George’s 10 Dos and Don’ts for a 'Sick Formal Experience'

(almost 3 years ago)


  • Get stuck into all the traditions at Hatfield. The Freps will be able to tell you more about these! IMHO traditions are what make our Formals unique and the best in the Uni, if not the country. Watch out for the older years as they know the score and tend to cut loose whenever they come back to College.
  • Wear the right thing. Generally speaking, guys wear a suit and tie, and girls tend to wear smart dresses but it’s more flexible for them. I’m told heels are a nightmare in Durham due to the cobbles and hills but it’s never far to walk. On top of that you wear your gown (normally comes part of the Freshers’ Pack, keep an eye out for that from the Senior Freshers’ Reps!). Not all the Colleges have gowned formals but I feel it adds to the atmosphere, especially when you’re in the shadow of the Cathedral.
  • Bring money for drinks. It’s £7 for a bottle of wine or £2 for a 2L bottle of soft drink. There’s also water and juice on the tables so don’t worry about going thirsty!
  • Go to the loo before you go into the hall. You can’t stand up once High Table (the College Officers and Mentors) come in so don’t get caught short!
  • Bring mates from outside Hatfield. I’ve brought loads of friends from other Colleges and they’ve all, without fail, loved it. I’ve even taken my parents to Formal. They started off expecting a quiet night but ended up staying in Klute ‘til closing so I call the evening a success.
  • Try and go to one of the twice-termly Guest Nights. They’re Black Tie and include a cheese course, as well as generally nicer food than usual.
  • The JCR Exec will invite Fresher guests to each Formal. When you get an invitation, go! They’re experts at getting the most out of your Formal, whether you want to hear the latest gossip, meet new people, or have a party.
  • Go to the bar afterwards, even if you didn’t go to the meal that night. The atmosphere’s always buzzing and the Sessions Table (Session by name, session by nature) is always home to sports socials and general fun and games. Even if you’re not going out, it’s always hilarious telling your mates what they did after being a bottle of wine and 3 Jaegerbombs in at 9 PM. Don't forget your Campus card and ID!


  • Stand up, take your gown off or get your phone out.
  • Throw up, belt out the UK top 40, throw food, get naked, climb out of a window or generally be a prick to the catering staff (trust me, I’ve seen it all and it didn’t go down well).

Other than that, things are pretty relaxed as long as you apply common sense! The Vice President (Discipline) will quickly tell you if you’re taking things too far. On a side note, it’s definitely worth trying to go to other Colleges’ Formals. From experience, the majority aren’t as good as ours but it’s always fun to have a change of scenery and see how the other halves live! Trevs are cute as they basically ripped off our traditions in a slightly worse way. Castle’s probably the best behind us as they have Formals in their Great Hall. It’s a properly Harry Potter experience!

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