What is DTYD?
Dance ‘Til You Drop is an annual party hosted by my living group, the Burton Third Bombers, on the weekend of the Boston Marathon The party is open to the entire MIT campus and features a hack and a live band. This year, we held the 53rd DTYD, which was the first one since 2019 due to the pandemic. DTYD is traditionally held in Burton Conner’s Porter Room, but since the dorm is closed for renovations, it took place in Walker Memorial.
(taken from my 2020 post about Burton Third)
DTYD started in 1969 when two Bombers (Classes of ’70 and ’71) wanted to celebrate their 21st birthdays and decided to indulge in a party that lasted four whole days. Burton Third had always held a floor party on Patriot’s Day, so the next year, the two parties were combined into an event that lasted from Saturday night until Thursday. This took place in Hamilton House, the place where the Bombers were exiled to when Burton House was closed down during the 1970-71 academic year. When Burton House reopened, the party, which was now known as DTYD, returned to MIT in full force. DTYD III featured a $1,000 budget, fireworks on Briggs Field, and even more debauchery than that of its forebearers.
Throughout the years, DTYD expanded to include more semi-official traditions such as canoe trips, Red Sox game outings etc. Most of these, unfortunately, have died out, but the fact remains that DTYD and all its auxiliary events provide a “great oasis in the middle of the academic year.”
Burton Third exec members are usually juniors who have two years of experience under their belt. This year, however, we had four floor chairs who had experienced a mere seven months on campus pre-pandemic. We had only a vague notion of what DTYD planning entailed but were tasked with throwing the party despite our lack of knowledge. As you might expect, it was pretty damn difficult and took several months.
Even though the canoe trips and Red Sox game outings are no longer traditions, DTYD weekend continues to be exceptionally involved; it features several events involving alumni, which gives them plenty of reason to come back to Boston to celebrate. A normal Patriot’s Day Weekend schedule looks something like this:
Friday: Alumni Pub Crawl, where alumni and 21+ bombers venture to bars around Cambridge
Saturday: Bomber Formal, where we all dress up fancy, eat nice food, and take way too many pictures
Sunday: DTYD, where we rage
Monday: Alumni Barbecue and marathon monday where we celebrate the Boston marathon and the conclusion of DTYD
DTYD L, which featured a whopping $16K budget, was held during my Campus Preview Weekend, back in April 2019. I had no conception of what the Bombers were at this time, but since I was staying on campus an extra day, I heard tons of students talking about the ongoing party. I had no interest in parties at the time and wasn’t about to be let in anyways, so I didn’t think about it much. How things have changed…
Given that it was the 50th anniversary, there were even more auxiliary events than usual.
There was an alumni brunch and an alumni hockey game to celebrate Burton Third’s undying hockey culture. We’re really bad at hockey and pretty much always have been, FYI.
For DTYD L, literally hundreds of alumni flocked back to MIT to celebrate the occasion. Some were participants in the first few DTYDs!
When I wrote the blog about the Bombers in 2020, I fully anticipated to have a DTYD, but since the event takes place in April and the pandemic hit in March, I was unable to experience it. Two years later, I’m a floor chair and was thus responsible for running this party despite having never attended one. Thankfully, DTYD 53rd was nowhere near the same scale as DTYD 50, but it was still pretty stressful to plan for someone whose only conception of it comes from stories they’ve heard from upperclassmen.
The Road to DTYD 53rd
We scheduled Walker Memorial for DTYD back in May 2021. We were immediately met by the issue of Walker closing at 10 pm on the Sunday of Patriot’s Day weekend. Also, it was Easter that day!! A 7-10 pm event would be horrible, and hosting a party on Easter wasn’t an option either, so we looked at the Saturday of that weekend, but it was fully booked. Due to this, we decided to move the party to the 23rd, even though it goes against tradition. But hey, at least the date has a 3rd in it…
In early January, we started thinking about DTYD more concretely. We met with Hannah ’19, a former floor chair, to discuss the party and all its auxiliary events. For formal, we asked about what type of venue we’d need since our traditional venue, The Asgard, closed during the pandemic. We also asked about budgeting and how much we’d need for the drinks and food tabs. Since booking venues is expensive, we decided on our timeframe, as well as where we would go for the formal afterparty.
As for DTYD itself, we knew very little about how serving alcohol works at parties; we were told that there are a lot of rules we need to keep in mind (obviously, since it concerns alcohol), and that we’d need a licensed bartender. We also would need to ID people at the entrance of the party in addition to checking their CovidPass, and would have to sell drink tickets at the door. In addition, we’re required to serve food alongside the alcohol, so we decided on catering tons of burritos.
Hannah let us know that we’d need to send physical invitations to alumni ASAP so they’d be able to make it. After sending out our massive spreadsheet of alumni addresses for updates, we had an addressing party. With a few dozen people and lots of pizza, addressing and putting together ~550 envelopes didn’t take much time at all.
Here’s our postcard design:
Ah, yes. Now that we’d invited hundreds of people to our party, we needed to acquire funding.
We typically have a few funding sources for the party: the large event fund , Burton Conner, and DormCon. This year, due to evolving restrictions, LEF was unable to fund us since DTYD is an event with alcohol. Over the course of a few weeks, we submitted a hefty budget to both BC and DormCon for our funding needs and received a couple thousand dollars.
In the past few years, the Boston-based band Juice used to play at DTYD, but now they’re a bit too popular for us to book them. This meant that we had to find another band.
Thankfully, I’d met some Berklee girls on the the park alongside the Charles on the Boston side last Spring, and we’d become pretty close friends. I asked one of them if she knew of any bands, and she immediately told me about her band. The other floor chairs and I went to hear the band play at a venue in Somerville and decided that they would be a vibe, so we booked them for DTYD. Finding a band turned out to be way easier than anticipated.
Some of the younger Bombers who hadn’t been to a DTYD were skeptical about having a live band at a party, but the upperclassmen convinced us that it’s a dope tradition. It’s mostly for us to hang out, eat and drink, and talk to alumni. The party really gets going once the actual DJ comes on, anyways.
DTYD is traditionally accompanied by a hack that is planned by the freshman class. The hack is used to promote the party, so it’s usually something large, eye-catching, and in a well-traversed part of campus.
Previous hacks include a 3rd.3rd meter tall orange 3rd filled with 1000 pounds of loose sand, a bomber shirt saying DTYD 4/17 on The Alchemist, a banner hanging above Lobby 7 saying “Don’t Tell Your Dad,” and a giant paper mache plane hanging in Lobby 7. In 2009, the hack went awry; the Bombers installed a giant concrete bomb on the Kresge lawn, which led to a student calling the bomb squad. The party ran as intended, but the consequences were pretty dire…
This year, both the sophomores and freshmen planned the hack since neither class got a chance to in the past. My class never got to do a hack either, but the juniors are floor chairs and running the party itself, so thinking about a hack would be too much for us.
A couple of ideas were pitched for the hack, including a fortune teller box with a picture of someone saying “I see DTYD in your future…,” and a giant orange banner wrapping around The Alchemist. The underclassmen settled on four giant pong cups filled with sand placed around campus. One went in the Banana Lounge, one was placed on the steps leading to Lobby 7, one went in Stata, and one went outside the student center It was pretty fucking hilarious.
The underclassmen put the cups up at 5 am, and administration asked to take them down within a couple of hours into the school day. When we tried to take them down, however, the police stopped us. Ah, well! They were onto something; it’s not ideal for a bunch of students to try to heft a wooden structure filled with hundreds of pounds of sand into a giant cart in the middle of the day.
Optional section dedicated to the murals portraying DTYD that were on Burton Third. We won’t have murals in the newly-renovated Burton Conner, so these will be dearly missed.
We built this 16-foot long sound reactive lightboard for DTYD 50. It was a crucial addition to the party and became a staple of future floor events, but was lost when we had to last-minute move out of Burton Conner in March 2020.
A couple of Bombers decided that it would be worthwhile to rebuild. I mean, obviously, look at it. We started planning in early March and hoped to complete it before the party on April 23rd. First, we applied to grant funding and discussed where we would built the lightboard, since it’s really fucking huge. Then we started ordering supplies and designating roles. Thankfully, some Bomber ’21s who were involved in the original project had taken gap years and thus were still around to guide us.
The actual building commenced in the first week of April. We needed to build the structure, paint the wood, cut it to size and assemble the supports. Then, we needed to do a ton of soldering. So much damn soldering. Finally, we would connect everything and pray it worked.
Around ten Bombers worked nonstop for several days to finish everything on time. Testing commenced the day before DTYD, and only a singular LED strip ended up working, so our ability to finish was in peril.
Sadly, we were unable to finish the project in time. It’ll definitely be done by our party this October, though!!
Making posters and putting them up is one of my favorite parts of event planning. I really enjoy making acronym posters and printing them on bright orange paper so they’re visible across campus. Some acronyms we used this year were: Da Thiccest Yonder Damsel, Don’t Twiddle Your Diddle, and the classic, Don’t Tell Your Dad (check out this picture of the hack from 2007, which features a DTYD banner hung on Lobby 7). It’s funny to use acronyms to advertise this party since they give no information about what the event actually entails. Normally, there’s an upperclassmen transfer of knowledge about traditions like these, but since only the class of 2022 ever got to experience DTYD, there were a ton of confused students once these posters went out.
Here are some of the nice posters we made:
…And here are the memey ones!
For context, this one is a parody of the “Who is MIT” posters, which were made to publicize a documentary about MIT made by two seniors here. Post about that coming soon!
Imagine these posters on 13×19 high-quality paper, hanging all over campus. It was really something.
One of the most fun parts of throwing a party. Our $700 budget included dozens of orange and black streamers, hundreds of glow sticks, fluorescent orange tape, large black balloons that spelled DTYD 53rd, and so many goddamn orange and black balloons. We also got jumbo 36-inch balloons that we threw into the party when it reached its peak.
We spent several hours on Saturday blowing up balloons (thankfully with a pump and not manually like last time), putting up streamers, making a dance floor out of the fluorescent tape, and plastering posters over the dividers splitting off the dance area from the rest of the room. Walker Memorial isn’t the most ideal space to throw a party, but throwing a shit ton of orange and black decor in definitely helps.
Food and Drinks
DTYD is not a dry party. Having alcohol at a huge event entails jumping through a bunch of hoops to ensure everyone is kept safe. We had to submit a safety plan, find licensed bartenders, and obtain a police detail for the party. We also are legally required to serve food, so we catered hundreds of burritos.
Due to last-minute issues with party registration, procuring a police detail became a bit of a roadblock. We ended up having to change the party from open to everyone to MIT-only, which was unfortunate. Thankfully, there ended up being no issues with security. People came in, and security checked their MIT IDs and gave them wristbands if they were over 21. Partygoers could purchase drink tickets for 33rd cents and present up to two at a time before the call time to get their drinks. We tracked drinks, capped everyone at five, and had security keep an eye out for anyone in danger.
Food-wise, the burritos were a hit, even if they got a bit soggy by the end of the party. We restocked all the burritos we had in hand every half hour, and they were all gone by the end of the night.
DTYD 53rd Weekend
Festivities started on Thursday with the Alumni Pub Crawl and continued into Friday for the formal. Finding a venue for formal was an absolute disaster since the spaces we’d normally use had closed during the pandemic, but we managed to settle on a place in Faneuil Hall. It was pretty nice despite playing the worst remixes of songs I’d ever heard..
On Saturday, set-up began. We all showed up to Walker at 12 PM and started setting up decorations, moving tables, and putting up signs. We also had to do a sound check and meet with space coordinators to check-in about the party.
With all the hands we had, everything took only a few hours, and we were able to go home to change and get ready. We rallied back at Walker around 7 for a fun tradition called hockey awards, where the Burton Third seniors present a funny award to each underclassman. For example, I received the “Town Crier Award” since I’m notorious on the floor for gossiping (oops!). After all the hockey awards are given out, the freshmen present senior superlatives to the seniors.
We then took our class picture! Woooo!
The party started at 9 with the live band. No one really comes to parties from 9-10, so the band is traditionally for the Bombers to hang out and talk. I was a bit averse to a live band at a party, but I really enjoyed the music. They played peppy songs that were easy to vibe to, like Skate by Silk Sonic and Fuck You by CeeLo Green. They also played some of my favorite Strokes songs right now, like Under Cover of Darkness and You Only Live Once.
After the band’s 90-minute set, we transitioned to the DJ, and the rest of the night was a blur. Dancing on the band stage with the other Bombers was super fun. Walker isn’t a great space since it’s huge and parties are way more fun when they feel packed, but I wasn’t too pressed about it. Naturally, we were limited by capacity, so as much as I wished all the people in the long line outside could be let in by security, we didn’t have a choice.
Can’t wait for the Porter room next year! It’s way better for throwing parties, and it’s in our own dorm :’)
When it ended, I afterpartied at a Bomber apartment until 5 AM. Usually, that’s not a great choice since we have to go clean the space in the morning, but I didn’t have to do any cleaning since two freshmen took care of it. Yay freshmen!
Then, all we had to do was start setting up for the alumni barbecue. We were surprised to see a ’76 Bomber pull up to the event, and even more surprised to hear that hockey awards have been a DTYD tradition ever since he was a student. Some other alumni came and we chatted for a few hours, but then I had to say my goodbyes since I had so much fucking work to do after all the days of partying.
And that concluded my first ever DTYD! It’s a pity that my first one had to be the year I was one of the people in charge of running it, but oh well. Shoutout to the other three floor chairs for doing such an amazing job with planning and running DTYD, and shoutout to everyone on the floor who helped set up, clean up, drive stuff around, haul really fucking heavy speakers, and make sure the party runs smoothly.
DTYD and all its side events are an integral part of my community, so I’m grateful I finally got to experience them. I’m excited for my senior year DTYD, which will be on the weekend it’s supposed to be and in the place it’s traditionally hosted in. Also, I’ll be a senior (!!) and won’t have to do any work in terms of planning <333
Hope you enjoyed this not-so-brief glimpse into planning a 53-year old tradition :)
- the weekend of the Boston Marathon back to text ↑
- exec members back to text ↑
- marathon monday back to text ↑
- the large event fund back to text ↑
- the park alongside the Charles on the Boston side back to text ↑
- the student center back to text ↑