Like the opening notes of a Logarhythms A Cappella set, the beginning of a night out at MIT was filled with upbeat promise and anticipation. Having only been there briefly during the fall of my freshman year, I was ready to give the home of the disco dance floor another shot. The allure of science, math, and physics partying called to me.
I recruited two friends to go on this journey across Cambridge. Since my blockmates were otherwise occupied during the three-day weekend, with a Chinese New Year’s party at the Spee and Valentine’s arrangements, I reconnected with some people from my freshman year dorm. While looking up departure times for the #1 bus, we prepared to embark on an uncertain adventure.
The plan had originally been to contact some friends at MIT and inquire about the events taking place that night. Unfortunately, everyone we talked to was unclear about exactly what would be happening—so we decided to wing it. We were going to a college campus on a Saturday night; the odds, as any math student could tell you, would surely be on our side.
Upon arrival, the first flashy sight that greeted us was a sign advertising Anna’s Taqueria, one of several food establishments located in the MIT Stratton Student Center. Multicolored chalk adorned the entrance to the center, advertising a party sponsored by the International Students Association called iNight. We peeked in to find a venue vaguely reminiscent of the SOCH and decided that the resemblance was too uncanny.
The next stop was a cluster of waterfront fraternities located on Memorial Drive. Expecting music and sick bass beats, we were disappointed by the sound of silence. The only bass resonating from the row of houses came from one that was fully lit, a virtual beacon for those sailing the Charles at night.
After wandering for a bit, we meandered back to the student center and were approached by some of the international students mingling near iNight. They offered both advice and help. We wondered—how could we turn this iNight into an iParty?
Many MIT regulars pointed us toward events on Beacon Street in Boston, where some of their other fraternities were located in brownstones. Since my friends who had been supportive through this ordeal had no interest in venturing into the city, we decided to head home. Although we had some major setbacks during the night, it was nonetheless fun getting to know the people on campus including a Russian math major who broke us into the computer lab to get house addresses and a posse of sweatpants-clad students who tried to guide us to various festivities.
By no means do I think my experience is representative of a typical night at MIT besides the chance I had to meet some interesting people. I’d heard from others that just the day before, both the main campus and Beacon Street were abuzz with parties. The last time I was there, things were going on all over the place. What my friends and I went through seems like an unlucky case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Home to 27 fraternities, 6 sororities, and an African-American brotherhood called Chocolate City, MIT has an array of social spaces and groups. According to a friend, their frat parties are generally less restricted than some of the final club gatherings at Harvard and there’s a shuttle that connects the frats on main campus and the ones in Boston. It’s been said that MIT students p-set during the week and party during the weekend; nerds know how to throw down like the best of them.
Despite the inclusive social culture there, I recommend having a friend at MIT to guide you around for your first time, so you know where things are happening and what’s going on. Otherwise, you might end up like me, all dressed up with nowhere to Asian glow.