REVIEW: Grad Ball 2016


  • A special and memorable night, at a fantastic venue

Much better than last year, would have been five stars if not for the issues with the bar


It’s been a week since the 2016 Grad Ball, held at Southampton Guildhall. Now that our hangovers have gone (hopefully!), how did we feel about the event? What was good about it, and what could be improved?

The decision to hold this year’s Grad Ball at the Guildhall was undoubtedly a response to the criticism given to last year’s event, which was held at Oceana. And despite the fact that the limited-capacity Guildhall was not the first choice (licensing and negotiation issues scuppered the chance to stage it at the Ageas Bowl or the Ferry Terminal), the decision to hold the event there certainly paid off, with the general atmosphere of the night being that of an actual ball rather than a standard night out. The use of the square outside the venue added essential gravitas to the event, and the addition of fairground rides were well-received.

DJ Fresh at Grad Ball, copyright Oli Crump

The headline acts themselves were somewhat overshadowed by the inclusion of ‘massaoke’, a mass karaoke session with famous songs played by a live band – including someone with a keytar(!) – and the lyrics to classics such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘500 Miles’ displayed on screen. This was such a great innovation, and received Of the headliners, Sub Focus seemed to have the best reception, with their engagement of the crowd being impressive. Overall, the atmosphere of the event was jubilant and fun, with no real trouble occurring.

Throughout this year’s Union events, there has been a clear focus on reducing the number of acts hired, with a focus on ensuring that no badly-received acts would perform, and this approach has paid off yet again.

Massaoke Band WITH A KEYTAR!!, copyright Oli Crump


Chris, a Film & English student, said that ‘The location was so much classier than last year and it felt like you got your money’s worth, it was a shame about the steep bar prices and that it ran drier than a riverbed in the African Savannah’. For many, much of the excitement of the night came from the outdoor fairground rides, with dodgems, a ferris wheel and a sizzler ride, and indeed they were popular all night long. Sophie, a Geography student, mentioned that ‘The rides were great but you wouldn’t want to be drunk on them! Also it was a shame that the bar ran out of vodka, but I loved the GIF photobooth‘.

MC for the evening, copyright Oli Crump

Even though the event was sold out, many wondered why the room inside the Guildhall wasn’t full. This was due to the licensing conditions placed on the Union.

The only real disappointments of the night itself were the slow nature of the bar staff, the sheer lack of bar space for the 1500 attendees, and the expensive alcohol (£2.50 for a single vodka mixer, which was a special offer) and the fact that the bar ran out of vodka at around midnight, which meant that the price of singles became £3.20.

Despite this, a great night was seemingly had by many, with the majority staying until 2am. Overall, the Union and the Grad Ball committee can be congratulated on an excellent event, and a worthy send-off to the final-year students.


Deputy Editor of the Wessex Scene for 2015/16. I often write News, Politics and Opinion pieces. As well as writing for the Scene I can be found in the Surge Radio studio, where I am the Head of News. Also, as I'm new to twitter and desperate, follow me!! @95moliver

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