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Cultural Event: Night Market a Festive Foray Into Asian Culture Several Student Groups Provide A Night of Affordable Fun

By Elizabeth K. Zakszewski

NightMarket

Sponsored by Chinese Students Club, Asian American Association, Association of Taiwanese Students,
Undergraduate Association, Assisting Recurring Cultural and Diversity Events

Lobdell Food Court

Friday, Oct. 7, 2005

7–11 p.m.

Last week Friday I took it upon myself to see what NightMarket was all about. I’ve heard about this annual event every year I’ve been at MIT, but I decided in my last year that I couldn’t pass it up. So I took a friend and ventured to Lobdell shortly after 7 p.m. to relish Asian culture, food, and fun.

The old dining hall had been turned into makeshift carnival grounds with dim lighting, a loud rock band with dancing space in the center, and booths of food, games, and crafts around the perimeter. In one corner of the dance floor, a group of patrons tried out Chinese yo-yos, and at one booth students were selling dishes of green tea and red bean flavored ice cream. My friend and I began to get hungry after taking in all the sights and sounds, so we ventured to the second floor where the majority of the food seemed to be.

The $2 entrance fee to the event bought five tickets, which were to be traded in for food (more tickets could be purchased at the same rate of 5 for $2 or a better deal for buying more). Two tickets bought me a bowl of rice, chicken, and green beans. Three bought my friend a bowl of noodles and pineapple shrimp. It was a pretty good deal for 80 cents, and the food was absolutely delicious. I even felt like a character in an anime show, hungrily shoveling the rice into my mouth with chopsticks. The food area was crowded and chaotic with hungry patrons lining up for seconds and students bringing out fresh trays to keep everyone fed. I didn’t have a chance to see where this food came from except that one food table was serving from Quan’s Kitchen. I bought dessert of some kind of flan and rice gelatin from the Korean Students’ Association that was delicious and only cost one ticket.

After I ate a pleasant dinner and watched a dance group perform to some catchy Asian music, the rock group (which was unpleasantly loud and only played American popular music) started playing again, and we went to check out the games. My friend tried tossing a Nerf football or basketball into a paper hole to win a fortune cookie. I tried shooting a tapioca bubble through a bubble tea straw at a paper target, which was really fun once I go the hang of it. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Asian students’ event without big-screen DDR (which was there), but what particularly interested me was a similar game with drums and sticks that was pretty challenging. The fortune cookies had custom-made fortunes for the event, but mine didn’t read that I’d won a raffle prize, as we were told some did.

Craft booths included wax sculpting, calligraphy, and lantern painting. I tried my luck at painting on a paper lantern, which I was quite pleased with and got to take home for only $1. My friend got a henna tattoo from a real South Asian henna artist for only $2, a price that can’t be found outside an event like this. And after discovering that the raffle prize table sold fortune cookies three for one dollar, we each won a prize (gift certificates to a hair salon). All in all, aside from the loud music being a bit too much for the confined indoor space, the event was fun and cheaper than any carnival I’d ever been to. The patrons, whose ethnicities were as diverse as those of our campus, all appeared to be enjoying themselves. This is an annual event I would recommend checking out in the future, if you haven’t yet.