MIT Folk Dance Club

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This page is about the structure and history of the entire MITFDC. For the current Israeli session, see Mit dancing.

The MIT Folk Dance Club was one of the most significant folk dance institutions in the northeastern US from the early 1960s through October 2018.


The Club grew out of a Sunday night dance session, almost all Israeli, that was part of Harvard Hillel around 1960, held in the Radcliffe gym. Sunday night dancing at MIT was started by Arthur Saltzman.[1]


Advanced Balkan and Eastern European


A separate Israeli-only session began in the spring of 1970, started by Mark Horenstein, Herb Lin, and Avi Yascowitz. Initially, "Israeli and Balkan used to fight over who would get Tuesday or Thursday night. As a result, both were moved around from year to year."[1] Around 1972, Israeli stabilized on Thursday nights. This situation lasted through September 15, 1977. After a week's hiatus for Yom Kippur on the 21/22, dancing moved to Wednesday nights starting on September 28.



In the late '70s (at least), the Club held no-repeat international dance marathons which ran Sunday from noon to midnight. (The marathon was suspended from 7:30 to 11:00 for regular Sunday night dancing, an important distinction because dances played earlier could be replayed during those hours.)

In December 1980, Ira Vishner organized an overnight Israeli marathon on Christmas Eve, which happened to be on Wednesday. His goal was to increase participation in the 1981 Boston Israeli Dance Festival, specifically targeting Parparim. The marathon concept was popular, and for several subsequent years an Israeli marathon was held, not on Wednesday, but on a Saturday night close to Christmas Eve. In 1986, with Christmas Eve again on Wednesday, the marathon was moved permanently to Christmas Eve except when Christmas falls on Saturday.

For many years the Israeli Marathon was held from 6:00 PM until 6:00 AM, with Larry Denenberg traditionally programming the last few hours, but since about 2005 the event has ended at 4:00 AM.

Because the MIT Student Center is closed on Christmas Eve, the Israeli Marathon has taken place in several other locations, frequently Walker Gym, but occasionally Burton Dining Hall. Since about 2012 the Marathon has been located at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline.

Beach Parties


Main article: Derecognition of the MITFDC

In October 2018 the Club was derecognized by the MIT Association of Student Activities[2] for insufficient student participation. The last Wednesday night session took place on October 31.

References and Links

  1. 1.0 1.1 Herb Lin's paper (pdf) on the history of the MITFDC, written ca. 1977.
  2. "Folk Dance Club de-recognized by ASA from The Tech, Vol 138 Issue 27.

Home page of the MITFDC.

Arthur Saltzman's history page, including old playlists and videos.