I’m definitely not the kind of person who procrastinates on my work; oddly enough, I’m way more likely to procrastinate on nonacademic things I have to do like laundry and grocery shopping and on fun things like hanging out with friends. Blogging falls under the fun things that gets subjected to my procrastination every once in a while, so I’m sorry that I haven’t been the best with updating as things happen. If I ever get around to explaining everything that has been going on in the last week and a half, you’ll understand why blogging has taken a back seat to, let’s say, sleep. But I seem to have a spare waking moment, so I’ll fill you all in on the Keble Ball last Saturday.
I had originally intended on getting ready for the ball at one of my dance friend’s place, but things got really confusing so I ended up getting almost completely ready for the ball at my own place and then took a taxi to Dan’s to finish. I wasn’t going to subject him to the boring girly processes of hair and makeup, but I needed someone to help zip up my dress. Not that he was going to do that, but his building has a lot easier of access to girls willing to help than mine, hence the “getting ready” at Acland 😉 It also meant that I only had a three minute walk to the ball’s entrance queue in high heels and a floor length dress, all in the cold.
And that was the running theme all night/morning: holy moly it was cold! I mean, seriously, it was the beginning of MAY! By now at home, I’d be perpetually in shorts and t-shirts, with Uggs only being worn as a fashion statement and not as a necessity. But here in Oxford, I’m still wearing my winter coat and my scarves regularly see the meager amount of sunlight each day. Needless to say, a strapless ball gown doesn’t lend itself well to a peacoat and I was at a serious risk for developing frostbite. Then dun-dun-da-duh! Partner comes in and saves the day and the girl by pulling out of his wardrobe an extra heavy jacket. It may seem counterintuitive, but while a dress with a girl’s peacoat would have looked entirely ridiculous, a dress with a guy’s jacket that is obviously too large for her works perfectly. And, to assuage my inevitable guilt complex that would have made an appearance, this was only a spare jacket, so Dan had one to keep him warm as well. Potential crisis #1: Averted.
After getting zipped into my dress and doing the obligatory unveiling, I started to get concerned about it’s being a little loose at the top, despite having gotten it altered. Sure enough, when I tested the dress’s ability to hold itself up in the privacy of Dan’s bathroom, it epicly failed and I began kind of panicking. No one wants to spend an entire ball holding her own dress up. I found a strap that came with the dress’s tag and hooked it on; at first I thought it would ruin the look of the dress, but sacrifices must be made for the sake of modesty. And honestly it didn’t turn out too bad. Potential crisis #2: Averted.
Finally around 7pm we left Acland in a large group and walked over to queue for the ball. The champagne reception wasn’t beginning until 7:30 and the actual ball areas weren’t opening until 8:30, so we unknowingly had 90 minutes of biting cold because the ball committee had been unprepared for the chill and didn’t have enough heaters even inside the actual ball areas. We met up with some friends from the ballroom team, so we made like penguins (with the guys in penguin suits and one girl in a furry shawl) and huddled for warmth, shuffling forward in the clump every time the line moved. We had no choice but to frequently break away from the huddle to take photos; someone made the excellent point that none of us were ever going to look as good during the night as we looked right then, so pictures became obligatory. This also meant that for the sake of vanity, the girls all had to pass our coats/temples of warmth to the nearest person not in that particular photo while we smiled to hide our chattering teeth. Sometime during all this frozen paparazzi time, I realized that if I half hid behind another person, I only had to take Dan’s coat off of half of my arm! So only half of me would end up a frozen Jenna popsicle and the other half could remain just lightly frostbitten. Of course there were some times where even a pretty picture was not worth it and I stayed in the jacket.
The ball opened and everyone rushed inside in search of food and warmth, ourselves included. Throughout the quadrangles, MCR, JCR, music room, and college bar there were food stands with a variety of options for both food (substantial things like falafel, burgers, sausages, tacos, and sushi, and sweet choices like crepes, doughnuts, a chocolate fountain, and some incredible cake-pops and mini desserts) and drinks (an absinthe bar, hot ciders, cocktails, multiple general drink bars, and The Missing Bean). They were actually serving all night long, so there wasn’t really any need to rush to stock up on sustenance, but everyone was so hungry by that point that no one really bothered to pace themselves. We ended up in what was called Christine’s Room–the ball was Phantom of the Opera themed, though other than the names of the areas, the theme really didn’t come across at all–beginning the night with those cake pops and mini desserts. Who said dinner had to come before dessert? 😉
All the rooms were really crowded because it was so unbearably cold outside, even for the native English. The tents set up around the quads for dancing were heated by both some overhead heaters and general body heat, but regardless much of the night’s activities were determined by their proximity to heat at the times where we were coldest and enjoying the fresh air when we could afford a bit of shivering. I spent the whole night hanging out with Dan, it was too risky to separate because with 1600 people and splotchy cell phone service you were never quite sure of when you would next find someone, and we bounced back and forth between his friends from Keble, the Engineering Lab, and our dance teammates. Luckily we had all decided before people scattered too much/got too drunk to meet back in one of the tents for the Beyonce tribute act. That’s how much of the night was: lose people, find others, lose them during your search for a heater or a seat, find the original people again. But it worked. I felt like I got to spend an even amount of time with everyone we wanted to see and no one was neglected.
I hadn’t known what to expect from the ball, but there was a lot more to do than just dance. There was a hookah bar which neither of us indulged in, a swinging carnival ride thing that was too cold to do, but a really cute little area of traditional carnival games where you could actually win little stuffed prizes. We did the one where you have to roll three balls into the same color holes to win, and since the ball was one of those all-inclusive events, we could try as many times as we needed to win. Dan did it in three and chose a penguin. I did it in a considerably larger number and got a ducky, promptly naming it Agnes (from Despicable Me, awesome movie).
It was a great, and exhausting night. I did have to deal with my dress getting caught on the stones in my shoes and my feet freezing up so much that they gave out for a while as well as the strap I had put on my dress breaking and requiring the use of a replacement I had the good fortune to bring. But none of that could diminish the fun I had spending the whole night with Dan and my dance friends in a rare chance for finery extending into the wee hours of the morning (I believe Dan and I headed out at 4, an hour after city codes mandated the switch to a “silent disco” that I thought sounded really lame). He walked me home and I’m pretty sure we were both asleep before our heads hit our respective pillows, thankfully without dreams of a monkey music box.
Oh, and as for the coats being plural, Dan gave up his actual coat to me on the walk from Acland back to mine at the end of the night. I had already changed back into my street clothes, which had not included a coat, so he ignored by utterly false protests that I was warm enough and gave me his coat for the walk back. Potential crisis #3: Averted ❤