The DJ in Sama Dining

Walking into the dining hall in Sama Tower is always an auditory adventure for the students of NYU Abu Dhabi. While enjoying their daily fare, members ...

Walking into the dining hall in Sama Tower is always an auditory adventure for the students of NYU Abu Dhabi.
While enjoying their daily fare, members of NYUAD’s community can never be sure what songs they will be treated to, with selections ranging from Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” to PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” Sometimes, the mysterious playlist will go retro for a whole day and students are treated to the likes of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” or “The Time of My Life” from the musical “Grease.” Other times, it’s all pop from breakfast to dinner, with Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj and Usher ruling the speakers.
Recently though, students have become more and more curious about the music they experience in the Dining Hall, wondering who, exactly, is the invisible dining hall DJ choosing these songs.
“It’s actually open to everyone. Most of the time the catering staff bring in CDs with their own playlists. They burn the CDs on their own and then they play it on the system,” says Mary Nduta, one of the catering employees at the Sama Dining Hall.
When asked whether students can bring in their own CDs, or have in the past, she said, “Sure, in fact, during the special theme nights that we’ve had, we have asked students to bring in songs from their culture and country, and they have.”
However, in an era when CDs are on their way out, it’s not surprising to see that there haven’t been many submissions for the daily playlist. As such, the songs that members of the community hear while enjoying their meals are usually selected by the catering staff.
“Eva tends to bring in new mixes on a regular basis, and so does Ella, but she’s now on duty in DTC,” said Nduta about regular contributors.
On the student side, senior Florencia Schlamp had a funny story to share about the Sama Dining Hall and its music.
“Black Eyed Peas’ remix 'The Time (Dirty Bit)’ was pretty much the theme song to my breakfast before Foundations of Science during freshman year,” Schlamp said. “Every time I hear it, I can taste the cereal with honey and yogurt from the dining hall.”
“Pavlov would have been proud,” Schlamp added.
Senior Brett Bolton believes that the dining hall music is something one cannot fully appreciate until they have been away for some time.
“I honestly miss hearing it and get homesick every time I eat in a cafeteria,” he said in a post on the NYUAD Student Life Facebook page.
Interestingly, some NYUAD students seem to find the music generally agreeable, and some had to think a while to recall the music they had heard in the dining hall. Perhaps, like any other regular feature, it just becomes part of a background picture that we cease to pay attention to.
“I guess I don’t feel as strongly about the music as I’ve seen some people do on Facebook,” said freshman Xinyi Wei. “I feel that the music in the dining hall is actually more for the benefit of the catering staff, as they spend a lot more time there than we do. As such, we should respect their music taste.”
Yet, among the background noise, there are some rare gems, as sophomore Krishan Mistry can attest to.
“Once I showed [up] at the dining hall and they were playing Shania Twain. When the song ended, another Shania Twain came on. At first I thought it was a quirk in the playlist shuffle function, but it slowly dawned that they were playing Shania Twain’s ‘Come on Over’ [album] song by song,” he said.
“This was the dining hall at its best,” added Mistry.
Asyrique Asyraf Thevendran is deputy features editor. Email him at
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