The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1935
Perhaps our Capping Ball was the brief moment of gaiety that precludes a Life of Endeavour, perhaps it signified the joyous culmination of a weary scramble of swot, perhaps it was just a good time—anyway it was fun. The galley-drivers of Rome, Torquemada, the Chinese executioners—these antique specialists in bigger and better tortures all might have learned a thing or two from the organisers of our Capping Ceremony. Perhaps their envious ghosts shivered with the rest of us that freezing night in our great echoing barn of a Town Hall, when the diploma-machinery creaked once again to spew forth another 150 bewildered new bachelors and masters and diplomats. And then came the fresh hour's nightmare on the photographer's rack. So we were dazed and sullen page 44 and a little petulant, that night before the Capping Ball began.
But when we reached the bright haven of St. Francis' Hall these clouds soon lifted. We gratefully shook off the mantle of befuddled academic earnestness. This was a festive time, and having due reason for celebration we rose to the occasions. The surroundings were just right. On entering the hall, you were greeted by an all-pervading gaiety that insinuated itself under your shirt-front and wriggled deliciously up and down your spine. It had caught the orchestra—or perhaps they were partly the cause of it—and everybody else there too—three hundred guests who were graduates and their favoured partners, and as many ordinary mortals as well —all shared it. The profoundest misanthrope would have admitted that these people were happy—that they were enjoying themselves in the way they liked best, with the people they liked best. The men were immaculate and gleaming, the girls glamorous and charming. The Ball became a most attractive spectacle, not through the mechanics of stiff social conformity, but because these were naturally attractive people, flushed with a happy and easy gaiety, and being themselves.
You could glissade to smooth and tuneful jazz over the slickest floor in Wellington. You looked up, and you saw gaily coloured lights, and you liked the solemnly blinking and revolving cellophane chandelier. You could sit on easy chairs on the balcony, and watch the endless weaving of the patterns of silks and stuffs that the dancers made below. You could pick out yourself, wearing a silly grin, on the flashlight that an enterprising photographer snapped at 11 and had developed by midnight. And you could talk, and perhaps say better and funnier things than you had said before.
Supper was tragically late and inadequate. But who cared? Nothing could impinge on the radiant aura of our gaiety that night. The tuneful jazz became slower and dreamier, and you began to feel young and sentimental, in a modern, hard-boiled way, of course. It was pleasingly the kind of Ball at which everybody danced with his own partner. And this you seemed to do more and more frequently as the Ball went on. And you liked it, and she liked it. And so the 1935 Capping Ball wore delightfully, happily, through beatific evening to marvellous morning.
(And perhaps it was perfectly epitomized when you turned to your partner and said: "Capping's been fun this year." And she said, "Because we were capped," and her eyes and mouth smiled her sweet smile.)