Words by The Spark’s Entertainment Editor, Lois Plummer.
The setting of a lilac sun signalled the start of the biggest and longest student night of the
year: the 2019 Summer Ball.
Excitement buzzed as students flocked to the open green behind the Students’ Union, adorned with glitter and festival-wear, ready for our very own end-of- year campus festival.
The brisk summer evening was graced with endless festival essentials: the flashing neon of fairground rides, the delicious smells coming from the food vans, and not to mention the nightlong supply of music.
The Big Top Main Stage hosted an array of talent, from Shiv Varma opening at 8pm to Sigala at 1:30am, the much-anticipated headlining act of the night.
Under a white summer moon, students gathered star-struck in the festival tent, excited for the first professional DJ set of the night to start.
As students danced with a rainbow of VKs in hand, the multi-genre DJ Shiv Varma proved to be more than just a warm-up act. The blend of old-school hip-hop mixed with modern dance and deep house made for an invigorating set leading seamlessly into the electrified grime of Steel Banglez.
His most recent hit, “Fashion Week,” was an obvious crowd favourite alongside other famous tracks such as “Bad,” released late 2017, and “Your Lovin,’” his popular summer 2018 release.
Such an exhilarating set was followed suit by the undeniable dance pop flair that defines RAYE’s discography. Students rushed to the tent at 11:15pm for her set to begin, and they were not disappointed, with the beloved hits “Decline” and “Friends” making a welcome appearance.
Wearing a Reading Uni hoodie, interacting with the crowd, and giving killer live vocals and choreography; she was certainly a highlight of the night.
At midnight came the production trio, Disciples, filling the night with the sensational drama of their deep house dance tracks like “They Don’t Know” and their latest funk-infused house hit “No Ties.”
The festival-themed production and lighting have to be praised for enhancing each set throughout the night; confetti and kaleidoscopic designs seemed to float in the air on a cloud of colour-changing neon.
Out of bright reds and vivid blues came Sigala’s long-awaited set, a blend of well-loved classics and new chart-topping tracks. “Came Here For Love” and “Just Got Paid” featured as the crowd-pleasing favourites, continuing the party well on past midnight, while old-school electronic and trance samples from the likes of Avicii and Alice Deejay made exciting appearances.
And the night didn’t just end there, with the music continuing well into the early morning, as the official Reading Summer Ball Survivors will remember.
The organisers this year worked hard to cater to everybody’s tastes, as many students gathered in the main room of the Students’ Union where another stage had been set up.
The UMBRA alternative stage showcased its very own indoor indie party, hosting the likes of Indoor Pets, Larkins and handstand parade. Along with the endless indie anthems and neon pink lighting, students were delightfully surprised to see the return of our resident Union DJs in the much-beloved cheese and RnB rooms.
The musical talent of the night wasn’t just limited to the professionals either, as 3sixty hosted it’s very own karaoke session. Classics from Grease and Whitney populated the night, and with the best karaoke performance getting the chance to win two weekend Reading festival tickets, the competition was on.
On the grounds, heaps of students queued for entry into the free funfair, gracing the dodgems in heels and suits alike, alongside the spin ride of daunting heights. With drinks, samosas and burgers in hand, the atmosphere was fun and casual with a touch of collegiate Americana; buzzes of neon, food vans and freshly cut grass modernised UoR’s very own Woodstock.
With the sky lightening in hue, and sunrise on its way, the strong were separated from the weak as 6am approached. The official Reading Survivors had been identified: tired, danced- out, but eager to support the night-long party until the bitter end. Students were thrilled to receive warm breakfasts and coffee from our beloved campus Co-Op as a reward for their patriotic efforts.
For me, the Summer Ball was an exciting and unforgettable experience; a fitting farewell to the 2018-2019 school year. I’ll be waiting for its re-appearance in our calendars next year.