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Tonight, 1,600 dancers will gather in Fetzer Gymnasium to kick off the 12th annual UNC Dance Marathon. Patience Obasaju, the operations chairperson for Dance Marathon, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the marathon.

Set-up Quick Facts:

When: Thursday 5 p.m – 2 a.m. , Friday 8 a.m – 7:30 p.m.

Who: More than 300 committee members, facilities staff of Fetzer and Carolina Union Production Services

Where: Fetzer Gymnasium

What has to be accomplished before the marathon?

Before the marathon starts, all of the banners must be hung and the balloon drops must be set. The stage and all the equipment for the production services must also be set. We have tables that need to be set up in various parts of the Fetzer for dancer for moralers and volunteers to check in. Additionally, we set up sheets as barricades in specific parts of the gym. The final details of set up are hanging banners and directional signs outside of Fetzer.

What is the basic setup of the marathon?

We use the two main gyms as well as some classrooms in Fetzer for the marathon. Gym A is where the stage is and all the performances are. In the back of gym A is also where the visitors section is. Gym B is where we have games going on during the marathon as well as all of our meals. We use the classrooms to store food, hold performers before they go on stage and keep the personal belongings of committee members.

How do you keep the marathon running smoothly?

The operations committee has various roles during the marathon that ensure that it runs smoothly. They assist with loading/unloading bands, food set up, serving and clean-up, and general maintenance of the gym. They are stationed at various places in Fetzer assisting with visitor check-in, monitoring the visitor section and helping the volunteers.

What is the most tedious part of the set up?

The most tedious part of set up is definitely duct taping! Overall we tape and hang close to 600 banners. It’s a lot of work to get all the tape on the back of the banners. Another tedious part of set up is the balloon drop. We have four balloon drops with hundreds of balloon in each of them and all of the balloon needs to be tied by hand.

What is the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge of set up is time. All of the things need to go up on the walls, but we have to ensure that Fetzer can function normally on Friday. Because of this we can only set up to a certain extent Thursday night and must resume the rest early Friday morning. During normal business hours we have to make sure that we don't disturb of the classrooms or offices but we have to work to get everything set by the time the dancers start checking in.

What is the most complicated task for set-up?

The most complicated task for set-up is hanging some of the large banners. We're hanging a treasure chest over the entrance of gym B which includes three 30-foot banners and six 13-foot banners. The largest banner that hangs behind the stage is 45 feet long. Because these banners are so long and hang so high, we have to rent electronic lifts.

What is the most fun about set-up?

The most fun thing about set-up is spending so much time with committee members. We really get a chance to bond before the marathon and in general the atmosphere is one of excitement for the marathon.

What is the most surprising thing about what goes on behind the scenes?

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I think what surprises people the most is how many banners are hung and how much duct tape is used. We have over 14 miles of duct tape to hang around 600 banners. Also I don't think people realize that almost all of set up is done by students.

What is your biggest fear about the marathon?

Things will come up during the marathon that might not be planned and that will need to be dealt with on the spot, but for the most part I trust that myself and all the committee members will be able to make the marathon run smoothly.

What are you most excited about?

I'm most excited about seeing all the banners hung on the wall. We've been painting the banners in Carmichael ballroom every Sunday since October. It'll be nice to see all the hard work that has been done up on the walls.

What will you be most relieved about?

I'll be most relieved once all of set up is complete and the marathon is ready to go!