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“Ally Pally” Summer Ball Confirmed

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jan 31 2004 18:01

The Union has announced that the Summer Ball will be held at Alexandra Palace on 21st May this year.

Click Here for the Full Article

Jan 31 2004 20:24

Please get Chesney Hawkes to play!!

Jan 31 2004 23:29

So.... the ball is being held mid-exam term with only one room of entertainment, probably no option of a cheaper ents-only ticket (proven to be very popular in previous years) and, if what I have heard is true, a total entertainment budget which wouldn't even allow us to book Westwood!

I hope Im wrong but it doesn't sound good to me!

3. C!   
Feb 01 2004 11:21

I'll not be going then. EE(1+2) exams start 24th May

Feb 01 2004 13:15

Doesn't seem like a very good excuse to me...

It's not going to be a particularly late night, and should be a nice calm way to sort your head out before exams start. It's on a friday night too, so you can work the whole weekend if you so desire.

Feb 01 2004 14:51

Hmmm... None of my friends who went last year are particularly impressed by these proposals. The ticket price (?55 + travel) and distance are cited as the main deterring factors.

Will transport to SW7 be provided by the Union to get 100s of students safely home or will they all need to negotiate the Night Bus network instead?

Feb 01 2004 15:53

Arrgh, my eyes!

Did I see correctly that it is going to cost more than 60 quid?! Without a cheaper ents only option?

This is way too expensive. For this amount of money I could fly to Bacelona with some cheapo airline and have an arguably better time.

7. Gary   
Feb 01 2004 15:54

From what I've heard the union will have a fleet of buses to transport everyone back to South Ken throughout the night.

Feb 01 2004 17:37

AFAIK, a typical Oxbridge summerball would set you back nearer to ?100, and that would in the college itself, rather at a nice posh venue.

9. Ameet   
Feb 01 2004 17:55

?100 is extortionate, and ?65+ isn't too far off too. We are students and that's a ridiculous amount of money to pay for one night. I think most ppl aren't too bothered about the location, as long as it's not a dump. The most important thing is that you're surrounded by loads of other students and your mates, and cheap booze.

10. Ameet   
Feb 01 2004 17:56

...and not having exams soon after!

Feb 01 2004 20:58

yeas - well, whenever you put the summer ball SOMEBODY is likely to be having exams. At least it's on a Friday. ?65 sounds expensive though - does this reduce if they get sponsorship?

12. Paul   
Feb 01 2004 22:46

I agree that whenever the ball is someone will complain. However, the sooner it is the more people will still have exams after! It is usually no later than the end of week 7 of term, this year its the end of week 4!!!

Whilst I agree most people will be able to fit it around their exams, the ball is supposed to mark the end of the year - I can imagine a lot of people not wanting to go if they still have major exams to do in the following weeks because the whole point of the ball is lost!

As for oxbridge.... yeah they cost more, but you also get more for your cash. Judging by the 1000 people break even point we are looking at, we maybe have a budget of around ?60k (of which only a tiny amount is likely to be budgeted for entertainment). Trinity college, cambridge run their ball from a budget of around ?800k.

Feb 02 2004 10:48

How many of you can honestly say that you spend every night of the summer term before exams studying anyway? :-)

14. Andrew   
Feb 02 2004 11:08


Sorry to be pedantic but actually you couldn't fly to Barcelona for that amount of money. The cheapest prices as of 2/2/04 are

?77.82 Stansted - Barcelona Girona (Ryanair)

?117.82 Stansted - Barcelona Reus (Ryanair)

?70.98 Luton - Barcelona El Prat (Easyjet)

?75.98 Gatwick - Barcelona El Prat (Easyjet)

?70.98 Stansted - Barcelona El Prat (Easyjet)

(based on cheapest return airfare + taxes, outbound any time on 20/5/04 return any time on 22/5/04, and cheapest available airport transfers to/from city centre)

Both Easyjet and Ryanair advise that even these expensive fares are strictly limited :)

15. Nia   
Feb 02 2004 11:28

I gather the choice of date, once the venue had been decided on, was limited to 21st May.

16. Steve   
Feb 02 2004 11:32

The 21st isn't too bad, it'll mark the end of exams for many final year students (certainly for EE and probably for other engineering students at the least).

And it is only one night, on a Friday, nobody will have exams the next day and if you really _need_ that Friday night you're probably stuffed anyway.

As for cost - it isn't that bad for a meal and a good night - I like the change of venue it'll make it more special

Feb 02 2004 11:37

Isn't it nice, for once, that the ball is being held far enough in advance of the Biology/ Biochem exams that the guys in that department may be able to attend this year. It will always affect people's exams. At least this year it will affect different departments.

As for the price, don't the Cambridge balls include the drinks for teh night too?

18. Seb   
Feb 02 2004 12:02

Reckon I could do better.

19. Steve   
Feb 02 2004 13:58

Go on then Seb, why don't you

20. Seb   
Feb 02 2004 17:02

I might just be :-)

21. Chris   
Feb 02 2004 18:15


Did he say he would go on that specific day?

You can get much cheaper flights than that to Europe

22. Random   
Feb 03 2004 10:29

Well as we all know, different things appeal to different people. Last years summer ball did not appeal to many, myself included.

I for one am looking forward to this and think it could be a great event. ?60 isn't that bad for a meal, some drinks and after dinner entertainment. Alexandra Palace will certainly be a nicer venue than college (including nicer food)!

Feb 03 2004 11:09

I'm not sure that random knows what he'd letting himself in for. The food at Alli Pally was OK, but in my opinion not worth the ?35 or so per head they charge - that standard was very similar to what you'd get in the SCR.....

Is there actually any drink included for ?60? If not be warned to take plenty of cash as the bars at AP are a lot more expensive than the ones in college!

It looks to me like this ball could be heading in a similar way to the second one held at AP (1999) when the price (?55 per head) put off too many people and the ball lost about ?13,000! Or of course it could hav been the [email protected] advertising that resulted in so few people going!

Lets hope AP have sorted out their Air Con in the west hall as it was like a sauna last time, otherwise it was a nice venue and generally enjopyed by those who went!

24. Paul   
Feb 03 2004 12:07

I agree with Old Lag. I was at the last Ally Pally ball (2000?) and the food was a major disappointment. In terms of taste it was 'OK', but the portion size was so small that most people felt hungry again well before the end of the night. The price included a champagne reception and a half bottle of wine with the meal, but their bars were particularly expensive so take out a mortgage for this one if you intend to drink! I for one would not be prepared to go again (if I had to pay to be there!) unless the after dinner entertainment was particularly special... something I fear may not be the case!

25. Gary   
Feb 03 2004 13:53

Why does everyone have to start saying the ball is going to be c**p before anything has been confirmed? Please at least give it a chance before coming to the conlusion that it is going to be rubbish. This kind of talk has already hit Union Ent's nights hard and so no one is finding out that the Union are actually running good nights - if you want a example, then go to the next Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock Night.

Feb 03 2004 15:02

It is impossible to be all things to all people; there are those who want a posh (read expensive) event with a posh dinner and a posh venue, but there are also those who want a pissup in the union (probably the majority). The problem that the Imperial ball has is that it tries to appeal to both parties.

This year they have been brave and a little optimistic. They have done the right thing to move it away from Imperial, but with that ticket price, people will find it hard to persuade themselves to go.

We are different from Oxford and Cambridge in that we don?t have a tradition of a ball to which EVERYONE goes. There is not the culture of paying a lot for a do at the end of the term where you know there?ll be lots of booze, lots of people and cheesy live music. In addition to this, dare I say it, the demographic at Oxbridge is a lot more homogenous than it is at Imperial, so there is not the problem (nor the benefit) of diversity in taste that we have here (witness the huge number of clubs and societies here, and the relatively poor performance of Union ents over recent years). We also do not have the wealth of cheap posh venues that they have at Oxbridge (although that?s our fault for pulling them down in the 60s).

My suggestion (and there?s no reason why anyone would listen) is that it will be difficult to persuade a thousand people to go to the Ally Pally ball. Instead, it would be better to be less ambitious, hold it at a smaller (though equally posh) venue, with a lower break even number. In time, this would become a tradition which people would expect and look forward to, and the numbers would gradually increase. It would also help to have it a bit later.

Having said that, I don?t wish to be curmudgeonly, and I enjoyed the last Ally Pally ball. It?s a great venue, and I hope it goes really well.

27. Paul   
Feb 03 2004 15:06

Gary, I really hope the ball isn't c**p... however, I feel there are one or two concerns that need to be considered BEFORE the arrangements are finalised in order to increase the chances of the ball being successful. These proposals seem to be trying to mimic the balls of 1999/2000 without any consideration for the huge changes in tastes and attitudes which have occurred since then!

Union ents is suffering because it didnt keep up with these changes meaning for a while we were not providing what the student base wanted. Sadly the reputation from that period has proven hard to get rid of despite the fact we now run a good programme based on current tastes. My main concern is that the ball will suffer the same fate if this year isnt a success. So far the only 'big-name' entertainment I have heard about which would fit the bill and be within the budget is Tony Blackburn... hardly good for our reputation!!

Maybe Im just being pessimistic with no reason. Or maybe Im just a little sad to see the end of the 'college-ball' which I have seen grow into a hugely respected and popular event over the last three years.

28. Seb   
Feb 03 2004 16:35

Almost everyone I've spoken to thought last years ball was excellent. The multi venue aspect worked well for the ents. Admitedly, I don't know many people that went to the SCR dinner, mostly because college catering just isn't seen as good value for money (we went to a restaurant instead).

If people want a posher dinner than the SCR/college catering dinner, then why not have the formal dinner somewhere nearby? The Polish Club on Exhibition Road can cater a largish number of people, so I'm sure there are venues available.

The buzz amongst my year (and I appreciate there are other demographics) seems to be "Not going to bother going to the Summer Ball this year, it sounds c**p, what shall we do to celebrate the end of our undergrad career instead?"

If this turns out to be a majority oppinion you won't get 1000 people buying a ticket, and next year people will avoid the summer ball on the basis of reputation. That would be a pity as the ents part of last summer ball was considered quite good, and "fixing" the formal dinner aspect by going to ally pally seems a bit like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

On top of that, with a breakeven of 1000 people, and a 60 quid ticket price, that ?60,000 at least to spend... this doesn't sound like good value for money. You could get one of the Museums for that (well, not the main hall of the Natural History museum, but you know what I mean). How much is costing to rent Ally Pally?

29. Seb   
Feb 03 2004 16:37

And if tradition is what we are aiming for, it sounds like there already is a tradition for "college balls". And I thought the last one actually managed to meet it's budget?

Feb 03 2004 17:00

What you have to remember about saying last years ball 'met its budget' is that it only happened becausee of a ?20K (?) 'donation' from college, would it have been as successful without that?

31. Seb   
Feb 03 2004 18:16

I heard is was 12k. About 1000 people attended.

So that would require raising the ticket price for the ents only (assuming that there is no cross subsidising going on between dinner and the ents) by about ?12 to ?20. I think the ents only ticket last year was something like ?25. That would put the ticket between ?40 and ?45, which is still less than Ally Pally.

32. Paul   
Feb 03 2004 18:33

I think last year was closer to 1300 people. Also, whilst they haven't given any guarantees, the article says that college may underwrite the event anyway so an ents ticket price of around ?30-35 would probably be realistic!

As for entertainment... I have spoken to the ents manager and he has a few ideas for cabaret acts, some of which I must admit look quite promising! Hopefully the entertainment may be pretty good afterall!!

33. Nia   
Feb 03 2004 19:14

I gather the idea is College will only agree to underwrite the event if the Union produce a sensible business plan i.e. having a realistic target attendance and charging ticket prices to cover costs at that attendance level. College would then soak up the damage in the event of target attendance not being met.

34. Seb   
Feb 03 2004 23:49

Underwriting an event is agreeing to cover unexpected losses (i.e. take on risk). It's not the same as subsidising an event. Underwriting is a useful facility and ought not to be abused, because it allows the Union to take a calculated gamble which is expected to pay off.

But if you treat underwriting like a subsidy, then College will stop underwriting summer balls and then when one makes a massive loss, the money will probably have to come out of next years c&S budgets or somesuch.

Feb 04 2004 10:04

Lets face it - if you want a dinner in a formal setting in (what appears) to be a nice location and nice food (i havent been), then you can go to the summerball and cough up the price because you want to :-)

If you want some event where you just get wasted to finish off your year, then I'm sure that ?65 would easily satisfy most people's thirst from the union, or indeed quite a few other places in london.

But lets just face it - no one is 'making' anyone want to go. If you dont like it, dont go and take yourself to your local pub for a few drinks. Otherwise, if you want a nice end, go to the Summer Ball.

Oh - and if think you can do better, guess you better run for DPFS next year....

36. Seb   
Feb 04 2004 23:15


And what if you want something in between, which is precisely what last years ball offered?

Deciding that the extra money wasn't worth it for the dinner aspect, I can't comment on whether the dinner was well recieved, but it seems to me that that could have been fixed without ditching the rest of the ents which were rather well recieved.


If you are going to make specific quotes, it would be nice for you to use my name. Ta. How much is the rent on Ally Pally then?

Feb 05 2004 00:00

Just to clear up a few facts:<ul><li>Last year the College gave the Union <b>£20K</b>. We don't have that this year.</li><li>There <i>will</i> be transport provided for people who need it (coaches from South Ken).</li><li>There are also 2000 car parking places and tube + bus links for those who wish to make other transport plans.</li><li>There are currently no plans to provide "ents only" tickets.</li><li>For those who think that we could done this event somewhere better ("You could get one of the Museums for that") with the same ticket price - you're wrong.</li>


38. amram   
Feb 05 2004 11:29

?55 rip off. Could have nice plush meal in south Ken catch a film or play, get some ice cream and still have change after the hackney carriage has taken one home!

And all this just to dance to some rather poor music with freaky, hairy bespeckled hermaphrodotic shemales who pass for women in the engineering departments!

No thanks. Amram will be sipping tea and listening to some Vivaldi's four seasons- heck i'd even prefer to listen to Wagner's entire ring cycle before I waste my money on this!

Take my advice chaps, buy some shares instead!

Feb 05 2004 12:55

Amram, as ever you talk drivel.

"?55 rip off. Could have nice plush meal in south Ken catch a film or play, get some ice cream and still have change after the hackney carriage has taken one home!"

unless you will stay in southken for the play/film (presumably curtosey of one of iCU's finest societies) then i think you will be mistaken. unless your standards are far lower than even mine.

I wish I had been able to end my time at uni with a ball at ally pally (yes. even not getting in for free) but many of the opinions here are the usual bringers of doom and gloom which sheem to shoot down any idea at ICU.

40. Nia   
Feb 05 2004 13:00

I couldn't disagree more with the notion that the quality of a theatre production is related to the price you pay to see it. Good theatre for O(?5) is not hard to find.

Feb 05 2004 14:04


"heck i'd even prefer to listen to Wagner's entire ring cycle before I waste my money on this!"

You'd be lucky to buy a copy for less than the price of a ball ticket! Unless you're lucky on ebay

42. amram   
Feb 05 2004 17:13

You all seem to have very expensive shopping habits. No wonder they speak of the huge student overdrafts. This almost makes me support tuition fees. Some clearly have more money than sense. Seriously though who would pay ?55 for this sham of a ball?

Feb 05 2004 17:47

I have a very serious problem of coughing up 40ish pounds for a dinner which I will most likely not enjoy.

The last Summerballs were really nice and good value for the ents only option, which AFAIK most people took.

Feb 05 2004 19:08


"Seriously though who would pay ?55 for this sham of a ball?"

How do you know it will be a "sham"?

You have made it clear that you are not interested in attending the event as it does not appeal to you, thats fine, personal tastes and all. However does it really mean that you have to start slagging it off? Do you have an active interest in trying to thwart the events chances of success by bad mouthing it?

45. amram   
Feb 05 2004 21:07

slagging off. I thought that's what the ball is for.

Feb 07 2004 00:45

Yep, the Cambridge balls include free champagne all night!

47. amram   
Feb 08 2004 02:05

Corinne what's Champagne got to do with it?

An overrated drink that has become so pedestrian as to be almost proletarian.

?55 rip off. ?5, reasonable. simple.

Cut out some of the expensive bits. The food will be c**p anyway. Why not invite a jolly Kebab salesman? Maybe bring in an ice cream van- they'd pay you! Indeed why not get KFC to cater the Event and tom t to compere...

Feb 08 2004 08:51

Amran its obvious you don't want a ball the event you are after is called end of term showcase..

49. amram   
Feb 08 2004 10:02

Not very thoughtful. no commas and poor spelling- it's amram missy!

50. tom t   
Feb 09 2004 10:14

er amram, not to be drawn into your usual diatribes, BUT I do cost considerably more than the Union could afford for an evening's work. xx

51. amram   
Feb 09 2004 17:35

At ?65 a head I am sure the Union could meet your cost Mr. Tibbits.

Everyone has a price. And as Live!'s favourite Socialist surely you should not wish to exploit the Student masses further?

I am sure you could make good tips if you wear a funny hat...

52. amram   
Feb 09 2004 17:37

This one would do...

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