Ball is one of those large-scale events on campus that carry different meanings across the entire student population. Some would treat it as a rare occasion to dress up for a fun time with friends, while some really do take to the novelty of taking a romantic interest out and celebrating the essence of chivalry over a limited time, because chivalry requires too much commitment on a daily.
The rumble and hype started off even before ticket sales, with WhatsApp conversations about bringing groups of friends together, potential dresses to rent and the nervous unpackaging of Taobao shipments— evening dresses packed in tiny plastic bags. Other than the usual stream of academic-related torment, there comes a sense of relief and achievement from the sudden investment in fine-tuning one’s appearances, whether through watching one’s carbohydrate intake or running a few more laps. My personal efforts in “pre-ball” dieting turned into a complete shitshow, as my hyperawareness only made me eat my stress away.
Other than sweating, pulling up to PJ Hilton was both exhilarating and confusing. Swap out the usual round-framed glasses for contact lenses, the usual Superstars for stilettos and a change of ill-fitting cargos for iron-pressed slacks was a sea of shiny, beautiful faces that I could vaguely recognise. Maybe it wasn’t their appearances? Maybe it was just me being distracted by how uncomfortable my tight pants were, or how I thought about the compliments I wasn’t going to receive?
Besides the door gifts and food, the only other tangible way of acknowledging that ball happened was through the ridiculous amount of photos taken that night. MONGA’s photographers aside, everyone with a working camera phone was shutter-happy that night. Just like how old habits die hard, the grey walls of Hilton (the shiner, more textured version of its Monash counterpart) served as a familiar backdrop for the attendants’ stream of Instagram posts.
For uncultured swines like myself who attempts (and fails) to tell the difference between bossa nova and jazz, the cover band performing at Ball was definitely a delight to accompany along with the first few dishes. Snorts and glances exchanged following the emcee’s corny one-liners definitely helped bring my friends and I closer that night. As for the Mr. and Ms. Monash segment, the nominees’ sense of self-awareness only brought more charm towards their common narrative of “I’m not seriously trying to win this, my friends nominated me weeks ago and now I’m here” during their solo performances.
Without alcohol, Ball was a great opportunity to witness Monash students look their best while behaving their best. While some had already made their way to the afterparty, most guests were seen bouncing to the performers’ cue, reciting lyrics of Beyonce and Katy Perry just like a nursery rhyme. Slices of cake with Monash’s logo printed on were definitely a nice way for students to de-stress in a non-aggressive manner. As much as I could enjoy as an angsty undergraduate with an omnipresent backache, I knew I was ready to wrap myself in a blanket and call it a night once the clock struck 11. Instead, we headed to the mamak to gossip and reflect on our entire university experience, all thanks to Ball.
Article by LingJie Tuang
Photos by Desmond Chin and Ivan Liew