This central statement has been behind the build-up for this year’s Summer Ball, and yet enthusiasm for the formal dinner has not been the instant sure fire hit that feedback from last year’s event and format has led us to believe. So why is it that when presented with the opportunity to congregate amidst a sea of tuxedos and ball gowns over a three course meal at Imperial, there are many opting out of ending the year over dinner at Imperial? Or even more pressingly, why aren’t students accepting what the Union has changed for them specifically?
This year’s formal dinner is due to be held in the Senior Common Room at a cost of £40, while entertainment tickets cost £35 to see the likes of Ms Dynamite and electro swing outfits perform.
Though the change to a festival format in 2011 was the result of a decline in the sale of formal dinner tickets year-on-year, this year’s formal dinner tickets mark a decrease in cost. Whereas in 2010 a formal dinner ticket would set one back by £85 (rising to £90), this year saw joint tickets rise from £70 to £75.
Following last year’s change in format from its prior formal beginnings, a common concern was that the Summer Ball, above all, “should be about having a special evening with our friends” as summarized by one individual. One commenter from our Summer Ball survey last year remarked that “to celebrate the end of our time at Imperial, we don’t really want big-name bands.”
Groups of students have suggested holding their version of a formal dinner elsewhere, whether privately at home or at a restaurant, though with some openly admitting that the price of their own events “could match that of the formal dinner itself”, there must be further reasoning behind why the formal dinner is not an instant-buy prospect. A range of reasons could immediately be raised, from the pricing, however reduced, to the location.
Feedback was the reasoning behind ensuring that the festival format was removed for this year. The Union have openly changed the format, yet the formal dinner has reverted to pre-2011 enthusiasm. While some consider the Summer Ball to be “an integral part of the university experience”, as the deadline approaches for the formal dinner tickets, we will see whether Imperial will recall its past desire for a formal dinner, and whether students will buy into a format that they actively had a part in organising.