Having been in Imperial for four years, I’ve never previously attended Summer Ball before. It doesn’t help that the event had to be cancelled two years in a row due to the pandemic. Back in my first year, I decided not to attend Summer Ball as ticket prices were quite high, and being a fresher, I was more conscious about my expenses and decided that I have many more years to head to the ball if I were to change my mind. As I was living right opposite the college, I distinctly remember seeing a bunch of people with suits and dresses strolling across Exhibition Road, ready for a night to celebrate the end of the academic year. From the back gates of the college, I could also see various amusement rides such as bumper cars and a Ferris wheel being set up, all for one night of celebration.
This year, as The Scopes (The A Cappella group I perform with) were invited to perform in Summer Ball, I was also offered a free ticket to the ball. I was beyond excited as what better way to end the year by performing with a group of my closest friends for the last time, and being able to enjoy the rest of the night with them too.
This year’s Summer Ball was themed Masquerade, with headliners such as Karen Harding and Sigala, alongside many more student performances such as A Cappella, Funkology (Imperial College’s dance society), big band and many more. As my housemates were beyond enthusiastic about the event, I came home one day with a glittery, golden mask prepared for me for the night of the event. As it was my first ball, I did not know much of what to expect and decided to go to the ball blindly but filled with excitement.
We were called to soundcheck at the Great Hall by 5pm. At that time, stages were still being set up, but I could see that the whole college was being transformed with temporary stages on the Queen’s Lawn, photobooths and bars being set up in the Queen’s Tower Room, etc. Even though our soundcheck got delayed, seeing everyone with their fancy suits and dresses got me excited to step on that stage. Our performance was scheduled to start at 8:15pm, with the doors to the Great Hall opening at 8pm. As the doors first opened, a swarm of students immediately barged into the Great Hall, bringing the ambience of the night to an all-time high. A memory that will stick with me forever was when we were performing ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars, students were singing their lungs out with us, cheering and screaming to the familiar lyrics and tune of the song.
After our performance and exiting the Great Hall, I found the entire Queen’s Lawn surrounded by students. Food trucks were set up around the area too, with diverse food such as burgers, pasta, Korean Fried Chicken, etc. available. There was also a massive Ferris Wheel set up, with a stream of students waiting for their turn to get on the ride. The only complaint I had of the ball was the insane queues for everything. However, while we were queuing for our food, a loud ‘BANG’ erupted from the sky out of nowhere. When we turned our heads up, we were greeted with fireworks illuminating the sky and were mesmerized. Sitting on the benches on the lawn with good street food and drinks in our hands, the greasy street food paired unexpectedly well with the formal attires we were wearing, far better than a sit-down ballroom dinner. In the background, we could see Sigala on stage, and students on each other’s shoulders trying to get a better view. The whole air was just filled with an exhilaration that could only be found in a group of students.
As I had been in college the whole day, I decided to skip the after-party and head home to get a good rest. I woke up with stories from my friends getting unlimited curly fries (weirdly one of the staple dishes in our Union Bar!) from the after-party, and surviving till the end of the party at 6am just to take a Summer Ball Survivals Photo. I love events as such because they allow people to come together, for old and new friends to meet and have the time of their lives. Even though I’m saddened by the fact that I have now just graduated, I’m positive that these are all friendships and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.