July 23, 2019 | 71° F

Preparation for Rutgers Dance Marathon kicks off with Club DM

Nearly 900 first-year students attended Sunday's event in the College Ave Gymnasium

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez and Dimitri Rodriguez |

On Sunday, Rutgers hosted "Club DM" in the College Avenue Gymnasium to prepare for Dance Marathon. Last year Dance Marathon raised over $1 million in donations for the Embrace Kids Foundation.

The spirit of Dance Marathon starts early with Club DM, an event that stirred excitement among students for an upcoming year of fundraising events and good times.

Students looking to enter the event were welcomed into the College Avenue Gymnasium this past Sunday at 10 p.m. with a $10 fee at the door. Proceeds from the event went toward the overall creation of Dance Marathon, which will take place at the end of the academic year.

Natalie Roberts , the assistant director for Club DM, said the event was once held as an hour segment of Dance Marathon’s 30-hour run but has become separate since Dance Marathon was split into two 12-hour sessions.

Members of Dance Marathon then decided to hold the event at the beginning of each year as a separate fundraiser to pique student interest, Roberts said. The organization plans to build on the event’s success in its second year with hopes that it will continue to churn out more students.

Proceeds from both events help to fund the Embrace Kids Foundation, an organization focused on improving the quality of life for families whose children are facing cancer and other serious health challenges in the New Jersey and New York City area, according to their site. 

“The event looks to raise money and spread awareness on campus about Rutgers Dance Marathon,” Roberts said. “It’s the first big fundraising event for RUDM of the year and the goal is to get the word out about dancer registration opening Sept. 4.”

Hinal Patel, the director of finance for Club DM, said she oversees fundraising goals and assists dancers looking to participate in Dance Marathon. In addition to the financial support the organization provides, they also seek to emotionally support families in need.

As part of its fundraising, the organization reaches out to members of the Rutgers community and local businesses looking to gather support for Dance Marathon, Patel said. Club DM functions as a medium for Dance Marathon to advertise itself and spread the word for those looking to get involved.

These events culminate with Dance Marathon and are merely a drop in the bucket to the over $1 million that the event raised last year, an all-time record for the organization since its reintroduction of the event in 1998,  according to their site.

“We got nearly 900 freshmen, which is great. They have only been here for a couple of days and do not really know what is happening yet so it is really great to see that in only our second year,” Patel said. “It goes to show that our strategy is working and that we are getting our name out there.”

She said that the event featured a DJ set decorated with neon lights for a rave-like atmosphere and gave students the opportunity to socialize and dance with one another. Initially, first-year students were the target audience but upon noticing upperclassman interest, the event began to become more inclusive. 

Chris Castillo, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said the event was ideal for students interested in raves and that electronic dance music was played all throughout the night.

The event was close to reaching capacity and it was clear that students were enjoying themselves, he said. Organizers of the event did a great job at including students and making it a memorable time, students were doing the wave and tossing one another in the air.

“Even if you don’t like it you should check it out. I wanted to see what it was about and meet people,” Castillo said. “I went in a group with two of my friends and were fortunate enough to meet people along the way.”

Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.  

Christian Zapata

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