By Alyson Kay
The National Hillel Basketball Tournament kicked off on Thursday with a “Ballin Out” bar night at the Dirty Martini bar in D.C. to celebrate the start of the tournament.
The event started at 9:30 p.m with most people arriving at 10:30. Approximately 200 people attended the event from different colleges in North America.
The bar night was the only party event scheduled for the weekend. The rest of the tournament will be basketball games and Shabbat events.
The energy of the event was high, with many people crowding the small dance floor in front of the bar. A DJ in the back of the bar played music while multi-colored lights flashed from above.
“I enjoyed it very much,” said Ben Huisman, the general board coordinator of NHBT. “There was a lot of good spirit coming – positive vibes. It was good energy. People enjoyed it.”
There was plenty of entertainment for the guests too, including a professional dancer who danced with twirling lighted hula hoops, flaming hoops and an electric sander that shot off sparks.
Huisman said one of his favorite things about the night was how it brought Jewish people from all over the continent together.
“When you’re walking around, you talk to Jews from California, Jews that go to Connecticut,” said Huisman, a junior public relations major. “People that go to Duke, UNC. What it shows is that it doesn’t matter where you’re going for university. Everyone came to this event together and unified.”
The bar served drinks but not food throughout the night. People had to be over 18 to attend and over 21 to drink. Brandon V., one of the security officers at the bar, said the event went smoothly.
“No problems – only a few people trying to sneak in underage,” said Brandon.
The event did not just have attendees from the U.S.
“It was a great turnout. We had students coming from all over the United States. We even have people from Canada here,” Brandon said.
David Adler, a 2015 UMD alumnus, enjoyed meeting people at the event.
“It was a good time,” said Adler. “It was good to see everyone and meet a lot of new people.”
Cobi Citron, a sophomore from this university, said he enjoyed the event.
“It was the best time,” Citron said. “My roommate set it all up. I think that he did a great job. I had the best time.”
Citron especially enjoyed partying with his friends and meeting new people.
“My favorite thing was being with all of the Jews here, being with all of my friends, meeting new people here,” said Citron. “I had the best time. It was really really fun.”