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Friday, December 01, 2023 — Houston, TX

Clinking glasses, not heads: Speakeasy Pub's winning formula

By Will Nunnery     11/14/23 10:49pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

As Rice has been struggling for the past few weeks with our culture around alcohol and public gatherings, Speakeasy Pub last Thursday night has shown us that a safe, responsible and fun drinking environment is still very possible.

Sure, the 21+ age limit hurts inclusion, and I feel for those who wanted to attend but couldn’t, but it did work to create a much safer crowd with easy movement around the room; even the officers from Rice University Police Department working that night were visibly more at ease with the event. The event saw no medical calls or excessive mess, and as I walked around and said, “Hi” to everyone I knew, it seemed to be one of the most thoroughly enjoyed Pub nights for many in recent years. 

Much to the credit of the musicians and Pub staff, our little bar in a basement was finally transformed into something that made so much sense for it to be. There is something to be said about the classy yet casual atmosphere that comes with a proper speakeasy, as it made even me, an ordinarily staunchly anti-alcohol person, extremely comfortable approaching the bar and trying something new. Meeting new people and catching up with friends was easier, and if you just wanted to sit down and listen to music, you were more than welcome to do so.

I feel for those who will miss publics and those who enjoy the loud, mosh-style parties that Pub often has, but Speakeasy Pub has brought Rice a new possibility to expand our diversity of social environments and increase the quality of student life. Such an environment also lends itself to a controlled, low-liability event whose shutdown the Rice administration would have a harder time justifying. 

The last piece of this puzzle is profitability for Pub itself, which I imagine is more of a final determinant to see if we see Speakeasy Pub continue. Still, I hope that in some way, everyone who enjoyed their night and would like to see a similar shift in culture will continue to show their support to Pub or any other campus organization that can make it happen. 

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