This year’s SUSU Grad Ball was set to be one of the best ones yet, with big name acts, cheaper drinks, a full blown funfair, and food by the truckloads. But did it meet expectations?

We can tell you right now that it certainly did, and more. From 8pm, students were tumbling out of taxis, already intoxicated and ready to celebrate the end of their university lives. SUSU had pulled out all of the stops in decoration as Oceana was transformed by a Hollywood theme; its many rooms had been given iconic American flavours, including that of the Oscars and Gatsby.

Jamie Ings, DJSoc and Drop Division all kicked off the night in style in each room, allowing students to get in the party mood, while sweaty barmaids rushed around serving drinks or clearing glasses from every surface.
By 10pm, the venue had become filled by a sea of tuxedos and dresses, and every bar had rows of teens and twentysomethings desperate to line their stomachs with cocktails in order to survive the next eight hours. Playing in the Disco room, the Mariachis attracted both old and new fans with their Mexican-style folk, no doubt inspiring many to choose tequila as their next drink of choice.

The sheer size of Oceana soon became both a blessing and a curse; the stairs were clearly not always an option to get around as several ended up falling down and had to receive medical attention. The lifts were definitely a godsend to the girls suffering in sky-high stilletos.
By 11pm, the party was in full swing, both literally and figuratively; the Speakeasy with the Monroes in Gatsby’s definitely proved to be a treat for all. Many partygoers told us that they enjoyed the variation in the music and style provided throughout the night.

Ella Eyre at the Wireless Festival Launch. Credit: Birmingham Mail, Suzi Parsons.

Ella Eyre at the Wireless Festival Launch.
Credit: Birmingham Mail, Suzi Parsons.

However, the highlight of the evening came in the form of the headliner, Ella Eyre, who performed to a pumped-up crowd in the Icehouse. Grasping a glittering mike and surrounded by golden Oscar statues, Ella sang big hits while sporting even bigger hair, as students worshipped the 20-year-old while raving underneath a giant disco ball. She came to finish her set after an hour with her new song, If I Go, and the night had
officially reached its peak.

Ella Eyre’s performance in the Icehouse was followed by Lawson who kicked off their chart-topping set with the hit ‘Brokenhearted’. From the onset Lawson had a large crowd of girls swaying drunkenly along to their songs and even those who claimed to not have heard of them were soon belting it out. Next in the Icehouse was Gorgon City’s set which was long anticipated by many and they certainly delivered, drawing many people onto the dance floor.

Outside Oceana was the funfair with rides such as the dodgems, a ferris wheel, and some other spinning machine of terror whose name escapes us. The dodgems were pure carnage as riders relentlessly thrashed into each other; some inevitably Snapchatted their experiences before walking off with bruised knees and aching shoulders.

The ferris wheel had by far the longest queues while the questionably-named ‘mystical’ mirror maze was only a challenge to those on their 18th double vodka and coke. Other attractions included the penalty shoot-out tent and a classic American-style stall giving patrons the chance to win stuffed toys.

Next to the funfair stood the food trucks, which sold everything from hot dogs to Hot Wok noodles; by 1am, the hungry masses were stuffing their faces with calorific treats. It was surreal watching smartly dressed students, who had moments before feigned sophistication in the Gatsby room, throw themselves into the rides and at the food. It’s no surprise that many attires didn’t stay spotless for long, as ketchup, coke, tears and mascara were soon splattered across them.

Back inside, Blue’s DJ set had started playing, their music pounding out of the speakers as Oceana’s floors throbbed to the bass. The stark contrast between the dancefloor classics played by them and the house tracks played by Gorgon City in the next room meant that it was impossible to get bored.

At around 3am, Grad Ball’s pace inevitably began slowing down as students began filtering outside, desperately trying to find somewhere to rest their feet. Nevertheless, the party raged on inside until the end, especially in the Bar Quarter, as Surge Radio’s DJ set continued to play everything from pop anthems to cheesy favourites. The night eventually came to a slow close at 4am as exhausted and emotional students headed out for the famous survivors’ photo.

There is no doubt that SUSU’s Grad Ball was a huge success this year, giving all final years the perfect send off from university. As one graduand put it: “I’ve been to four grad balls, and this one has been by far the best one!”

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