The sun is sometimes shining. The gnats are spawning. Other schools are finishing up their academic years. That can only mean one thing: spring has sprung at Northwestern University. And in a few short weeks, Wildcats will celebrate the first in-person Dillo Day in three years, meaning only the class of 2022 has experienced the real thing before. We – me, my roommates and whoever else I could bother about this – are here to help you figure out what to expect on what could possibly be NU’s biggest day of the year from what we can remember of it.
1. Day drinking
An alcohol mention? This early in the article? You’d better believe it. Chronologically, day drinking (or whatever illicit substance you want, use your imagination) is also probably one of the first things you will do on Dillo Day. I think I took my first sip of a Smirnoff Ice™ at seven in the morning. The libraries are closed! Finals are vaguely on the horizon! People are ready to get wasted!
This isn’t an entirely unfamiliar concept (see: darties), but it is definitely more pervasive than any regular Saturday. Students will be wandering around Evanston with their White Claw cans completely out in the open. You may see keg stands or use a beer funnel in someone’s backyard. People may pee where they are definitely not supposed to pee. It’s feral. It’s the closest we get to feeling like a Big Ten school.
Obviously, you don’t have to drink if you don’t want to. Dillo is a blast with or without substance use. Plus, as fun as it might seem to go hard the day-of, the day after is brutal. But I guarantee you will still see it and be affected by it no matter what.
2. Some free Stuff… if you download an app
The pregame is over, and it’s time to make your way to actual Dillo. Beware, you need to get through security to get on the Lakefill, so keep your wristband on and either chug or get rid of whatever drinks you have left on your person.
Northwestern University loves to give its students free perks, and we love to take them. I have two t-shirts from women’s basketball games. My roommates have sweatshirts. We’ve all gotten free food. Dillo Day is no exception! Once you get to the Lakefill, there is an embarrassment of riches.
For Dillo 2019, there was some sort of deal for unlimited ferris wheel rides if you downloaded the Via app. There was another deal for food if you paid in Apple Cash, but I couldn’t figure out how to actually use the money and ended up with $15 of Apple Cash on my phone for two years before spending it on Dunkin’ mobile orders.
Then, of course, there are the performances from the artists! There are two different stages, one on the Lakefill and one on Lakeside Soccer Field. You can go wherever your heart desires.
3. An afternoon hangover
The daytime headliner is over and suddenly your head is pounding. I remember wondering if I screamed “MINNESOTA!” too loud during Hippocampus, or if I was in the midst of swooning over seeing Teyana Taylor perform. It was probably partially those things, but I was also on time for my afternoon hangover.
When a person drinks at night, they usually stumble home and fall asleep before the hangover can really set in. You get to delay the pain of it until the morning. When you start drinking in the early hours of the day, however, you can feel the hangover setting in right away.
Don’t fret, though – it’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the food trucks on the Lakefill. A Tomate burrito has never tasted so good.
4) Strategic naps
If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me lay it out for you: Dillo Day is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long day, and you do need to tap out every so often. Mayfest will put out a schedule of the acts in advance, so you can plan out when to head back to your dorm or apartment and sleep it off. You’ve had a long day – and it’s not over yet – so you deserve a break!
As a practical warning, there is increased security in dorms on Dillo. Guests have to be signed in or out, and they are strict. Northwestern will probably release more specific information about this closer to the day, but it’s something to anticipate.
5. The night is still young
It’s time for the nighttime performances. You wake up from your nap, have hopefully chugged some Gatorade and are ready for round two. This might mean an outfit change, more drinking or whatever else you need to do to get PUMPED! Dillo isn’t over yet!
After the nighttime headliner has taken their last bow, it’s time to finally wind down for the night. Your Lakefill snack from earlier may seem like a distant memory, so it’s time for more. Mine was vegan mac and cheese in the kitchen in South Mid-Quads. People get pizza. People get Chicken Shack. What you choose is up to you.
6. Fill in the blanks later
This will vary depending on the person, but the day after Dillo included some murder-mystery-style timeline work. Where was I? When? With who? Like any long night out, you might need to fill in the details later.
7. Expect the unexpected
There is only so much we can prepare you for. Dillo Day is different every year for every person. Things come up. Our first year, about half of the acts were rained out, and we just kept getting updates from Mayfest throughout the day. A$AP Ferg asked to see some Chicago titties. Anything can happen!
But please be safe, drink water, eat some snacks and most of all, have fun. Happy Dillo!
Thumbnail graphic by Ali Bianco.