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BNS 1: What is it?

BNS: B&S or Bachelors and Spinsters ball, or Blokes and Sheilas ball. Take your pick.

It’s basically the quintessential Aussie, rough and ready shindig. They’re run by a small town, community volunteer organisation like Apex, and are an annual, semi outdoor, 18 years and older, pop up disco/nightclub, community fundraiser.

From various Victorian BNS's. All photos © Sister Sanguinista all rights reserved

The dancing is in a shed or marquee at the local Showgrounds or footy oval, or on a farmer’s paddock. People drive there, from all over the state—and even other states—and set up their camp in the carpark which becomes a mini village. It also becomes a pre-party that is as much a part of the B&S as the ball itself. People drink, get loud, hang out with mates and run amok. Then when the sun sets, they don their formal attire and head into the ball where they drink, dance, socialise and possibly hunt for a root. They get covered in the flying food dye and alcohol, and the dirt kicked up by hundreds of boots.

Photos © Sister Sanguinista all rights reserved

The ticket includes the booze and roast beef sandwiches in the ball, the bands, security, insurance, first aid, equipment hire and any other operating costs. The rest goes back into the local community to build new amenities and fund schools and sporting groups. Most of the labour—the bar and clean up afterwards—is done by the community volunteers.

Calling it a ball is a bit of a misnomer, because no one is expecting to put on airs and graces, and wear their finest, or to know the steps to a formal waltz. It is like any night club or meat market, but it is a messier one with the food dye. And also a friendlier one because there is no point being rude and nasty when there is a high chance half the people know somebody who knows somebody through the BNS community. And besides, acting like a prick will harm your chances of scoring a root, and ball goers aren’t shy in telling you if you are acting up.

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