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Nonalcoholic dance draws UI drinkers

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | MARCH 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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A number of students attending an alcohol-free dance party March 25 had one thing in common: They were already drunk.

Some University of Iowa students told The Daily Iowan they drank before the event, which was dubbed “nonalcoholic,” while others said they attended Friday After Class at the bars and imbibed earlier in the day. At least one female was carried out of the event on a stretcher shortly before 1 a.m.

The party at hotelVetro, 201 S. Linn St., was the second 18-plus dance party hosted by the newly formed UI student organization, AACE Entertainment. The first dance party, held at Old Brick, 26 E. Market St., brought in more than 2,000 people; it was aimed at promoting a permanent under-21 dance club in Iowa City.

Despite the evident intoxication of some in attendance, students and city officials said nonalcoholic parties are still a better option than bars.

“We’re here for people to have a good time at night,” said University of Iowa freshman Corey Collins, a co-organizer of the event. “It doesn’t have to revolve around drinking, and one thing we are doing is dancing.”



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The second party garnered another 2,000 people and raised around $3,000 to fund the student-run group. The second-floor ballroom of the hotel teemed with students dancing under flashing colored lights. A DJ blasted hip-hop from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

UI freshman Taylor Havlik said he drank at the bars before going to hotelVetro but said he thinks students who don’t drink can enjoy dancing without being pressured.

“It’s a good opportunity for students who don’t drink to have a good time,” he said. “These are good events; these opportunities are building a better, safer environment.”

Iowa City City Councilor Regenia Bailey said it makes sense for the university to hold these events despite the fact that students drink beforehand.

“It probably presents problems that any place would, but overall, the objective is capitalizing a market out there for underage students who want to have fun,” she said.

According to the Iowa City police daily activity log, an ambulance was called for an intoxicated female in the second-floor bathroom at 12:46 a.m.

Though two UI police officers were present at the party, cofounder and UI sophomore Evan Ivory said he thinks it would have been safer had there been more.

“There were two cops for 2,000 people,” he said.

UI police officials could not be reached for comment.

UI Vice President for Student Services Tom Rocklin said it is important that the university provide ways for students to develop other entertainment options, but they still need to be safe.

“I think whenever we do events, we need to be careful to be sure that people who come to the events are being safe and not coming intoxicated,” he said.

Rocklin, who helped the students organize the two dance parties, said their goal has always been the same: to give fewer students drinking access on fewer occasions.

UI freshman Jay Berger said if this were to become a more permanent option for students under 21, rules should be more strict on who can attend.

“If people are falling over when they walk in, don’t let them in,” he said.


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