Gophers After Dark: Entertainment for students, by students

"It is a great way to meet other students, develop already established friendships, and socialize with a wide variety of students. Other than the convenient location, the best part is that the events are FREE!"

At Gophers After Dark, students can participate in a variety of games, including laser tag, dodgeball, billiards and galactic bowling. Students on the University of Minnesota campus aren't just found learning in classrooms, studying in libraries and sleeping in residence halls.

Each Friday and Saturday night, Coffman Student Union is bustling with energy as students socialize and enjoy movies, comedy acts, concerts, interactive games and food late into the night at a program called Gophers After Dark (GAD). Gophers After Dark gives students who have been hitting the books an opportunity to kick back and enjoy free entertainment right on campus.

"It is a great way to meet other students, develop already established friendships, and socialize with a wide variety of students. Other than the convenient location, the best part is that the events are FREE!" says Alex King, a marketing major in the class of 2008.

Gophers After Dark is held on Friday and Saturday nights in Coffman Memorial Union. Alex and fellow sophomore and journalism student Amanda Isaacson serve as the student coordinators of the program. As coordinators, Alex and Amanda brainstorm events, work with vendors, create marketing campaigns, and make sure the events run smoothly.

One of the trademarks of Gophers After Dark is its diversity of attractions. "I love how one night at GAD can be totally different than the next night; the atmosphere and events are always changing and the energy is great!" says Alex.

Amanda adds that the ever-changing variety of programming "...gives students a chance to try new things like laser tag, but also participate in things they already enjoy doing, like dodge ball and bowling."

Past events have included an oxygen bar, a "Dance Dance Revolution" contest, a Mary Kay cosmetics spa night, and even a comedy routine by "Saturday Night Live" comedian Seth Meyers.

Alex and Amanda agree that their favorite memory from this year was Carnival night, sponsored by Coca-Cola. "We had a lot of free [Coca-Cola] products to give away, a juggling comedian, carnival games, carnival food, a caricature artist, a face painter, an inflatable slide, jousting, and an obstacle course," says Amanda.

The Whole music club in Coffman Union has featured up-and-coming artists CATCHPenny, Ari Herstand, Tapes n' Tapes, The Bravery, Matt Wertz and The New Amsterdams. Future plans for Gophers After Dark include a University of Minnesota version of the popular television show "Last Comic Standing," a street dance, a maroon-and-gold theme night, a hypnotist, and glow-in-the-dark ultimate Frisbee among old favorites like free massages, dance lessons and sports tournaments.

Gophers After Dark is part of the University's Minnesota Programs and Activities Council (MPAC). MPAC provides students with leadership opportunities through planning events for the University of Minnesota's campus community, like Homecoming and Spring Jam.

"For me, Gophers After Dark has been a life-changing experience that has opened up my eyes to the future," Alex says of his leadership experience with MPAC. "Meeting people and being associated with so many events on-campus are opportunities I know I would have never been able to get anywhere else."

You can get involved, too!

-Chelsy Quiram

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Last Modified on Thursday, March 22, 2012
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