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Millennium Ball to offer glimpses of the past and the future

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This Saturday night, 29 days into the new year, MIT will celebrate the new millennium with an Institute-wide party.

Transforming the Stratton Student Center from the ordinary building where we conduct campus business into an elegant milieu for music, dancing and other entertainment, the Millennium Ball (January 29 from 8pm-midnight) will offer a way for faculty, staff and students to mingle in a purely social setting.

"While most communities ushered in the millennium on January 1, we wanted to wait a bit until more people were back on campus for our celebration," said President Charles M. Vest, who plans to attend the ball with his wife, Rebecca. "With music and activities for many tastes and many generations, quiet spaces and noisy places, this should be a wonderful gathering of students, faculty and staff to usher in our new year."

Music, d�cor and desserts will span the decades from 1940 to 1990 with different areas of the building representing particular eras. Special lighting and set designs will aid the transformation.

In the Sala de Puerto Rico, DJ Joe Agovino will spin Swing and Latin tunes from the 1940s, as well as Reggae, Hip-Hop and other selections from the 1980s and '90s. The Soul City band will perform rock songs from the 1950s, '60s and '70s in a psychedelically decorated Lobdell. The first floor will metamorphose into a sophisticated piano bar with continuous music by Justin Klosek (SM 1997), a performer at Jake Ivory's on Landsdowne Street and in New York City, and another pianist.

The MIT Museum is providing photographs and other objects representative of MIT history to make a 112-foot timeline on the second floor. A short video presentation of old film footage showing MIT during the 1920s through the 1950s will run in the Mezzanine Lounge. Twenty Chimneys will hold models of future MIT buildings.

In addition to the historical aspects of the evening, the Coffeehouse will provide mystical entertainment offering a glimpse into the future by astrologers and tarot card readers.

The Student Art Association has planned an interactive art installation of the New York City A-train in the Wiesner Gallery for guests' self-expression.

A 1950s-style malt shop, an espresso and tea bar and a chocolate mousse tower are just three of the assorted refreshment bars that will serve throughout the evening.

Suggested dress is black tie or festive attire, but tuxedos and ball gowns are definitely not required. "It's a dressy affair, but people don't have to rent a tux," said Gayle Gallagher, director of Conference Services and planner of the Ball. "We hope people will be appropriately yet creatively attired."

Initiated by the IAP policy committee, planned by Conference Services and co-sponsored by the President's Office and the Office of the Dean for Students and Undergraduate Education, this community-building event is the first Institute-wide ball to be held since President Vest's inauguration ball in September 1990.

The planning committee is encouraging departments and student living groups to hold dinners and pre-parties as a way of building enthusiasm for the ball. At press time, Bexley, MacGregor, Senior House and East Campus all had planned dinners in conjunction with the event.

East Campus invites all Institute faculty and staff to join them for their pre-ball dinner in Talbot Lounge at 6:30pm. Anyone wishing to dine at East Campus that night may contact Jen Frank at for more information.

Tickets for the Millennium Ball are $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and their guests. Advance tickets are available at the Information Center (Rm 7-121), Lobby 10, The Source (first floor of the Student Center) and the MITAC Offices (Rm 50-005 and Lincoln Lab B-210). Tickets will also be sold at the door. For more information, see the Millennium Ball web site.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 26, 2000.

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