Students supporting the safe sex cause, from left, Tessa Edwards, Emma Swanepod, Ola Slawinska, Mariana Moro, Nur Dulin, Yaz Husein, Carolina Cordero, Kathy Hofmeyr and Emma Byett LAURENCE UNDERHILL EE011208_LU06_05
ORGANISERS have defended a raunchy student charity event to promote safe sex in which revellers dressed in skimpy outfits and were encouraged to enjoy a "red light district" while being given free condoms.
Around 2,500 people attended the Safer Sex Ball, organised by Exeter University's Raising and Giving Society.
The £35 a ticket night is one of the UK's biggest Aids awareness events and £34,000 is raised annually for Positive Action South West.
But some students are worried that the event, where revealing dress is expected, gives out the wrong message and encourages revellers to be promiscuous.
The theme of the ball was "Sex Around the World" and as well as the red light district, there were rooms depicting the Rio carnival, Wild West, a Japanese geisha's home and a chill-out area. The Scratch Perverts and student bands performed and former Libertines member Carl Barat did a DJ set.
One student, who attended the event, said: "I think the message of safe sex is communicated but everyone is so drunk no one really takes any notice."
Organiser Brad Fisher, 22, a third-year history and archeology student, admitted many students had what he called "a good time" together, but said the ball was the perfect location to spread a serious message.
"We tried to get across the importance of having safe sex. It's better like this than in a really staid way," he said.
"Obviously students know the facts but they may not know all they need to about sexually transmitted infections and that's what we wanted to get across.
"There were people walking around giving out free condoms; we did as much as we could to promote safe sex while raising money for charity, and it was a good balance."
First year student Jo Painter said: "I had a really, really good time. It was wicked.
"Three of us went as air hostesses. It was such a good laugh, really worth spending the money on the ticket."
"I've never seen so many random people still in their costumes leaving my halls this morning.
"There seems to be this massive thing about the SSB being the night everyone has sex.
"And they do kind of encourage it by having beds in the Kama Sutra room and stuff.
The committee organising the event said they did everything they could to promote safe sex.
"We had information about chlamydia on the night as well as the Stop Aids Society there," said Alice Bearn, one of the four organisers.
"In previous years the message has been lost so it was important for us this year that it was communicated well. The atmosphere on the night is never really sexual. It's just people having fun.
"Whether you believe it is irresponsible of us or not, you cannot argue with how much money it raises for charity. I'm really glad I did it. It's been very rewarding."