You shall go to the Ball!

This was most definitely a night to remember; the dynamic trio that is the Durham University French Society, Hispanic Society and Italian Society all collaborated and organised the most extravagant Ball especially for those of us studying Romance Languages.

For those who don’t already know about Durham’s reputation for spectacular Balls, they are held annually by different subjects and societies and provide the ultimate excuse to get dressed up to the nines and celebrate in great company – not to forget the delicious food and wine which is provided.

To say I was excited beforehand does not cut the mustard – I had great expectations for the evening and these were easily surpassed. Held at the stunning Beamish Hall Hotel, just half an hour from the centre of Durham, the Ball’s setting was quite literally breath-taking. The attention to detail of the venue’s decoration was perfect – French, Spanish and Italian flags were everywhere, and the music was often in those languages too.

As we entered the hotel dressed in our finest black tie and, in my case, shoes which were more aesthetically pleasing than comfortable to walk in, we were welcomed into the Great Hall with an elegant champagne reception. Admiring each other’s ball gowns, we mingled and embraced the joie de vivre of being Durham students. We gathered in groups to get our photos taken by the beautiful open fireplace, chatted with coursemates from our different language classes and took even more photos of our own for those all-important Instagram shots.

Next came the decadent three-course meal, a delicious continental array of dishes including homemade green olive focaccia with sundried tomato, basil and feta, followed by a main course of Beef Brasato with roasted vegetables and fondant potatoes. The highlight of the meal was most definitely the coffee Crème Brûlée dessert – as my neighbour was too full by this point I very kindly offered to finish her dessert too! Even the tables were stunningly decorated, adorned with glittering streamers in the colours of the French flag, whole bulbs of garlic and vintage wine bottles turned candle-holders tied with red gingham ribbon.

Later we enjoyed the classic Durham-style ‘Ents’ – the live music, photo booth and candyfloss machine. The dancefloor was a blur of colours and sequins as we danced the night away to French, Spanish and Italian music. The continental vibes were truly ever-present and for me it was without a doubt a highlight of the term, and indeed my first year at Durham as a whole. Going to a Ball exclusively for your subject is so exciting and definitely worth it! It differs from a college formal as you can bond with friends from your subject and branch out a little more.

As we clambered onto the coach on the way back to Durham, Enrique Iglesias’ Bailando still stuck in our heads for good, all we could do was look forward to the next Ball! It will have a lot to live up to…

Photo credits to the magnificent Rob Irish (
Visit the Romance Languages Societies websites:
Durham University French Society
Durham University Hispanic Society
Durham University Italian Society


Kathryn Bowman

Kathryn Bowman

Bonjour! I’m Kathryn, a first-year Modern Languages undergraduate living at St. Aidan’s College. I’m studying French, German and Italian this year; it’s safe to say that I’m fascinated by words and languages! Alongside my trilingual studies, I am a lover of travelling, nature, poetry in different languages, gluten-free cake and all things arty too. I hate to admit it but I couldn’t live without Instagram!
Kathryn Bowman

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