Orgo Night! A Columbia University Marching Band Tradition

Orgo Night! One of the longest lasting traditions kept by the band.

Late in the Spring and Fall semesters the Columbia University Marching Band puts on a show to help its most beleaguered and desperate classmates. The night before each semester’s Organic Chemistry final (at 11:59pm) the band storms into the main reading room at Butler Library and tries to ease the tension of students cramming for the final of one of Columbia’s most difficult classes. In this clip, taken from the Spring 2009 semester Orgo Night, the band enters, playing the alma matter. If you listen closely you can hear the alma matter being sung!

While presumably at the library to help calm the organic chemistry students, the event has turned into a spectacle itself, with 100’s of students packing the library – standing on tables and book shelves – to watch the band perform.

This Fall’s Orgo night marked the 50th time the Columbia University Marching Band has carried out the tradition. As with almost all the band’s performances it is a mix of music and humor, with scripted jokes and interludes of music. Orgo Nights last for over an hour, and end with the band exiting the library, playing the alma mater, just as they entered. While somewhat lewd, the event is a tradition that sets Columbia University and its clever band apart from other schools. And it leaves the crowd jazzed up and enthusiastic, singing the university’s alma mater as the bad exits. Whether or not it improves the minds of the students taking the organic chemistry test only hours later is up for debate.

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