Having been part of the team working on County Extrav last year I’ve got something of an insider’s knowledge about the end of year bashes. I was there trying to handle the queues at 9am when the majority had been there since before 7am (bearing in mind tickets didn’t go on sale until 11am). If you weren’t there, the stories are pretty accurate: it was a circus. It was crazier than any of us ever thought, especially innocent Freshers such as myself who hadn’t found out what an Extrav was until several weeks earlier. But when it eventually happened, that’s when I understood what all the fuss was about. Despite the stress of helping organise one I still count myself as a true Extrav fan. They really are the perfect way to round off a year.
The build up is always something extraordinary: constant speculation about themes and bands, JCRs sworn to utter secrecy but encouraged to circulate false rumours to encourage the hype. And when the themes are finally released, Facebook is put under siege as people watch the videos, debate over bands, costume ideas, and try to decide which one is worthy of their attendance. It’s like Glastonbury miniaturised. And Northernised.
But even though they are adored campus-wide as events, the organisation of them has been widely criticised for years. Every year the new JCRs try to improve the system and are still trying to make improvements. This year’s system is when it gets technical: Extrav ticket selling has officially entered the 21st century with the majority of transactions happening online. The hope is this will avoid ridiculously long queues of people who even though they have been there for over four hours, still go home disappointed.
Another change to the system is that of college priority, a move that has been met with mixed reactions. On the one hand, the chances of you getting into your own college Extrav are significantly higher. However, should you be In Fylde but have a number of friends in Pendle, the chances are against you for being able to join the party.
So what other changes can we notice? Prices have gone up: simply down to inflation and the economic downturn? And the number of tickets one person can buy has gone down: attempting to avoid incredibly keen queuers buying fifty tickets before the rest of us are even out of bed.
All of the changes have been made to try and improve the organisation and “smooth running” of ticket sales, but doubts are still circling around the student body. The main concern is that the sites will not be able to handle demand for tickets and will crash, causing wide spread chaos throughout the system. Another doubt I have heard is the fear that Extravs are slowly but surely turning into College-only events, segregating the University up into very separate colleges, Oxbridge style. One of the delights of Extrav time is the constant competition between colleges, trying to make theirs the one that everyone wants to go to. If the events become solely college based, this will be lost.
But do you know what I think: What’s all the fuss about? Yes I was part of the old system last year and yes it had definite flaws, but everything turned out alright in the end. Hopefully everything will run much smoother this year (minimal stress on the JCR is definitely a plus when, apart from ticket sales, there’s a hundred other things to organise before the big day) but if something does go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. I’m sure JCRs are prepared for all eventualities (I know we were) and will handle everything to the best of their ability. Despite months of stress and hundreds of concerns, Extravs always happen and they are always successful. Their high demand continues relatively unaffected and JCRs always emerge at the other end, exhausted but happy.
So if you’re one of these cynical people who expects nothing but doom and gloom all the way up to the day itself, pause and think: Extravs have always been awesome, and my expectation is that they will continue to be so.