Szentek: reviewed

This year Szentek truly established itself as the most exciting event in the St Andrews’ social calendar. In its fourth year running, Szentek transformed Kinkell Byre, creating an immersive, sensory experience and ultimately an insane party. The night was meticulously curated with world renowned DJs playing alongside student and local artists, as well as art installations. The results were explosive. 

When first walking into Kinkell, we were greeted by Room 3, which undoubtedly showcased how talented the students in this town are with Wax Collective, Copper Coil and Szentek’s resident DJs playing. Inside the venue, the Fife barn was brilliantly transformed by hanging murals and artworks, creating an ambiance that felt authentically raw and essentially underground. Personal highlights come in the form of a sculpture made from Tenants cans, and the digital art by Zmotionsz. Also, the one-off set with St Andrews’ own Max Dupa, accompanied by the live jazz and funk band, Two This for That, was incredible. The unique metamorphosis of style was an unforgettable audible experience. Pure butter. 

The second room created a more intimate experience, Peverelist, IDA and Palidrone sustained an eclectic vibe ranging from techno to acid house. We were treated to sounds that spanned the world of dance and beyond: this room was bursting with energy. 

The main room was an auditory delight. Legendary DJ duo Optimo went above and beyond expectations, bringing their renowned Optimo night from Glasgow to Fife, they created a groovy experience, jumping from funk to punk, electro, 50s swing and more. Éclair Fifi delivered an astounding set bringing the party to life for the energetic crowd. It was great to see so much female representation at the event, in light of how male dominated the music industry is. It also cannot be forgotten that all proceeds from the event went towards ‘Variety’, a charity for disabled children. 

Congratulations to the Szentek committee for an outstanding night, it was a blast.  

Review: CATWALK Launch

The launch of one of my favourite events in the St Andrews social calendar certainly perked up my Tuesday evening this week. Taking it from the lows of the library to the buzz of Beacon Bar, I was greatly impressed by both the professionalism and sense of fun captured in this year’s CATWALK Charity Fashion Show Launch party. 

First, a dull but essential comment on housekeeping:  Upon entry I was greeted by some lovely ladies at a coat rail who ensured that everyone was able to find their North Face Puffer at the end of the night.  Pleasantly surprised by the absence of Mount Canada Goose and confidently handing over my jacket, I was in a good mood.  

Photography: Annie Pritchett-Brown

As a choice of venue, Beacon Bar worked well.  The room felt busy but not overcrowded and was tastefully decorated with pictures of the models on the windows and large golden balloons spelling PLAYTIME, the show’s creative theme.  This theme was somewhat less tastefully manifested in a blow-up ball pit filled with inflatable toys including a large doughnut. Other St Andrews fashion shows wouldn’t have been caught dead in that paddling pool, and that’s perhaps why I loved it so much. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

Indeed, the creative theme of Playtime is different from previous years of CATWALK and, I believe, from any other fashion show in the town.  In the dreary winter months, it’s a welcome dose of sunshine. 

Photography: Annie Pritchett-Brown

Director Isi Webb-Jenkins told me:

“We were bored of the serious noir themes that seem to dominate the student-run fashion shows of the town and thought it was time to embrace a more fun-loving side. That’s what CATWALK is all about, philanthropy and having a bit of fun and we just hope everyone enjoys it.”

The clothes aim to reflect this more light-hearted approach.   With a cupcake in one hand and a CATWALK “Refresher” cocktail in the other, I got chatting to Noemie Jouas, the show’s in-house student fashion designer whose collection is set to take to the runway next semester:

“I’m aiming for bright colours, with elements of childhood memory whilst not looking too much like children’s clothing. Big and bold, with lots of texture, I play with proportions a lot too, so the clothes appear almost unwearable. That’s sometimes exactly what fashion is.  Really, I just want to make everyone smile.” 

Noemie was also wearing a jumpsuit which she had made that very morning from some curtains, and she looked fabulous.  If that’s what she can do with a day and some drapes, I am dying to see what her collection for CATWALK has in store. 

Photography: Annie Pritchett-Brown

The floor was cleared, the lights dimmed, and the volume turned up.  The models, all in white shirts and black bottoms, were introduced through some impressive choreography, credit to the show’s choreographer, Charlotte Hoyle.  The professionalism of the event was perhaps best captured in this moment. The models’ walk was neither overly complicated nor too short or simplistic.  Their crisp white shirts combined with fun splashes of colour in their makeup complimented the theme, and the music went down a treat, the crowd seeming to greatly enjoy the spectacle. 

Photography: Annie Pritchett-Brown

Overall, CATWALK’s launch has left Owl Eyes excited for what the show itself has in store and hoping that the Union makes the “Refresher” cocktail a permanent fixture. 

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!

Review: Starfields 2019

As expected, this year’s Starfields saw FS deliver on all their promises of a fitting conclusion to Freshers’ week and summer 2019. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

Grumbles had been heard about the price of a ticket and upon arrival, not much seemed to have changed from previous years.  However, looking closer, the layout of the bar (it being central and square) was an excellent move by the committee.  This allowed for gin and tonics to be an easy and accessible delight for the masses, whilst also being served in recyclable vessels. A big tick from us. 

One addition this year was the presence of St Andrews’ beloved hairdresser Spoiled, who were doing glittered braids.  A simple idea but one which was well-received and had some fantastic-looking results, complimenting the general sea of Hawaiian shirts and sequinned skirts. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

Though there was no Blackhorn to be seen, the two stalls of sweet and savoury options were extremely popular and looked delicious.  Other areas included a beanbag space which worked less well, though we were pleased to note the availability of hydration in the form of kombucha, rather than plastic balls, in the ball pit.  

Photography: Henry Memmott

Of course, we should discuss the main event: the music.  The production was aesthetically pleasing, with light and smoke displays adding an impressive edge upon previous years’ events.  The music did not disappoint, providing dance classics to which one could throw many a shape, with ‘Rinse & Repeat’ DJ Riton’s set really getting the crowd going. 

Photography: Henry Memmott

All in all, we were very impressed, and the standards set by Starfields has us looking forward to what FS 2020 has to offer. 

Preview: Starfields 2019 – Summer’s Closing Ceremony

Every year, students descend upon Lower College Lawn to enjoy Starfields, an event which marks the culmination of a jam-packed Freshers’ Week and the beginning of the new university year.  Owl Eyes has been given the inside scoop on this year’s festival and we are more excited than ever for all of our readers to attend.

As one of the UK’s most popular student-run music festivals, with previous headliners such as Michael Calfan, Gorgon City and Klingande, Starfields 2019 promises to be bigger, better and more environmentally friendly than ever.  The line-up of Saturday 14th September promises a night filled with all of your summer favourites.  Featuring “Rinse and Repeat” DJ Riton and house and hip-hop favourite, Crazy Cousinz. Summer, and indeed Freshers Week, 2019 will be concluded by headliner, Matoma.

Starting in Spring this year, FS’s Head of Music, James Wearmouth has been working closely with Executive Director, Daniel Craig to capture the sound of summer.  James says “What we wanted to do at Starfields was to allow people to relive summer through the music and atmosphere – drinking, catching up with friends and, of course, dancing the night away to a summer vibes soundtrack”.


Not only will you enjoy soaking up the last dregs of summer (and hopefully sunshine) but your itchy feet are sure to find solace in this year’s line-up.

The environmental aspect of the event further peaked our attention. Within the official press release, the committee promise “a revolutionary take on a summer music festival”, with the adoption of a more sustainable ethos, complete with recyclable cups, water cartons and compostable materials.

Also emphasised was the importance of minimising waste produced at the event.  The team are intent on making event culture within St Andrews, and across British universities, more ethical and ecologically-minded.

Since birth, Starfields has held a special place in the St Andrews calendar, concluding Freshers and welcoming us all back to the bubble for another semester.  Georgia Davies, head of press, says “We want to capture the electricity and excitement of Freshers’ week, providing students with a night they will want to remember” with the event aiming “to merge cutting edge dance music with a carefree night of fun before the semester’s work begins.”

Owl Eyes are extremely excited to experience another year of Starfields, summer’s closing ceremony, and we look forward to seeing many of you there.

There’s even a Starfields 2019 playlist on Spotify to help you get the party started.

To buy tickets go to this link and keep eyes peeled on their Facebook page for regular updates.