Mess Summer Ball - What have you done and where?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Baz44, Jan 15, 2007.

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  1. OK having joined the mess from the masses last year I volunteered to seek venues and arrange the above for 2007. In days gone by I would have gone for a nice hall with a dinner and dance (plus accomodation on tap) but very quickly learned that may not be quiet the 'Form' in my new occupation.

    I have a few ideas of more prestigious locations that spring to mind. But then I though I would ask you guys what has worked for you from your experiences. Difficult part seems to be giving/ ensuring the ladies have a good and enjoyable tme rather than sticking with the tried and trusted format. Ideal locations in the east or South East of particular interest.

    All advice welcomed

  2. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator


    Consider an application to your unit band for a string quartet for pre dinner drinks and music during dinner. It is often cheap (sometimes just the cost of transport) and is a suitably "mess" thing to do. Depending on the band, they can sometimes do the full dance band bit for after, and again, good value for cracking musicians.

    As to all the other bits and pieces, pick one or two quality bits of entertainment and do it well, rather than loads of stuff which just gets lost in the rush.

    One PMC skinted our mess for several years after booking bucking bronco, laser quest, laser clay shooting etc, etc, etc. very few people bothered with anything other than the bronco (mainly for the chance to see which of the women were in CEFO or had gone Commando).

    Always think about what will make your ball different from any number of other dinner dances or black tie balls that they may go to.

  3. Just a thought...but have you thought about a getting a caricature artist to wander around in the pre or post dinner slots?! Good for summer functions as it stays light in the evening..

    Have been waiting for an opportunity to recommend this to someone actually!

    I had two of them at my wedding and it went down a not expensive for a 3 hour slot..and then people also get a cool souvenir of the day too..

    I know not everyone likes them mind...
  4. When PMC I got a young lady who played the Harp before and during dinner. She was fantastic and everybody loved it. For an unusual one, in Germany we hired a boat on the Sorpesee and that was good as well. The Duke is quite correct - have one or two things of interest only.

    Afterthought - we also had a Sketch Artist who did Cameos - once again loved by the Distaff side.

    Best of luck

  5. Great minds think alike!
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    Simple, the person who throws the dwarf furthest wins.

    At the time of writing, no official rules have been created for this wonderful sport.

    Specialised Equipment Needed in order to Successfully Throw a Dwarf
    One mattress (soft and clean)
    One Dwarf (willing)
    Harness with a handle (as a throwing aid)
    Safety equipment

    The longest midget toss is said to have been made by an English truck driver named Jimmy Leonard. He tossed Lenny the Giant (4'4'' , 98lbs ) 11 feet, 5 inches
  7. It does depend on what sort of mess you are in really i.e. Combined, unit, Garrison and so on. Equally, consider the audience you are working for.

    Having assisted in organising the mess Chrismas Party just gone, this is how we organised it.

    We decided on what sort of effect we wanted (i know it sounds doctrinal but it did actually work!). We decided that we wanted a lavish affair, but that was not too stuffy.

    We opted for a black tie function rather than mess dress, thus allowing the focus to be on the ladies and not a load of Red Jacketed lunatics with medals and what not. This allowed the ladies to dress up as they pleased and to take away the military element of the party. We had just come back from being on tour and thus really didn't fancy doing the whole uniform thing.

    With regards to scoff, we decided that we would rather have a buffet style dinner. I am not talking of Hot plate and dish your food from the slop jockies. We wanted, and what we got, was a couple of chef's manning essentially a carvery. 2 suckling pigs, Turkey, goose, chicken, lamb, beef and lots of Game meat. We set aside a large chunk of the budget for the food and gave the chefs minimal constraints. Dare I say it, Army Chefs are absolutely outstanding given the right facilities and a decent budget. They can turn out some dinners which are absolutely superb. The full dinner was superb and I suggest you talk to your RCWO on how he/she can best support you.

    The reason we went for the buffet style was to keep it relaxed with the only formal timings being the start and end of the meal phase.

    On the entertainment side, we (as suggested above) booked the divisional band - an excellent asset who provided a brass section. They were capable of providing wind, strings, rock band and a disco if we wanted. They were there for the opening of the evening to give background music for the Champagne reception and then through the dinner.

    We also had a photographer that spent most of the evening taking shots of the party goers - but not staged, just as they were. Once the dinner was done, we opened up a small casino area of Roulette and Black Jack and also set up Scaletrix (guess what was more popular).

    We also had disco which went onto 0400hrs.

    Ultimately, it was a relaxed affair with great food, plenty to drink and the odd entertainment here and there to keep people interested. We based it in the mess. We could only cater for 80 pax but it worked well, and we also ran transport from the mess back to the Pad estate. This was to avoid any chance of drink driving.

    If there is anything else you want to know, just PM mate. Happy to help
  8. If you want someone to handle it all for you, send me a PM and I'll recommend a couple of good agents in the SE who are adept at handling military balls. All you'll probably have to do then is find the venue, although they may be able to help with that too.

    Do your sums in the meantime and find out how much you need to levy for the tickets. Remember to include:

    Table Hoppers (1 for every 100 people)


    Band (or two bands if you have a big enough mess). Look to go into four figures for the type of band that will suit the mess.



    You can also beg, steal and borrow raffle prizes from the garrison shops who make their living from selling to the mess. Sell raffles leading up to the gig and more on the night and that will allow you to either reduce the levy or have a bigger blow-out.

    Don't listen to people who tell you to do it on your own from Yellow Pages. You need backup if something goes wrong and an agent will give you that - provided you pick the right one.
  9. Close magic and sleight of hand is ALWAYS popular. also these days, atch the music to the average age of the mass, e.g. 31..then 1986 is a good "middle for diddle". Never forget the charity casino...
  10. Yes the casino is a good option if you have the money but if you're outsourcing the venue you have to remember that you'll have to wrap things up by 1am probably.

    The south is full of interesting items to use as pre-dinner and dinner entertainment but the chap needs to be sure of his budget before committing to anything.

    I've had 15 years of doing this - so for once, I actually KNOW what I'm talking about LOL.
  11. Best thing we did was a champagne breakfast at the end of the ball, with a survivours photograph as the sun came up, in the end there were about 30 of us and it finished the night off.
  12. That's still a common facet of a ball but, as before, you can't really do that when you've hired premises. It needs to be in your own mess or barracks - if there is a suitable room.
  13. The biggest factor is the type of mess and the target audience you have. For example a Regimental mess with loads of subbies is going to be a diffewrent affair to the Garrison Mess with loads of SO2+, RO's and Country Members.

    Our last Summer Ball (Garrison Mess) was extremely successful, despite losing one of our marquees on the day due to storm damage! We had Dodgems which were absolutely fantastic and I would strongly recommend to anyone - even the old crusties loved them!
  14. I've created a page on the arrsepedia, added a few links i've used for different things before to it. Hopefully the combined experience here may have a lot more to add. I'll put more in as I sift through my diaries and books.

    If someone could make it slightly more accessible too...
  15. Sorry, but I think raffles are a bit RAF - not really Officers' Mess. (IMHO)

    Do it on your own from Yellow Pages. Backup in case of emergency comes in the form of a Subbie with a mobile phone and another copy of Yellow Pages. Paying an agent merely increases the cost of the tickets for no visible benefit. The Army way is Risk Management, not Risk Avoidance! We are an organisation that thrives on initiative in adversity - all an agent will do in an emergency is phone people off their list - why pay for that?

    Find a reputable Marquee company (if doing it on your own site), they should have a portfolio of styles as well as references. Ring other messes in your area and enquire where they got theirs from. The marquee company will undoubtedly be able to give you details of people who provide entertainment.

    Oh, and remember, you can't go wrong with scantily clad women! I saw this at a mess last year (not same company) and everyone loved it, even the girls (it's an angle grinder):