources to schools and universities. Last year the committee donated over £22,500, and having bumped up the price of tickets, I reckon this year will be even more successful. A great event, and money raised for a great cause: what more could you want from an evening? 

Photography: Henry Memmott

If you would like to find out more about the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust or the work they do with Welly Ball’s donations, please visit their website at this link.

Review: BAT x Arbikie Cocktail Masterclass

Does a spot of mixology ever go amiss on a Thursday evening? If I was ever in any doubt, BAT’s Cocktail Masterclass wiped it clean away. This event, created in partnership with Arbikie Highland Estate and held at St Andrews Brewing Co, is BAT’s fastest yet to sell out. And I understand why: it was just the mid-week pick-me-up that I didn’t know I needed. 

Bartenders Against Temperance is St Andrews’ very own cocktail society. You would be forgiven, then, for thinking that it might be a touch pretentious. However, this is a society that does not take itself too seriously: when I asked about the origins of its name, BAT’s President, Katie Campbell, explained with a sly smile that it was a good alternative to Cocktail Society, and the inevitable abbreviation this would produce…it took me a minute to get it, but she’s not wrong there. 

A hubbub of happy voices filled the room as the committee put the finishing touches to booths that they had transformed into impressively well kitted-out cocktail stations. Four beverages were on the agenda, each with a different Arbikie spirit used as a base, and each with a pleasingly punny name: the AK’s Martini, the Strawbikie, the Aviatrix, and my personal favourite, the Chilli Scotsman.

A representative from Arbikie spoke about their business, which is based in Arbroath and operates a ‘field to bottle’ operation: all their ingredients are grown locally. I love a field and I love a bottle and therefore I was, as I so often am, sold. 

I joined a lovely group of girls as they made their way from booth to booth, watching first a demo and then having a go at it making the drinks themselves. This was the best bit of the evening. I chatted to committee members and supped various delightful tasters while the girls shook cocktails like their lives depended on it, drank from glasses whose stems had fallen off, and generally had a merry old time. At one point I was drinking something that involved a dehydrated hibiscus petal and I have never felt so much like a lady in all my life. Sidney Hobbs, who joined the society this year, assured me that creativity is encouraged as she urged me to try a citrusy creation that she had proudly named ‘Week 5’. 

Half way through the event, we took a break from imbibing to cleanse our palates with a range of comestible digestibles. While we tucked in, one of the founders of BAT, Kyle Van Oosterum, who is also the current Vice President, explained that their philosophy is about drinking better and drinking more responsibly. As he pointed out, at this event you got the chance to make and enjoy four cocktails for the price of three pablos (£15). As much as I love a cheeky pab, I have to agree with him that this is indeed a very good deal, and undeniably classier. 

If you fancy getting involved, and I would recommend that you do, keep an eye on BAT’s facebook page for updates: information about an upcoming event hosted at Rogue will be coming soon, and for those of you who are feeling furtively festive, you won’t have long to wait before BAT’s Christmas masterclass and dinner…

Preview: Welly Ball 2019

It is October, and we all know what that means in this neck of the woods: it is essentially winter. As we all develop rosy cheeks, don our scarves and notice with pleasure that Tesco has started stocking mince pies, we must remember that Christmas is not the only thing to look forward to in these chilly months. Come November the 9th, over 2000 students will flock to St Andrews for the ever-popular Welly Ball. Owl Eyes has been given the insider info and we are sipping our tea with glee as we look forward to a night of revelry at Kinkell Byre.  

This year will be the 12th anniversary of Welly Ball and the dress code, as ever, will produce a sartorial smorgasbord that will baffle those who are not in the know: head-to-just-under-the-knee black tie, and just-under-the-knee-to-toe wellington boot. Perhaps with a Barbour jacket flung about the shoulders if you are feeling reckless. Due to the annual shooting competition that takes place before the ball, The Challenge, there will be students from all over the UK attending: one must look one’s best.

The ballot for the dinner ticket closed yesterday: fingers crossed for those of us who went for it! With a welcome drink, two course meal, wine, transport, after party access and (everybody’s favourite part of any event) a goody bag, for £70, it promises to be a good night. The after party tickets go on sale on the 30thOctober, at a more manageable £30, and these include after party access with drinks and the all-crucial snax. 

All the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity founded by Charlie’s family after he took his own life in September 1997. Charlie had been suffering from depression, and this charity aims to raise awareness and support for young people with mental health issues. As we draw to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, mental wellbeing is a topic that many of us will have had on our minds, and one that it is important to bear in mind throughout the year. 

All in all, we are very excited to romp about Kinkell in our finery, looking like something right off the pages of Country Life. Welly Ball is an event that delivers every year, and if you haven’t yet got a ticket, I would absolutely recommend that you get one, fish your wellies out from the back of your cupboard, and get ready for a blister-free evening of throwing shapes. 

Check the Facebook page for info on ticket sales and general exciting updates!