Black and Gold Ball – 22 April 2010

Elle & I, and a few tables of friends attended this year’s Black and Gold Ball held at the Grand Hyatt. It’s an important Dubai institution around ANZAC day for particularly all expats that hail from Australia and New Zealand. Our mob demonstrated the laziness of Australians and Kiwis when I think back to how we came together and bought tickets. All communications were over email, instituted and purchased between a Brit and a Papua New Guinean.

The ball’s title should be obvious to those from the Tasman. No, they don’t supply weird mixed drinks of Guinness and mid-strength XXXX. For anyone stuck, Black relates to the All Blacks the world champion rugby team, and the Gold is one half of Green and Gold – the proud colours of Australia, world champions in most other sports ;-).

Despite the effects of the financial crisis, and people allegedly leaving the region in droves, the ball continues to grow each year. This year saw 600 people in total, up from 450 the year before. All attendees were also quite generous. Around AED 30,000 was raised for charity during the night.

In one short sentence, the night was fantastic. After paying respect to those ‘who shall not grow old’, there was quite a long speech by organiser, Graham McNally. I heard on the grape vine that Graham completed almost the whole organisation of the evening himself – which if true is outstanding. He tried his hand at some humour, and made me chuckle at a few standard Oz and Kiwi jokes I’d heard before. And yes, having AUS and NZ the focal point of a ball, he felt it was necessary to mention “that” delivery. I believe the subject was changed pretty swiftly after to take the piss out of South Africans.

They played one party game our British friends forewarned us about called head and bums. Since playing the game at last year’s ball also, they have been of the belief it was a common Australian pastime. If you’re unaware of the game – which we were – it’s really simple. Everyone stands and chooses whether to put their hands on their head or on their bum. The announcer chooses one of the options, and if you chose correctly you remain standing to play another round. We were quite hopeless. In fact the only person from our entire table who did well was Bob our resident Scotsman. He made it just about to the round where those remaining in the game move to the dance floor to find the eventual winner. But unfortunately he followed the advice of someone from our table, and chose to put his hands on the option which had more hair. I’ll leave it at that. He was very smartly dressed in a tuxedo and kilt, we didn’t want to go any further.

The Aus/NZ inspired menu and specially imported food was tremendous – although two friends claimed to have inconvenient issues after some oysters. Eating high quality lamb from home was one of the highlights of the night.

The night was like all the balls I’ve been to. There was great company all looking very spectacular, great food and drinks, a real reluctance to get onto the dance floor but once there we danced the night away. Lionel Ritchie’s song All Night Long got us singing more than we ordinarily would when it sounded like the lyrics included a local suburb:

We’re going to Party, Karama, Fiesta, forever, Come on and sing along.

Toward the end of the night it was a mystery where the whole night had gone. When the ugly lights came on to encourage us to leave, we could not believe it was after 3am.

Actually this ball had a few significant differences from the balls I attended previously. Those in years gone by were safely held before the onset of social networking, 3 megapixal Blackberries with WiFi connection, and inconspicuously sized digital cameras with HighDef video recording. This ball, and every moment for ever more is open to the gazes of the web’s population. It was interesting to know that photos of our escapades were getting uploaded to Facebook in near real time.

When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t recap on the night by reading Facebook status updates. I watched an edited video megamix of myself making some terrible dance moves. What ever happened to ‘what happens on tour…”

Unfortunately one thing that wasn’t caught on film was one of the highlights toward the end of the night. We heard The Proclaimer’s, 500 Miles and insisted on getting our other Scottish friend up to dance with us – knowing full well how much she hates the song. Good times.