Volume 9, Issue 9
Thursday Night. Law Ball. The last hurrah before we abandon our social lives and race towards exams. The night that a lot of us look forward to, partly because any chance to peel yourself away from level 3 and put on your dancing shoes is a good one and partly because, well, there’s an open bar.
For a ticket price of $130 I thought I would be getting A-grade value for money. I don’t think that happened this year. Some people who didn’t get the opportunity to go to law ball, whether it was too inconvenient or too expensive, might be wondering what they missed out on. Let’s break it down:
Let me put it this way, if you served the food we were given on My Kitchen Rules, all hell would break loose. Manu would be weeping Frenchly over the sauce and the salt-heavy, flavor-light mains. And no doubt Pete would be asking why the contestants thought they could cheat diners by boiling up mystery-meat filled Latina raviolis for entrée.
And don’t get me started on dessert. At a three-course sit down dinner we somehow only got two thirds of what we paid for. Once again, teeny tiny canapé tartlets were served. To paraphrase Zoolander: was this a dessert for ants? It was certainly at least three times too small.
Now, a minimum food and beverage package is affordable, and that is important. Moreover, we know the food is there to soak up the alcohol. But this begs the question: Why do we agree to pay $130 for a ticket that incorporates food that is pretty average in quality, and drives up costs when we’re really there to drink and dance?
It could be a matter of keeping up appearances. Or perhaps we aren’t really providing the experience that students at a top law school deserve without a three-course meal. Wanting to deliver a great night is understandable, but the fact is that the quality isn’t there, and it feels like a rip off. Let’s ditch this stupid dinner, pay less and get some decent canapés out there instead.
Well here at least we got off to a good start: some RnB to get the night moving was a fantastic idea. Some Macklemore, some Shaggy – all of this was a good way to coax people onto the dance floor.
What was less fantastic was the fact that, after 15 minutes we were still moving to substantially the same beat. By that time, most of us had used up our signature dance moves five times over. The Sultry Booty Swing and the Awkward Law Student Shuffle™ were painfully overemployed because the music lacked variation. They may also have been painfully overemployed because many of us cannot successfully drop it like it’s hot, but that is beside the point.
The music did move on, but few, if any, dance staples such as those found on the Australian Top 40 were played. Not even Mr Brightside got a look in, and that Killers classic is practically mandatory at party events.
Frankly, this was unimpressive. It is one thing to compromise on food quality to an extent, but the number one reason law students go to these events is to dance and celebrate. For $130 we should get a DJ who knows how to skillfully mix tracks and provide a balanced range of danceable music. It’s hard to please everyone at these events, but more diverse tunes were sorely needed. In future, we could do better than dancing endlessly to RnB and 90s hits in a way that goes far beyond the ironic enjoyment of some old favorites.
If you were prepared to wait 30 minutes for a series of over-exposed photos, it was worth it.
Honestly, this was done pretty well. Transport to the venue was prompt and the DJ was reasonably decent. It was nice to see that there were two separate dance floors to give people some choice, and two bars so that the line for drinks was manageable.
However, overcrowding at the ATM was problematic. In future, if the bar is cash only and there are no passes out of the venue to allow partygoers to find other ATMs, then let people know so we aren’t all drawn like moths to the flame that is the one ATM in the Colonial Hotel.
Where do we go from here?
In all seriousness, something needs to change in the way the Law Ball is run next year. Other law students have written at length about the exorbitant cost of the tickets, which is absolutely part of the equation. The other side of the matter is that you should get what you pay for and quite frankly that didn’t happen this year.
Ultimately, there needs to be some debate in the LSS about alternatives that provide better value for money. We know, for example, that Monash provides a cocktail night for its JD law students in addition to a law ball at a cost of $60 for LSS members. There are a lot of pluses involved here: all of the dancing, all of the drinking, and plenty of bite-sized tasty goodness brought around on platters over the course of the evening for less cost.
Now, I’m not proposing that we put on exactly the same event, dollar for dollar. We do not want to repeat the Spring Social - we probably want a different kind of event. No doubt it would be possible to put on a cheaper but high quality cocktail night that differed in style, location and formality from the Spring Social to address the risk of a ‘repeat’ feel.
Specific suggestions aside, the point I am making is that where other cheaper, high quality options exist, they should be actively explored with a view to creating an event that is better value overall and more equitable in terms of affordability. Even if any action taken does not translate into changing the event altogether, perhaps we need to at least consider better priced venues. The problem is that I do not believe this has happened so far. I have not seen evidence of debate or proposals for reform published or disseminated by the LSS to reduce ticket prices. I may be incorrect, but it seems that the status quo is largely adopted from year to year.
If, as it turns out, I’m completely on the wrong track and we can’t bring down prices without compromising a good time - then maybe we need to get more creative with our funding and our sponsors. I imagine that could support an entire essay by itself, so I won’t say more other than to raise it as a point for further consideration.
Finally, to really generate reform, the student populace as a whole needs to be included in any discussions that follow. I haven’t been around for a particularly long time, but I have yet to hear the LSS ask for student input on what could or should be done to change the ball to improve value, whether that involves a few minor alterations or a different kind of night altogether.
It is safe and convenient to put on a ball at the same venue every year with the same average music and food, but I would like to see the LSS rise to the challenge and become more creative in the future. Give us a ball that we can afford, but also give us a ball that is worth what we pay.
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De Minimis sent the first iteration of the “Law Ball Review” article to MULSS for comment when it was first received. In response, MULSS sent us the following. The original “Law Ball Review” article was amended before publication, in part due to MULSS’s response. MULSS put considerable time and effort into MULSS’s response and so De Minimis has agreed to publish it, on this occasion, in order to ensure clarity of process and proper recognition.
Response from the MULSS Leadership Team
Thank you to De Minimis for giving us the opportunity to respond to the article, “Law Ball”.
The MULSS Leadership Team respects the fact that students will have varying opinions with regards to the way Law Ball is run, including music tastes and actual mouth tastes. We will therefore not address these subjective issues at this stage, however we would like to correct some objective factual errors made in the article.
The MULSS welcomes constructive criticism. Feel free to direct any more thoughts on the Law Ball to firstname.lastname@example.org or have a chat to the Activities Directors Dom or Henry.
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