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Bright lights in dark places

After her grandmother told her she needed a life After getting sick of sitting in the library, festival fanatic Claire Friedman went to check out Night Market in a much-needed break from the Butler midterms grind.

In the amount of time I’ve spent stressing about midterms this week, I could watch the entirety of Lost, fly to Australia several times, or build a small colony of gingerbread houses. Instead of any of those exciting options, though, I’ve been at the library. Specifically Butler 210, if you feel like coming by to say hello or shower me with candy.

After hours of stale library air and overpriced ButCaf pastries, Night Market felt like stepping back and taking a deep breath. Judging from the “mole-person-seeing-the-light-for-the-first-time” expressions on the faces of other market-goers, I was not the only one who felt this way. Held annually by the CSC, Night Market is meant to emulate the famous markets of China and Taiwan. Though I’ve never been to Asia, I can say that the CSC did a fantastic job transforming Low with huge tents, bright lights, and blaring music. Even in these dark and desperate times, Night Market managed to make Columbia look – dare I say it? – festive.

Although I visited the Market just minutes after downing an entire chicken-cheese-steak from John Jay, I made a beeline for any tents offering food. Thankfully, this was not a difficult task – almost every single booth promised some form of ridiculously cheap pastry and the Korilla Korean barbeque truck held court on College Walk. A quick survey of my pockets yielded only a nickel and a mint of unknown vintage, but I still managed to snag a good-sized cupcake and a free water bottle.

Cupcake in hand, I set about exploring the rest of what Night Market had to offer. Activities ranging from classic carnival games to nail art (a steal at $5) were set up in wide concentric circles, perfect for the casual wanderer who wants to feel lost in a maze of baked goods. Surprisingly, nobody was game to do my nails in exchange for an old mint. I tried not to take it too personally.

The centerpiece of the Market (both literally and figuratively) was the live performance showcase situated in the middle tent. As dance groups aplenty and several brave solo acts performed throughout the night, I found myself wondering where all of these crazy-talented people were coming from. Maybe my friends are just useless husks, but Night Market made me appreciate how many truly amazing people there are at Columbia. I’m getting all teary just thinking about it. The highlight of the performance lineup was the K-Pop dance group CU Generation, who brought the energy, the flannel, and some much needed Beyonce. The night’s emcees also deserve a shout-out for their steady stream of fantastic dad jokes.

On the way home, holding the remnants of my cupcake, I heard a fellow market-goer tell her friend, “it’s nice to see people at Columbia having fun.” It seems obvious, but midterms have a way of turning Columbians into library-dwelling goblins. In the endless night of three-midterm courses, Night Market reminds us to stop stressing and have fun.

Hello darkness my old friend via Shutterstock