Nationwide, students are aware of the elusive and mysterious annual event at the Glasgow University Union. The mere utterance of words ‘Daft Friday’ can send a shiver down the spine of Glasgow University’s population. While it is known for its exclusive and hard to come by tickets and the air of secrecy surrounding its yearly theme, only few know the truth and history behind GUU’s most revered traditions.
Beginning in 1908 – 108 years ago- the Honorary Secretary at the time James Bridie, after which the pre-ball dinner is named, was in his office bored on the last day of term when he decided to create a ‘smoking concert’ that night to celebrate the current president. It was an all-male affair until the 50’s, when women could attend only when invited- therefore becoming more of a dance.
The ‘theme’, celebrating the President, came in the 50s and was not always shrouded in secrecy.. The ball is never discussed with or in front of the President, ensuring that, when they arrive on the night, the event and what it holds is a total surprise. Normally, they will be incorporated in the ‘President’s Board’, a painting blending their features with a character/image from the theme. For example, last year’s president Rory Slater became Jack Sparrow for one night only.
The Daft Friday Committee, comprised of painters and builders, work for most of Semester One creating the scenes and props to prepare the union for its makeover. In the final week of term, the aptly titled ‘Final Week’ begins, where the entire union, except from the Beer Bar, is closed and everything is quickly erected with the committee working tirelessly to bring everything together.
Themes have ranged from James Bond, to the Illiad, to Marvel with the most recent being Pirates of the Carribbean. Creating these images take hundreds of hours of projecting, greywashing and paintmixing using acrylic paint to recreate printed images of the characters.
The black tie event prides itself on having a range of entertainment on the night, including every single room of the union. This has in the past included a casino, swing band, laser quest and even a palm reader. Acts that have performed at DF in the past include Bombay Bicycle Club, Frightened Rabbit, Basshunter, Chvrches and Sub Focus.
This year’s event will be held on Friday 16th December (the last day of term). Unfortunately we can’t share any theme secrets…you’ll just have to turn up to see!
– Johanna Crighton