Ask Abe: A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

Jeffrey G. ’74

When did “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” become part of the UW Marching Band’s repertoire at sporting events, and what was the inspiration for the band adopting it?

Abe

This song has been part of the UW’s football tradition for more than a century. Written in 1896 by Theodore August Metz and Joe Hayden, it was a well-established tradition on the UW campus and is mentioned in yearbooks as early as 1902. According to the UW Marching Band, “Hot Time” was something of an unofficial fight song for the UW before “On, Wisconsin!” was written in 1909, so the band played it after the football Badgers scored a touchdown. With its rousing, ragtime beat, it was a popular tune across the United States in the 1890s, and several universities (including the University of Michigan) adopted it. Badger Phillip Allen 1899 gave it a unique arrangement, and the UW has kept it on its playlist ever since.