Lion in Winter Ball - "Around the World in Eighty Days"

Li Tong Yip, 2nd Year Law

(almost 3 years ago)

‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ is a classic adventure novel by the French writer, Jules Verne, and it could not have more accurately themed this year’s Lion in Winter Ball (LIWB). LIWB is Hatfield’s biggest event, both in terms of scale (an action-packed 12-hour worth of games and entertainment for over 700 attendees) and glamour (a whopping £62 for just an entry ticket). Unlike other events, LIWB prides itself on the originality it offers, centring different themes every year. This year’s LIWB adapted the French title, to celebrate our diverse and inclusive college community.

For those interested, signups will be at the end of Michaelmas Term: watch Hatfield JCR or your Freshers Facebook page for more details! For my Freshers’ LIWB signup, it was on a Saturday morning and there was a beeline queue extending from Rectory all the way to C stairs. As a Hatfielder –and Durham University student– through and through, Fridays are Klute nights and naturally, we know of no Saturday mornings. Therefore, the sight of so many dozens of people queuing for LIWB on a Saturday morning was an eye-opener. However, this came as no surprise since tickets for LIWB are highly sought after, even amongst other colleges. Cutting it short(er by hundreds of people), LIWB was sold out.

In the few weeks leading up to the ball, it was the talk of the town. Our friends from colleges all around Durham –even Castle, our supposed ‘rival’– were getting ready to attend the party. Being the biggest event in Hatfield, LIWB has many restrictions. Those who are seen loitering on college grounds without a valid LIWB ticket, including Hatfield residents, may be subjected to a fine of at least £100. Such offences ‘may amount to theft, trespass, or deception’ or, befitting the theme of world travel, illegal entry into a country! Therefore, make sure to have your event wristbands on for the full duration of the ball, which are to be collected a week before in Hatfield’s chapel. LIWB is held on the first Friday of March annually and the day of the year has finally arrived. High hopes were built and remember what people said about hoping? Don’t get your hopes high, because at Hatfield, they are bound to be surpassed.

‘Chapter 14: In which Phileas Fogg travels the whole length of the wonderful valley of Ganges without thinking it worth a look.’

Though incomparable to the natural beauty of the Ganges, the decorations around college were immaculate –there were balloons, flowers and a pailou seemingly imported from ancient China. However, unlike the phlegmatic character of Fogg, everyone was mesmerized by the simple elaborateness.

Although it was drizzling, it did not dampen our enthusiasm. Instead, it made everything more magical, the rain drops shone under the spotlights as if diamonds were falling from the sky. The best is yet to come, for the only thing that shines brighter than diamonds is the sparkling glass of complimentary champagne –sadly yes, a glass, not free-flowing. Regardless, the excitement was already overflowing and the clinking of glasses only served to symbolize the start of LIWB night.

With this, we embarked on a journey around college for twelve hours. The first stall to run to would be the Henna stall, as their customized temporary tattoos attract an insane crowd. The tattoos originated as a form of body art practiced in India, Africa and the Middle East, though painted only on the hands for our occasion. A visit to this stall was the perfect way to start the night, since India was the place where the story unfolded. With twelve hours to spare, Fogg rescues Aouda...

At LIWB, it will never be short of excitement. There were a variety of games and entertainment around college, most of them located at J stairs and the dining hall. That’s right, even in our (sacred) dining hall, it was the host for ‘crazy golf’ and a mock casino, accompanied by a cappella performances by the Northern Lights. The mock casino brought the theme to life, since the French narrative would not have existed without the £20,000 bet by Fogg.

A visit to the marquee is mandatory. Situated outside the bar (such as for Freshers’ Week) or in the tennis court, but one place or another, that is where the fun is always at. Drown yourself in the catchy tunes by DU Big Band and The Quaddies, whether you’re a jazz or pop-rock fanatic! The most anticipated event was Silent Disco (apparent from the lack of headphones) as it was the perfect way to enjoy music without the deafening protests from our neighbours, at three in the morning.

For a 12-hour event, food is an indispensable part. As the theme suggested, there were cuisines from all over the world, catered by food stalls such as Asian Project, Fat Hippo and Papa Ganoush. Attendees spent the bulk of their time at these stalls, since it was an opportunity –excuse– to explore the different cultures. As the saying goes, ‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are’ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

The long-awaited –literally, a 12-hour wait– part of the ball would be the Survivals’ Photoshoot! Not many can battle the food coma or the liquor, with the number of LIWB survivors said to be less than half of what the night started with. Think you can last until the end? Prove it, join LIWB! For those up (pun intended) for a greater challenge, join the LIWB Committee!

‘What had the journey brought him? Nothing, it could be said. Nothing, that it, except for a charming wife who, however unlikely it may seem, made him the happiest of men.’

According to The Student Room, ‘one fifth of British students meet the love of their life on campus’ and it is rumoured that at Hatfield, the percentage is as high as 70%. With the right amount of destiny and chance, love will blossom like forget-me-nots this spring –wearing the blue and yellow of our college colours. In all, LIWB was a night to remember and just like the French title, LIWB is a classic worth (re)visiting.

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