Students try for alcohol-free dance club


Brenna Norman/The Daily Iowan
(From left to right) UI students Evan Ivory, Alex Bruzzini, Anthony Giannelli, and Corey Collins stand in Old Brick on Sunday. Collins and Ivory started a Facebook group to promote an alcohol-free dance party on Jan. 28 in Old Brick.

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After the 21-ordinance was upheld last November, underage University of Iowa students Corey Collins and Evan Ivory weren’t ready to give up Iowa City’s downtown scene completely.

Collins, a freshman, remembered nonalcoholic dance clubs he went to in high school and decided he wanted to bring that option to underage students in Iowa City. And with Ivory’s help, Collins organized the event Party at the Old Brick — an 18-and-older, nonalcoholic dance party.

“The first day we petitioned downtown, 1,000 people joined our Facebook page, and that got me really inspired,” Collins said.

He pitched the idea to Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Services, before winter break. Rocklin said he immediately liked the idea and helped the students get it off the ground.

Though Rocklin said he was surprised students were interested in a nonalcoholic dance club, he thinks the idea has a good chance of taking off.

“The most likely times these events work are when students put them together,” Rocklin said.

Ivory said their hope is to prove a nonalcoholic establishment will work downtown and ultimately have a local business owner open one permanently.

As of Sunday, more than 1,600 people had marked themselves as planning to attendon its Facebook page.

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But UI sophomore Ellen Havey said though she thinks people may be interested initially, a nonalcoholic club won’t help the binge drinking problem.

“In the end, it’s not going to help the issue at hand because [underage] students are going to show up drunk anyways and do whatever they are going to do at a house party beforehand and then go there,” she said.

Despite some students’ misgivings about the Jan. 28 event, Collins and Ivory have secured university funding and a sponsorship from Coca-Cola for the party at the Old Brick, 26 E. Market St.

Coca-Cola donated $1,000, and the Campus Activity Board and Late Night at Iowa will cover any remaining costs such as lighting and sound, Collins said.

Leah Cohen, owner of Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St., also said she likes the idea of providing an alcohol-free dance club option for students.

Though she said she’s skeptical of the idea because she’s never seen a successful late-night, nonalcoholic business model, she said the corporate sponsorship was the best option.

“I think it would be difficult,” Cohen said. “But I applaud them in trying. Everything right now is a test run that is nonalcoholic.”

And the change could also benefit local DJs, some said. Tom Lenoch, also known as DJ Breakfast, said two of the three venues he had DJ’d at are now closed — One-Eyed Jake’s and Vito’s. The former Jake’s manager called the idea “interesting.”

“There are no venues open or available anymore,” Lenoch said. “I’d definitely be interested in DJ-ing at a nonalcoholic dance club.”

Iowa City City Councilor Connie Champion said the nonalcoholic dance party idea is perfectly legal and said she gives the students credit for trying something new.

“It will take a while to be successful, but students who come here will be looking for new social events to go to,” she said.

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