Dance party held to celebrate conclusion of Reif’s presidency
Over 10,000 community members attended the event, which took place at three venues
“Let’s Dance,” a party event organized by MIT Institute Events to celebrate the conclusion of President L. Rafael Reif’s 10 years of presidency at MIT took place Sept. 17. Reif announced last spring that he would step down at the end of 2022.
Ted Johnson, director of Institute Events, wrote in an email to The Tech that the event was organized at the request of Reif and “was the president’s thank-you and appreciation event for faculty, staff, and students.”
The event, which lasted from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, saw more than 10,000 community members attend with their friends and families, according to Johnson. Community members were allowed to bring one adult guest and any accompanying children to the event. Attendees were admitted via wristbands picked up at Killian Court and near Kresge.
Johnson wrote that hundreds of staff contributed to the planning and production of the party’s events and that “planning came together over the summer, during which we sought musical talent from Cambridge and greater Boston.” Additionally, Institute Events “developed activities that would provide entertainment for guests of all ages who have a wide range of interests.”
The party took place in several locations, including the Johnson Athletic Center Ice Rink, the Rockwell Cage, the Kresge Oval, and Killian Court.
The night began with a “Community Cafe” event from 6:30–8 p.m., which served buffet supper in the Johnson Ice Rink and Kresge Oval; the supper menu consisted of salmon, chicken and tofu skewers, potato salad, kale and quinoa salad, breadsticks, chocolate bread pudding, and peach cobbler.
An a cappella showcase was held in the ice rink at 7 p.m., featuring student a cappella groups the Chorallaries, Syncopasian, the Ohms, the Muses, Resonance, and the Logarhythms. Johnson wrote to The Tech that Reif and Professor Raúl Radovitzky “personally invited the a cappella groups to collaborate on the showcase.”
In an email to The Tech, Tiffany Trinh ’22 described the atmosphere of the ice rink as “lively and colorful” but found the food aside from the dessert “dry and disappointing.”
Following the a cappella performances, Reif greeted the audience before leading a conga line out of the ice rink.
Beginning at 8 p.m., the dance party started across campus, with live music or DJs playing from 8 or 9 p.m. to midnight at three venues. The venues were tents erected at the “World of Music Pavilion” on Kresge Oval, the “Swing into Salsa Club” at the Johnson Ice Rink, and the “Campus Night Club and Lounge” on Killian Court.
Mamadou, a Sengalese African band, and Arabic Band featuring Ahmaed Kayssi performed live at the Kresge tent until 11 p.m., after which a DJ played music from various countries, including Bollywood, K-pop, hip-hop, and Israeli club music.
Miguel Talamantez ’25 wrote in an email to The Tech that The Mood Swingers Jazz Orchestra that played in the ice rink salsa club was “absolutely incredible” and that “there were many amazing dancers in the audience.” The salsa club also featured Los Sugar Kings who performed Afro-Cuban Son, Salsa, and Rumba-Flamenca music.
The night club and lounge on Killian included two tents, one where dancing took place featuring Groove Boston with DJ Bobby D and another where refreshments were served.
Sandra Tang ’23 wrote that the dancing in the tents “was really fun and felt like a real concert you’d go to downtown,” though the area was “very crowded, especially up towards the front, complete with the lots of pushing and shoving that is typical of many concerts.”
Trinh expressed that the dancing in the Kresge and Killian tents was “the most enjoyable part of the night, with good beats and vibes alike.” Trinh also appreciated that the dancing took place in an “open and well-ventilated area with free food and drinks,” adding that it “certainly surpassed every frat or dorm party” she had attended.
Event attendees aged 21 and older were able to enjoy complimentary alcoholic beverages during supper and at each of the venues. Each of the three venues also continued to serve non-alcoholic beverages and food throughout the night, including nachos, pizza, waffle fries, chicken wings, cupcakes, cookies, and macarons.
Additionally, throughout the entire event, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, a “Boardwalk Arcade” was set up in Rockwell Cage. Community members enjoyed music from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s while also playing games such as foosball, boardwalk basketball, air hockey, carnival games, and arcade games. Lemonade, lime rickeys, popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones were also served at the arcade.
The party was received well by student attendees. Tang wrote that she attended the event with people from other schools and that “it gave them a really good impression of MIT (although not entirely accurate of typical life at the Institute).”
Apart from “excruciating” wait times for wristbands, refreshments, and food, Trinh — who graduated in May and traveled from another state to attend the party — wrote that the party was “definitely worth the trip” and that a highlight for her was “seeing the whole MIT community come together and have a good time.”
Talamantez echoed this sentiment, writing that MIT “should absolutely do this more often” and that the party “really brought together the MIT community like no other event has.”
On the Monday following the party, Reif sent a thank you email to the MIT community, writing that he and his wife Chris visited each of the party’s venues and expressing his gratitude toward all of the event’s attendees and organizers.
“I could not have asked for a more delightful memory of the people of MIT,” Reif wrote.