Then: Up All Night

For Northwestern students all-nighters often mean late-night cram sessions and countless cups of coffee. But in the mid- to late 1970s Norris University Center hosted a quarterly evening of fun and festivities to keep the night-owl crowd awake from dusk till dawn.

Beginning in January 1975, when Norris started hosting the all-nighters, students converged on the student center for a night of dancing, movies, trivia, cheesecake-eating and bubble-gum blowing contests, tarot card readings, video-game showdowns and, of course, free coffee. Hypnotists and other entertainers invited the students to become part of their shows, and a relaxation artist offered a session on “how to relax and make it through college.”

The first all-nighter, a huge success, drew a crowd of 1,200 students who ate nearly 300 gallons of ice cream and almost 450 grinder sandwiches, according to the Daily Northwestern. It also spawned Uncle Bob’s Outhouse at Norris, a late-night coffeehouse that served up local music.

“The all-nighters brought students together through this giant slumber party, and you could meet other students whom you couldn’t have known through classes and activities,” says Geoff Roth (J77, GJ78), a former all-nighter performer who hypnotized students and convinced them to “run around like chickens.”

“Sometimes getting together and talking to one another face to face is difficult,” Roth adds, “and events like the all-nighters really made that possible.”

The all-nighters ended in the late 1970s, but many alumni remember those long nights at Norris, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

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Ever wonder about those strange designations we use throughout Northwestern to identify alumni of the various schools of the University? See the complete list.

See more images from 40 years at the Norris University Center.