With voter suppression, Trump investigations, Russian interference and the American political system breaking down right before our very eyes, it’s hard not to cringe at the idea of U.S. politics. But for this weekend, Northwestern students get to set aside all of their discontent at the American political system and forfeit their rights and free will to the feudal system of Dance Marathon.
The Executive Board
At the top of the food chain stands a 22-person executive board. Most of them can be spotted with radio sets and clipboards. They have free range to walk around Norris and they get to make all the calls. Even within this top 1 percent class is a division of power with each person on the executive board holding power over various aspects of Dance Marathon from finances to marketing and media. If it came down to it though, the top two rulers would be the DM executive co-chairs, Justin Savin and CJ Patel.
The Red Shirts
For the dancers, most of this bureaucratic committee has little to no effect on them laying down their rights to the Dance Marathon political system, but the next important group of people in power is security. Also known as Red Shirts, they are easy to spot because of their red uniforms. They have the power to keep the dancers held within the tent and control their rights to leave the venue. There’s only one question up in the air: Are their shirts a threat or a challenge?
The job of the red shirts can’t be done alone. With so many subjects to control, they have their own batch of minions to work under them. The Blue Shirts work for the dancer accessibility and experience committee, which is a fancy official title for having the most direct control over the dancers. Although this makes them seem the most powerful to the dancing subjects, they’re ultimately at the whim of the executive board and Red Shirts.
These two people take the stage for 30 hours and never give in to the sleep deprivation and exhaustion that everyone knows they’re secretly feeling the most. Although they might seem like they hold power by making all of the calls for when the dancers come in and out and when guests appear, they are truly just slaves at the whim of the masters of DM. They are the equivalent of 21st century British royalty.
The Inner Circle
At the dancer level, these students have more energy than most people have throughout the course of their life. They are usually students who have done it for all 120 hours or plan on doing it in the future. They find joy in sleepless nights, sweat and tears. Unlike most people, these un-humans find energy rather than weakness in dancing, unlike most other dancers. They can usually be found right next to the speakers at the front of the stage during the event and sleeping in their beds for the 48 hours after the event ends.
The Narrow Middle Class
These dancers might be the up-and-coming 120-hour dancers. They might not have the most experience under their belt and might be a little disoriented by the whole process, but they crowd near the center and haven’t entirely lost all hope by the end of Block 1.
Peasant Fools on the Outskirts
The majority of dancers fit into this category. These are the freshmen who got tricked into doing it early on into fall quarter or pressured into it by their friends. They have no interest in dancing or spending a night trapped in a tent, but they are here and don’t know a way out. They can be easily spotted with their phones out or standing in the outskirts not even trying to dance. By the end of the first few blocks, they are either trying to find a way out or getting picked up off the ground by the Blue Shirts. The peasant fools on the outskirts are all of us.
At the end of the 30 hours, Northwestern may have to go back to the reality of the American political system, but at least they get this time before break to dream of a feudal system that might arguably compete with politics today. But who’s to say?