Me and some really nice classmates (WY, JJ, AH, GE)
There were high expectations for the INSEAD Summer Ball, which is an event not to be missed while you’re in Fonty. Up to the day itself, people were vying for tickets which had been sold out long ago, even though tickets were fairly expensive. I paid an early bird price of 130 Euros (about S$260) which got progressively higher after that.
Because of the high price and the glamour of the Ball, expectations were also high. We heard stories of how, during the previous Ball, the organisers ran out of champagne, which is a big no-no especially at INSEAD. This year we were told by our Dean that there would be no fireworks, which disappointed a lot of people. The reason was that INSEAD had to be more conservative and sensitive in the light of the financial crisis. There was thus a heightened expectation that the money saved from these fireworks had better be deployed in other parts of the Ball.
Wanting to find out more details, I chatted with an INSEAD administrator who explained to me that the Ball was in fact loss-making and that INSEAD had received complaints in previous years from residents about the noise created. They also ran into French bureaucracy when applying to have fireworks. I relayed this information to other classmates who were surprised at this. And, with all of us having had Managerial Accounting training in P2, we were curious as to how efficiently things were planned (even though I’m sure the Administration did their best)…
Of course, these issues should not have allowed us to be distracted from enjoying the actual Ball, which I felt was set up quite nicely. A big tent was erected inside the Chateau and that was where people gathered at the beginning. What I liked was being greeted on both sides by a row of waiters with many choices of beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
I also loved the DJ’s chillout music. This was taken when we just arrived, so the place still looked pretty empty.
Later on, there was a man in the middle of the tent who improvised on the trumpet on top of the chillout music, which I thought was a great idea. Later he also played bongo drums. You can see his instruments set up in the middle of the bar:
There was some food in the main tent, which was mostly OK except for one dessert which tasted like hamster cage lining to me - maybe it was. Security staff were visible at key entrances. Generally the ambience was great and I got to meet some new people, including partners of classmates as well as alums.
Inside the chateau there was a lounge, and upstairs the INSEAD band rocked us into a new high from midnight, with multiple encores. However it got very hot and one classmate opened a window to let some cold air in. Later however I noticed the window had been closed back. My feet were worn out (from wearing high heels, walking on cobblestones and then from dancing). I went home at 2+am via the shuttle, and got home at 3+am. This meant that I had missed some bits of drama that unfolded, apparently, when the music stopped earlier than expected. The Ball was advertised to end at 5pm, so understandably people were unhappy that it was cut short at 3+am.
A note was sent to the Dean, citing these complaints, and his reply seemed fine to me. He was still at the Ball when these things happened. As I wasn’t around to personally witness what happened I can only go by hearsay and the emails that have been circulated to all of us. I think however some communication could have been done earlier on so that we knew what to expect. When the music ends and the lights are turned on earlier than expected - these are all things we interpret as spoilers. Also we were told that Alumni were unhappy because they paid even more to come to Fonty, some with their partners.
Sadly, though I’m sure a lot of effort was put into planning for this Ball, most of the talk I heard was not “How great it was!” but “Did you hear, it ended too early… it was so hot but they refused to let us keep the windows open…” It’s human nature, I guess, but still it’s a shame it ended this way.
People have started to ask me how the Moonsoon Ball (the Singapore equivalent) was in comparison, as not everyone gets to go to both, depending on which periods you choose to be on either campus. I liked both Balls, largely because of the people who were there, but of course each Ball is unique. I’ve blogged about this ball previously but will compare it with the Summer Ball below.
The theme for the Monsoon Ball last year was ‘Red Dot’, which represented Singapore, though most of us didn’t come dottily dressed. I felt the food at the Monsoon Ball was much better and in more copious amounts, distributed in almost every room upstairs and downstairs. It was so tasty and there were so much leftovers I almost felt like doggy-bagging some of it! The location was also quite nice as it was in Sentosa. The only spoiler for this ball, I heard, was that some people were totally wasted by the end of it - obviously these organisers had not run out of champagne but were in fact topping up our glasses regularly. However I personally did not see anyone lying on the floors, and eyewitness accounts on this are mixed.
I am glad I got to attend both Balls, and in time I doubt we will remember the little bad things but just the good memories we had, catching up with old groupmates, sectionmates and other classmates. We will keep our many photos and share them, on Facebook and otherwise, and doubtlessly some of us will return as Alumni and hopefully enjoy ourselves again at other INSEAD Balls.