Digital Diaries Season 3 Episode 6: NU Students brace for takeoff with Dillo Day 2023

Madison Bratley, Data Visualization Editor



Northwestern students will land on Planet Dillo with Mayfest’s alien-themed Dillo Day 2023 on Saturday, May 20. On Season 3, Episode 6 of Digital Diaries, students share how they survived Dillo Day 2022 and their tips for people attending this year.

AARON KLOBNAK: If you go to Northwestern, you attend Dillo.

MADISON BRATLEY: Once a year, more than 12,000 attendees converge to laugh, dance and sing along to live performances at Dillo Day, the largest student-run music festival in the country. The wait is almost over.


MADISON BRATLEY: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Madison Bratley. This is Digital Diaries, a weekly podcast following the college experience and asking students questions about life at Northwestern. This year’s space-themed Dillo Day lands on Saturday, May 20. This week, Northwestern students share their experiences from previous Dillo Days and how they will navigate this year’s takeoff.


SOFIA SERNA: I went to Dillo last year for one, to be with my friends and for the experience, but also I actually liked a lot of the artists that they had.

MADISON BRATLEY: That was Weinberg sophomore Sofia Serna. Serna said one of her favorite artists in the 2022 Dillo Day lineup was Sean Kingston. Kingston is known for his hits like “Beautiful Girls” and “Fire Burning.”

SOFIA SERNA: It was absolutely packed. It was still bright out. And just kind of like the music that he makes — it’s very upbeat, fun. Everyone knows the words.

MADISON BRATLEY: Dillo Day 2022 began at 12:30 p.m. after a rain delay.
The nighttime headliner was Dominic Fike, who performed in the evening from around 9:15 to 10:15 p.m. That means the festival lasted about 10 hours total. But according to Serna –

SOFIA SERNA: You don’t have to be there the whole time. Right when it starts you don’t have to get there, unless you want to see the first few artists, because they put the best or most popular people towards the end. I feel like once we got to like the headliners, I was kind of over it and exhausted.

MADISON BRATLEY: Serna advises students to take care of themselves during the festival.

SOFIA SERNA: I would say go home and nap or just pick who you want to see because being there all day is kind of hard.


MADISON BRATLEY: For Weinberg sophomore Nancy Zhen, Dillo is more than just the concert experience.

NANCY ZHEN: I would really look forward to getting ready for Dillo, whether that’s having a meal with friends before Dillo or figuring out outfits to coordinate for Dillo. I feel like I would very much enjoy the prep before Dillo probably even more than Dillo itself.

MADISON BRATLEY: Zhen says students can take advantage of activities beyond attending the live performances.

NANCY ZHEN: Make fun out of Dillo, whether that is just getting free food or free snacks or free merch from the booths.

MADISON BRATLEY: Zhen says she knows students that find entertainment in styling themselves for the day.

NANCY ZHEN: I heard rumors that a lot of people would be dressing up as those, you know those Among Us characters. I thought that was really funny, just like a squad of people and like spacesuits or something.

MADISON BRATLEY: Above all, Zhen says students should prioritize themselves.

NANCY ZHEN: Have fun. Do what you’re most comfortable with. Don’t feel compelled to go to Dillo just because everybody else is doing it.


MADISON BRATLEY: This is Medill senior Helen Bradshaw’s second time attending an in-person Dillo after transferring to Northwestern her sophomore year.

HELEN BRADSHAW: It’s almost like if you lived next to a stadium or a concert venue and could just walk there for all the events you ever want to go to, except you don’t have to buy tickets.

MADISON BRATLEY: Dillo Day 2022 also had carnival activities like caricature drawing stations.

HELEN BRADSHAW: I kept going back and the caricature drawers definitely got really annoyed with me but it was so fun. We have them hanging all over our house.

MADISON BRATLEY: Bradshaw has another memento: a pair of Converse with mud from Dillo Day 2022.

HELEN BRADSHAW: I have not moved them since last year. They were brown Converse. So it blends in but I have not worn them since and they are really, really muddy.

MADISON BRATLEY: Bradshaw says she saw a lot of people waking up early on Dillo Day and partying at friends houses. But she didn’t participate as much herself.

HELEN BRADSHAW: My social battery gets depleted very easily.

MADISON BRATLEY: Bradshaw says she didn’t attend some of the later acts last year, like Dominic Fike’s, because she got tired. She recommends students make sure they conserve their energy.

HELEN BRADSHAW: If you overdo things, that’s it. You’re probably just going to be sitting at home which is fine. I really enjoyed going to bed very early. All my roommates went to bed at like 9:30 p.m.


MADISON BRATLEY: Aaron Klobnak is a Weinberg junior studying biology. But when he isn’t in the labs –

AARON KLOBNAK: I love partying. Full disclosure.

MADISON BRATLEY: Klobnak encourages students to make the most of their Dillo Day experience.

AARON KLOBNAK: Just try and be present in the moment. Because it is truly, like, to get all that stuff for free — it’s like a once-in-a-life — or I guess we get it four times. But you know, it’s a very rare occurrence.

MADISON BRATLEY: Klobnak says Dillo Day puts Northwestern life in perspective.

AARON KLOBNAK: It’s just a great day to reset and remember that there’s more to life than just, like, the Northwestern grind. Like, we’re here to live a great, fulfilling life. We’re not here to cry over homework every night.


MADISON BRATLEY: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Madison Bratley. Thanks for listening to another episode of Digital Diaries. This episode was reported and produced by me, Madison Bratley. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Mika Ellison, the digital managing editors are Ava Mandoli and Erica Schmitt, and the editor-in-chief is Alex Perry. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MadisonBratley

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