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Bacchanalia returns after four years

Camille Kao / Thresher

By Marie Valera     4/12/23 12:15am

Brown College hosted its first Bacchanalia public since the spring of 2019 last Saturday, and the first for all students who have matriculated since 2019. Bacchanalia was first canceled in April 2020, and again in 2021, due to COVID-19. Bacchanalia was set to have its comeback in 2022, but was canceled due to a rise in COVID-19 cases after Beer Bike. 

Bacchanalia was the first public that used a seniors-only ticketing system. According to Gray Freeman, a senior from Brown and social committee head, Brown provided a seniors-only ticket link because seniors have never experienced a Bacchanalia before. 

“Seniors deserve the opportunity to enjoy this part of Rice culture before they graduate,” Freeman wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We knew that this was the only chance seniors would ever have to experience Bacchanalia, something that historically has been an important tradition at Rice, and we wanted to respect that.” 

According to Freeman, 200 out of 900 tickets for the public were allocated to seniors. Half of those selected from the waitlist were seniors, and Freeman estimates that some 35% of all attendees at the public were from the senior class. 

Adam Zawierucha, a senior at Brown, said that the seniors-only ticket link was a logical decision, especially for Brown seniors. 

“No senior [at Brown] has ever experienced a Brown Bacchanalia,” Zawierucha said. “It made sense given that fact.” 

Rajpal Bal, a senior at McMurtry College, said while he believes the seniors-only ticket link worked well for Bacchanalia, it shouldn’t be applied to future publics’ ticketing systems. 

“I think [the seniors-only ticket link] made sense, especially for the Brown seniors. This was their first and last ever public at their home college. I think for future publics, the link should be released at one time [because they’re] public part[ies],” Bal said. 

According to Freeman, when coordinating Bacchanalia, Brown wanted to preserve the public’s pre-COVID traditions. 

“We used all the resources we could find from pre-COVID [social committee heads] to try and bring back the things that were traditional,” Freeman wrote in an email to the Thresher. “The senior tickets were probably the largest difference, and we also put together a wine garden that had some differences from previous years, which we thought all of the seniors would enjoy.” 

Lucian Bennett-Brandt, a senior at Brown and second social committee head, said that the social planning committee wanted this year’s Bacchanalia to improve upon previous years. 

“We tried so hard to make [Bacchanalia] into something that is a legacy for Brown,” Bennett-Brandt wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We knew that since no one on campus had ever experienced Bacchanalia before, we didn’t have to make it good. We had to make it great.”

Linda Wu, a senior from Baker College, said she had a positive experience at Bacchanalia.

“I loved how the public’s theme was maintained throughout the whole experience, from the ticketing to the actual event,” Wu wrote in an email to the Thresher. “Bacchanalia was really sweaty and sticky, but fun!” 

Kelton Keck, a sophomore at Sid Richardson College, said that while Bacchanalia was fun, it did not seem as well-attended as other publics this year. 

“I think people might be burnt out because it’s the end of the year,” Keck said. “It seemed like there were less people there than other publics. I don’t mean that the quality of it was worse. I think it was just as good [as other publics] if not better, because it wasn’t extremely packed.” 

Freeman said that despite Bacchanalia being canceled in 2022 because of the post-Beer Bike COVID outbreak, the planning process was extremely rewarding. 

“Transforming [Brown Commons] was super fun, and we were able to execute so many ideas,” Freeman said. “Planning was incredibly stressful at times and we are so happy that we were able to put something together that everyone enjoyed.” 

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