Thursday, June 07, 2007

University of Hertfordshire Summer Ball 2007

It is true to say that i love doing anything technical, so when the chance came to work on the crew for the Uni Summer ball, I jumped at it.

Before we go on we must define the term "Summer Ball". When you see this term you might think fancy doo where everyone dresses up in suits and ball gowns, and then maybe a band play and people have a bit of a dance. I soon learned that this is not what ther Summer Ball actually is. Basically its like a mini festival that runs over night. There's 3 stages, Main Stage - Where bands and DJ's play throughout the night, Urban Stage - Where they play mainly Hip Hop and have guest DJ's and MC's throughout the night, and the Dance Stage where they have DJ's nall night. There is also a fun fair, lots of food stalls, Champagne reception, street performers and lots of other random stuff happening. Most people still dress up in suits and gowns.

So we started Wednesday afternoon by building the stage in the rain(luckily we were under a marquee). I didn't think much of the ali-deck stage, I'd never used it before and I didn't really trust it, but it seemed ok in the end. Give me lite-deck any day!(For those of you not in the know, ali-deck and light-deck are different makes of staging)

Thursday all the gear arrived at 8.30am in an arctic lorry! This was the fun part unloading it all, and setting it up. Sometimes I enjoy this bit more than actually doing the gig! We had lots of fun toys to play with including 4 mixing desks, about 5 racks of outboard, and a shed loads of Par cans and moving lights. It was a long day, and I ended up heading back to Luton at about 11pm, as I needed to get back to Luton to pack for my holiday!

Friday came, the day of the ball, and we were just tweaking things, focussing lights and getting ready for the bands to arrive. Unfortunately Sandi Thom dropped out on the morning which was a shame as I was looking forward to hearing her and her band. Apparantly she had a sore throat but I think it was more to do with the fact that she'd done a gig in Europe the night before and she was doing another gig in Europe the next day.

The gates opened at 8pm and the event finished at 4am. I was based most of the time at the main stage, kinda hanging around, baby sitting the gear while the main engineers weren't around, doing the stage change overs and just looking generally techy like. Here's a cool pic of me at one of the big Midas XL-4 desks(probably one of the best if not the best analogue mixing consoles in the world)

I have to say that it was a step down for me as I'm used to being a bit more involved in engineering, running things a bit more but it was a good opportunity to work with a new bunch of people and some really nice equipment. My good friend Chris the lighting guy was even kind enough to let me play on the moving lights for some of the evening.

For the last 2 hours I went and did my shift on the dance stage which basically involves standing stage side with your earplugs on making sure the DJ's don't push the amps too hard.

Then when 4am came it was time to pack it all away. Luckily we had some hired crew come in to help us at about 5am as by that stage we were all really tired. We managed to get everything packed up and pretty much ready to go by 7am when the arctic lorry arrived to take all the gear back to the warehouse.

It was a long couple of days, but I really enjoyed it. I got paid for it, but the real reason I did it was for the experience, and I'm hoping it might lead to a Casual job with the Uni Ents Crew next year. Also met some new people and hopefully made a few good contacts for the future.

So I arrived back in Luton at about 9.30am on Saturday morning, to catch a flight to Geneva at about 1pm, but I'll post more about that soon!


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