Diwali Ball evacuated following fire alarm

News University News

Six hundred guests were evacuated and a fire engine called as a fire alarm disrupted the Diwali Ball last Friday.

Students attending the HUMSoc Diwali Ball, which was held at Oxford Town Hall, were forced to temporarily vacate the event for approximately 20 minutes when the alarm sounded late in the evening. The cause of the false alarm is yet to be established.
The Ball Committee issued a statement detailing their efforts to “minimise the impact” of the alarm, which included allowing early access to the official Varsity Club after-party, and giving the 450 guests who attended the after-party drinks tokens to use at the club.
Despite the incident, the black tie ball – for which tickets cost £40 for HUMSoc members and £45 for non-members – managed to raise money for Pratham UK and Food for Life Vrindavan. Prior to the disruption, guests had been entertained by Punjabi MC, Out Of The Blue, roaming magicians and henna artists.
A maths student who attended the event complained: “It was freezing, it put a dampener on my evening. Within 15 minutes of being let back in, we were ushered back out and told to head to the Varsity Club. All in all a fun club night, but a sadly disappointing ball.”
However, not all guests shared this sentiment. Sam Gebreselassie, a third-year PPE student at St Peter’s College, remarked: “The Committee seemed pretty efficient and organised in dealing with the fire alarm: we were quickly herded out onto St. Aldate’s, much to the surprise of baffled pedestrians and motorists who suddenly faced a wall of saris and sherwanis.
“A fire engine arrived surprisingly quickly but we were soon ushered back in.”
Another ball attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, appeared equally nonplussed by the disturbance, stating: “It was a bit of a bummer to have to leave slightly early, but I wouldn’t say it ruined my experience of what was a really fun night.”
Although the Committee was “broadly happy with the event”, the President of the Diwali Ball Committee, Keble student Vaibhav Agarwall, commented: “There were a few things that we would prefer to have played out differently. However, I am extremely proud of my Committee and our work because at the end of the day we have generated a significant amount of money that will benefit some fantastic charities.”
HUMSoc, the Oxford University Hindu Society, was set up in 2001, and the Diwali Ball has been an annual event in Oxford for the last 12 years.


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