Photo essay: PR Committee keeps dancers in, wanderers out
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    Anyone looking to visit the gargantuan Dance Marathon tent outside Norris, legally or illegally, is going to have to get past Weinberg senior Sourav Bhowmick and his 17-member security task force.

    The team, a branch of DM’s Public Relations Committee, is prowling Norris during all 30 hours of the event to make sure dancers don’t wander and intruders don’t enter.

    This year the team has introduced a new security measure to separate visitors from participants: a long walkway designed to bring spectators and charity group members into view of the event. DM leadership built the walkway to better control who is given access to Dance Marathon and how far into the scene they can venture. Also, it’s a way to bar drunken partygoers who aren’t willing to pay the $5 visitor fee.

    “It’s definitely a lot easier having just visitors here,” said McCormick junior Jordan Prindle, a member of the DM security team standing guard inside the tent. “They seem to like it too – it’s like they’re given their own marquee.”

    Wearing neon yellow shirts that say “On the PRowl,” team members stand guard at all entrances and corners of the tent. They keep track of anyone who enters the tent, examining their wrists and necks for confirmation that they’re where they’re supposed to be.

    “Our job is to make sure everyone is in the right place.” Bhowmick said. “We want to make sure traffic flows smoothly and that intruders are being kept out.”

    Dealing with intruders has proven a difficult part of the security team’s responsibilities. According to Bhowmick, members of the team Friday night had to escort nearly two dozen wanderers out of the tent.

    “People try to play a lot of tricks to get in—people have tried to burrow under the tent or pay to get in as visitors and climb over the fence.” said Bhowmick, who has been on the security team for three consecutive years. “But we’re pretty vigilant, and they don’t get past us.”

    The security squad isn’t the only group that has to be vigilant to the last hour. It’s the job of the Dancer Relations committee to extend the strict security measures to the dancers themselves. Their job is to keep close watch for the sitters, the sleepers, and the schemers looking to escape from the tent. They also serve as chaperones for any dancers in need of bathroom breaks, waiting outside so that no one attempts a power nap in the stall.

    “People have tried to run away or crawl under the stage to sleep.” said dancer Erica Israel, a Communication sophomore. “People from the DR team have to check it out.”

    Full disclosure: Sourav Bhowmick is a former managing editor of North by Northwestern. Maura Brannigan, the other PR co-chair, is also a former contributor. The authors of this story had not worked with Bhowmick or Brannigan prior to publication.

    Sourav Bhowmick, head of the Public Relations Committee's security team, coordinates his 17-member task force in Norris.
    Weinberg sophomore Kari Fleischauer guards the front door to the tent. Dancers coming back from the bathroom show her their wristbands to get back in.
    Anyone who wants to step onto the tent's visitors platform, a new feature at DM this year, pays a $5 charge outside the door. Weinberg sophomore Richard Goldring and Medill senior Nicole Hong collect the money, which will go to the B+ foundation.
    Visitors in Norris stand in line for access to the tent. Security team member Jake Spence, a Weinberg junior, stands guard at the door.
    Visitors are escorted through a tunnel in groups of 40 and brought into the tent to watch dancers in action. "We're the gatekeepers here," Bhowmick said. "It's our job to regulate traffic flow and make sure there aren't too many visitors at one time.
    At the other end of the tunnel, it's up to McCormick junior Jordan Prindle [left] to see visitors onto the platform.
    Bhowmick stands guard on the visitors' platform. Several times Friday and Saturday, Bhowmick said, visitors tried to climb over the guard rail and mingle with dancers.
    Bhowmick scans the crowd for intruders from the visitors' platform. "We always get a large amount of ambitious intoxicated individuals who try to break in during lockdown [between 1 and 8 a.m.]," Bhowmick said. "We find them and get them out of here...some take more persuasion than others, but we get them out."
    Medill freshman Summer Delaney stands at her post at the southeast corner of the tent. "My sophomore year, a bunch of people tried to burrow under the tent to get in," Bhowmick said. "That's not happening this year. Not as long as we're here."


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