Like hundreds of others, I left the ball Saturday night around 2 a.m. — long after the LTC had ceased to be relevant — and stood in the sub-zero temperature with a herd of alcohol-addled students jostling and begging for a taxi. Living nowhere near the London Convention Centre, and accompanied by my high heel-clad girlfriend, a form of transportation was extremely important. In addition, we had to look on as Charity Ballers dangerously darted into traffic, desperate to flag down a vehicle that would take them home.
People shoved and shouted about who was entitled to the sparse cabs that passed, and there was more than one ill-dressed individual who broke down in tears after an extended time standing in the cold. Eventually, with no taxi in sight, we had to plead with a sleepy roommate to come fetch us. Truly, this spectacle lacked the classic formality Charity Ball strives so hard to attain.
While it’s tempting to place the blame on London’s terrible public transit and under-equipped taxi companies, the more significant responsibility should fall on the hands of Charity Ball’s organizers who clearly failed to properly assess the transportation needs of attendees.
It was not merely the lack of vehicles that was the problem, it was also the fact that the Convention Centre locked the doors shortly after 2 a.m. So, instead of being able to wait in the warm entrance way, under-clad students, many in scanty dresses, had to stand uncomfortably in the cold. Had this been one of the seriously cold days only recently passed, it wouldn’t have been a matter of discomfort; it would have been a matter of illness and injury.
Next year, above all else, this problem needs to be mitigated. Hiring a shuttle service, or even arranging for a cab company to have frequent drive-bys would help. Alternatively, arranging for a warm place to wait while the cabs come would help prevent the distress that so many Charity Ballers, myself included, felt on Saturday night.