Over the weekend, Fellows Garden was the center of campus life, with brilliantly strung lights and contemporary pop songs resonating through the crabapple tree branches—nothing could have better set the mood for the Taiwanese Student Association’s (TSA) Nightmarket. As the sun set and the night slowly darkened, a line began to form around the SCC as students waited with extreme anticipation. From year to year, some things never change.
The second largest event with free food on campus, just one step behind the Midnight Buffet, TSA managed to host an event meant to represent the bustling streets of Taiwan. On Saturday, Oct. 8, students were confronted with the most delicious food from a number of ICC clubs, including TSA, BAASA, BBSO, BC3, Club Cantonese, JSA, KSA, SASA, SEAC, VSA. Unlike previous Nightmarkets, this one incorporated a far greater range of cultural clubs in order to promote more diverse cultures at what has always been a very popular event.
“This year we tried focusing on collaborating within other cultures rather than staying within ourselves because … it was more about blending cultures together rather than trying to promote our own culture,” vice president of KSA Sang Min Lee ’18 said. “I felt like this year … we had the mindset of blending our cultures together, and I really like where KSA’s going right now because this year we were trying to collaborate with many different clubs.”
A sample of the event’s food included BBSO’s fried fish and cornbread, JSA’s curry rice, SEAC’s mango tapioca pudding and plentiful vegetarian options. Those few dishes, however wonderful, do not tell the full story of the diversity of food offered at the event. What’s really fantastic about the format of Nightmarket is that it gives students the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and try foods that they wouldn’t have necessarily tried otherwise. In other words, Nightmarket is conducive to open-mindedness in genres of food in a way that restaurants simply aren’t. That, in and of itself, might account for the high rate of attendance to each year’s Nightmarket.
The lines began forming at least a half hour before the start of the event at 6 p.m. However, when the clock struck six, students were left waiting another 10 minutes to begin the epic feast, which made the tantalizing food behind the yellow tape seem all the more appealing. Whatever the wait, the delicious plates were more than worth it. The way I view it, it’s more or less the cost of free food.
Though it can be very difficult to accommodate so many people in such a small space, something that future Nightmarkets can improve upon is organization. The tables at the front of the line are interminably packed with students as they rush in for food, slowing down the flow of the line and thus forcing others to check out the end tables. I don’t think it’s too much to say, however, that a little extra planning might make this process more efficient and speedier.
That one criticism aside, Nightmarket is an event that brings Brandeisians together under the night stars, emphasizing a sense of community among the student body. When the food is warm and perfectly prepared as students sit together on the lush grass of Fellows Garden, there’s no better picture that I can think of.
“I think this is a really cool event because all the cultural clubs get to come together and share a bit of their cuisine with the whole school, and because it’s in Fellows Garden, everything is really close together, and they’re able to decorate it really nicely,” attendee Alana Hodson ’19 said. Her positivity abounded as she went on to say, “It puts a really good communal mood to everything … but I feel that it really represents what Brandeis tries to put forward as their most attractive component, the sense of community.”