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Meet Dance Marathon Emcee: Brad McCandless!

With Dance Marathon 2016 right around the corner, check out the man on stage – emcee, Brad McCandless.

Name: Brad McCandless

Year: Senior

Major: Political Science

Hometown: Eastchester, New York


What made you want to apply for emcee?

When I walked into the tent for Dance Marathon my freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. So when I saw two people run out on stage, I was pretty captivated by the idea that this wasn’t just some amorphous blob of students sweating and jostling uncomfortably close together for 30 hours. There was direction, inspiration and leadership. I got close with Demetri (emcee 2013) over my first 30 hours and decided this was something I wanted to do some day. When I found someone who was such a good prospective partner, Sarah Thompson, I was so excited and knew it would be awesome to do it in my last Dance Marathon. I’ve also always cared a lot about DM, service and philanthropy, but I had never found a good way to epitomize my care. Emcee was the best and most effective way to implement my passion for service and philanthropy.


What are you most excited about for Dance Marathon?

For the past three years, I have sort of danced in front of the stage. Some might say that being in the crowd allows you to be with a big group of people, but when you’re dancing with your fraternity or student group, you’re actually dancing with a much smaller amount of people. When you’re dancing on stage, you actually get to be with a much bigger group of people. Sarah and I really want to be in the thick of it with everyone else in the tent. So I’m excited to share this experience with not just 50-100 people, but with 1,000 people this year.

I’m also excited for the costumes – some people think of some really hilarious costumes that are extremely entertaining. And of course I’m also excited to see Justin Barbin’s energy, the new editions to the tent, the 30-hour dance from Dance Relations Committee and making new friends.


What’s your favorite DM memory?

I have a few. My freshman year, they played “Fix You” when they made the final reveal, just as the big guitar riff comes in. It was super emotional and I didn’t know what to expect. People were happier in that moment than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Even though I didn’t really understand the implications, I was just as happy as everyone else. I had gotten the opportunity to do something so difficult and I got to step in the shoes and experience for a glimpse of 30 hours the causes that each organization works to combat. Because I had put myself in that situation and gone through Dance Marathon, I got to identify with the people I was actually helping.


Do you have any advice for people entering the tent for the first time?

Oh man, yea. One thing I will say is it’s not easy. There are very few people who go through dance marathon with ease and not hit a low. You are going to be tired and you are probably going to be miserable and not want to go through it at some points. But the euphoria and the sense of gratification, the bonding of the people in the tent far outmatches the exhaustion and the sweat that plagues you in blocks 4-6. No one does DM because it’s easy. We do DM because it helps people. It is a fun way to challenge ourselves and a unique way to unite Northwestern’s campus. If it were easy, nobody would do it.

Also – make a fool of yourself. You’re there for 30 hours, bust a move. If you think you have something to show off, why not go for it. Nobody’s going to remember it 10 hours later. So if you want to talk to someone or want hang out with people, just do it. Use this as an opportunity to meet new people and bond. Some of my best friends to this day are my best friends because I spent so much time with them in the tent my freshman and sophomore year. Take your cool hat off when you enter – it’s a space where everyone is equal and you can have a lot of fun doing that. Also, bring lots of underwear and bring lots of socks.


What else are you involved in on campus?

I’ve been involved with my fraternity, Phi Psi and I was on the Interfraternity Council executive board for two years. I have also volunteered with Northwestern to Benefit Special Olympics since my freshman year. I am also on the Senior Year Experience committee.


How do you plan on keeping your energy up for 30 hours straight?

This goes all the way back to my freshman and sophomore year as a dancer. Both emcees came up to me at some point during DM and said ‘you’re doing great, I’m feeding off your energy’. So I’m looking forward to finding the dancers in the tent that I, and everyone else, can feed off of. The way I plan on keeping my energy up is thriving and having fun with all the other dancers.

There’s also a reason Sarah and I did it together – we feed off each other immensely. We make each other more energetic, more optimistic and have more fun together. Neither of us would be able to do this alone, so we are going to help each other out a lot. So as another piece of advice, find someone in the tent that you can stick with the entire time. Find a buddy so that if you’re ever feeling down, they can pick you back up and vice versa. Neither of you will ever forget that and it will stick with you far beyond these 30 hours.

Brad and partner-in-emcee-crime, Sarah Thompson.

How would you describe your personality?

I would say sarcastic in a lot of ways. I’m very energetic and simultaneously driven. I would also say loyal and committed to the things and people that are important to me.


How do you think this will help you in the tent?

Well, I think that you want someone on stage that is optimistic and has a positive outlook on DM and the 30 hours, which are difficult for a lot of people. You want someone who is going to make those 30 hours more manageable and easier. I think my personality type, such as my drive and ability to identify with a lot of people, will help feed a welcoming environment for a lot of new dancers and provide a stable home for those returning to the tent.


What’s your go-to dance move?

I really like the cat daddy. It’s a great move. I’ll probably bust that out numerous times.

I asked him for a video and he said you’ll have to wait and see.


Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Don’t remember your most tired moment of Dance Marathon. Don’t focus on how difficult it’s going to be or how much your feet are going to hurt or how badly you’re going to want to shower. Think about the smile on the kids’ faces when you are the sole reason they’re going to get to eat this weekend. Think about all the amazing songs you’re going to dance and listen to with your best friends and a thousand other Northwestern students. Don’t remember your worst block five moment, remember the excitement of block one and the euphoria and accomplishment of block ten, because those are the moments that matter.

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Lina Hebert


Lina Hebert is a rising junior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  She is currently majoring in pyschology with the intention of going into marketing.  Through Her Campus and other organizations, she has gained valuable experience with writing, social media and event planning.  However, Lina's interests are not only limited to psychology and marketing; she was the fourth spoon from the left in Beauty and the Beast at age ten.  She is an inspired and devoted student, learner, blogger and nutella enthusiast.
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