It is December, and it is the time of year where LSE is at its most creative – with Carol. It has been described as LSE’s warped version of Cambridge’s May Ball, with less class and weirder and wackier costumes. This year, Carol has been riddled with roadblocks and dissatisfaction, from the ticket selling, counterfeiting to and ‘sub-par’ DJing. Despite these, the enjoyment of the day didn’t dwindle.
What is Carol?
Carol is an LSE Athletics Union event that happens every year before Christmas break. Despite its name it has very little to do with Christmas and resembles more of a drunken costume parade of hedonism lasting from the early hours of the morning through to the next day. As it is always on a Friday, students have to rearrange classes or, in exceptional circumstances, attend them with their most sober faces on. It tends to be the most popular event of the year and demand for tickets is very high.
Just as last year, the AU required students to complete an online lesson about consent in order to get their wristbands.
The release for Carol tickets this year was a “problematic and stressful experience”, described one second year student. The general release for tickets was at 1pm on the 26th November. Due to the volume of people trying to buy tickets the site crashed, meaning no-one was able to buy tickets or even put them in their basket for the first 15 minutes they were on sale. After this, technical problems meant that the site was showing the tickets had sold out, or refreshing the site meant that multiple tickets were added to one person’s basket. After a gruelling 45 minutes, most people had obtained tickets, while the rest had to scramble and ask if anyone was selling.
Over 60 people posted to the event page saying they were looking for a ticket. One reason why there were many people missing out on Carol tickets was because of the reduced number of tickets sold compared to last year. This is due to the change in licensing laws for the SU Venue: they have had to comply with a reduced capacity for their club nights. This didn’t stop people trying to creatively trying to circumnavigate the system by creating counterfeit tickets. The AU posted that they had been made aware of ‘two efforts to order wristbands identical to those being used for entry to Carol’.
The day itself
Carol started with many AU clubs ‘pre-ing from 7.30am and having breakfast at Wetherspoons, readying themselves for the day ahead. Clubs came in costume to the SU Venue. Noteable costumes were Netball’s version of Violet Beauregarde and Basketball’s alien costumes. ‘It was a very bizarre experience,’ explains a member of pole fitness, ‘as it was daytime outside but it felt like the middle of the night in the club’. The first DJ of the day received compliments rather than backlash, with Football Sevens dressed as lobsters going up on stage to dance with the DJ. An odd moment occurred when the house lights switched on midway through the morning club session, leaving students a little confused on how to proceed as people’s sweaty, tired faces came into full view of each other.
After SU Venue, people were quickly ushered out as they traipsed their way to Zoo Bar. This venue was a lot more crowded than the first, potentially because people who hadn’t scored their golden Carol ticket could enter Zoo Bar separately.
After leaving Zoo Bar many people rested and regrouped for the final push – Nachos. Many third years said this was the “full Carol experience” going from 7am to 3am the next day.
While Carol can be a messy, hazy and out-of-this-world experience for many, its promises of release from the grim world of LSE is what attracts so many people to join in.
Not everyone, however, could escape the grips of LSE altogether. Many second years had their LSE100 summative presentation during Carol. Allowances had been made to reschedule this assessment to a Wednesday afternoon, but as it is AU Carol, and therefore everyone participating usually has a match or practice Wednesday afternoon, most people had to stop Carolling.