In pursuit of the experience

    As a first-time dancer, the overwhelming feeling I get when I think of Dance Marathon is dread.

    When I signed up for DM, I envisioned partaking in “one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the nation,” a supposedly essential part of the Northwestern career. I’d heard older students testify to having life-changing, incredible experiences because of DM and I knew I couldn’t miss out.

    When DM was just a date in the distance it seemed so easy to me. I’d have enough time to raise money – hell, I’d even heard of some folks raising $300 from canning. The 30 hours were during reading week so I figured there’d be no conflicts, although one sophomore did tell me “you just take a hit” when it comes to studying.

    Like anyone else though, I procrastinated, and the stress set in. I didn’t raise anywhere near $300 through canning. My first attempt outside of Ryan Field got me $9 before I gave up out of sheer awkwardness. Although my second attempt on the streets of Evanston with a friend scored $40, it wasn’t close to what I needed for the looming dollar count and ticking deadline.

    I feel like I should have given up there. But when I signed up for DM I signed away $45 of my own finances and as a nearly broke college student, the threat of putting money to waste was enough of a motivator to persist. I went for the letter-writing campaign approach and received generous support from friends and family, which coupled with investment from my dorm was enough to put me over that $400 mark.

    It’s been about two weeks since I logged into my DM account and instantly was flooded with relief when I noticed that I’d raised enough money. In the short time since, however, it’s begun to dawn on me what dancing for 30 hours might actually be like.

    What if my body gives out? What if the sleep deprivation turns me into my nastiest self? What if I can’t find a good friend to lean on? What if the loss of a weekend to work on a final project kills my grade? What if I’m cold? What if I hate my block outfits? What if I’m forced to dance to Justin Bieber?

    I genuinely love to dance (although I’ll never claim to be great at it) so I think that when I’m pumped and energized – in the first six hours or so – DM will be fantastic, like attending a concert with an open pit.

    It’s those next 24 hours that frighten me, those 24 hours that might have been better spent catching up on homework, taking a nap or sitting down for more than ten minutes every three hours.

    So I keep trying to remember why I did this to myself. I did it for Danny Did, I say. I did it for the experience.

    When I glance at that tent outside Norris though, I don’t see a fun time. I see a set of prison walls.


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