On the night of Friday March 2, just when college students around the country are cracking open a beer or heading to a party to start their weekend, around 1,300 Northwestern University students will begin dancing for 30 striaght hours with the goal of raising nearly $1 million for one national and one local charity.
The 38th annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon, which will be held from 7 p.m. on March 2 until 1 a.m. on March 4 in a heated tent on the east lawn of the Norris student center, will raise money for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation helping kids to fight cancer and the Evanston Community Foundation.
As for the rules to the marathon?
“The only rule is just that everyone has to dance all the time,” Brannigan said. “You don’t get to sit out for part of it, except for during meals. There is a surprising amount of adrenaline and energy throughout the entire event.”
What started in 1975 as a small charitable drive, headed jointly by a Northwestern fraternity and sorority, has since blossomed into a several month-long fundraising effort that caps off every year with a dance marathon.
“It’s really a yearlong fundraising effort that the entire community, not just the people who are dancing in it, really engages in,” said Maura Brannigan, public relation co-chair of the dance marathon executive board. “There’s a general trend of supporting children’s charities that we think really resonate with the Northwestern community.”
Some of the more notable efforts the organization has supported in past months include a “Top Chef” style cooking tournament for student groups, a combination blowup-suit sumo wrestling competition and Northwestern wrestling team match, weekly trivia contests and a Northwestern Men’s basketball’s Feb. 9 “Dance Marathon Night” when head coach Bill Carmody donated $1,000 out of his own pocket to the cause.
The actual marathon will comprise 10 three-hour segments, each with a different theme, ranging from a zombie-filled apocalypse period to a “you know you were born in the 90s” portion.
Though students have the option to sign up to dance alone, most choose to sign up with a team. Teams, which are usually organized by a dorm, fraternity, sorority or student group, compete to see which group can raise the most money. Each team is required to raise at least $400 per dancer, but most groups choose to raise more.
Additionally, the individual who raises the most money for the charity will win a yet-to-be-named grand prize, donated by a corporate sponsor. In past years, the grand prize has been a free vacation.
For more information on the charity or how to donate, visit the Northwestern University Dance Marathon website.