Matthew Kowalski ’12 stood outside of Alumnae Hall on Saturday wearing black bike shorts and a white T-shirt with “NORI WAS HERE” written on it in black marker.
Nori is Noricia Aquino ’12, Kowalski’s girlfriend. Aquino was already inside Alumnae Hall getting ready to work as a party manager for Sex Power God, Queer Alliance’s annual fundraising dance. Kowalski and his friends were the first of almost 600 students to line up for Saturday’s dance.
“She’s wearing completely body paint, so if any comes off, it’s coming off here,” Kowalski said, pointing to his shirt.
Event coordinators called Sex Power God a success, citing poor weather as the event’s only difficulty. “It went off without any hitches,” coordinator Zach Marcus ’10 said.
A total of nine students were transported by Emergency Medical Services Saturday night because of intoxication, said Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn. Three of those – two Brown students and one non-Brown student – were transported directly from the event.
Sex Power God sparked controversy in 2005, when conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly sent a producer to the dance with a camera and aired the footage on his Fox News program. That year, 24 students required EMS attention. The next year, coordinators tightened security and moved the dance from Sayles Hall to the more secure Alumnae Hall. Across campus, 14 students required EMS attention on the night of the event that year. In 2007, five did.
Marcus said that event coordinators have reduced the amount of security each year since 2006. QA has reduced the number of private security guards from Green Horn Management as well as the number of Department of Public Safety officers at the event. “As the dance becomes more manageable,” he said, “it needs less oversight.”
Other changes to this year’s event included a shift toward playing techno and house music instead of the hip-hop that he said was more typical of parties at Brown. The music included the original compositions of Jonathan Gordon ’11, who won a competition sponsored by the QA’s Dance Committee.
The committee also used theater gels to light University Hall and Sayles Hall in rainbow colors, which Marcus said “highlights Sex Power God’s grounded presence on campus.” Seeing University Hall lit up as a rainbow, he said, “was very meaningful to me.”
Students standing in line outside Alumnae Hall gave various reasons for attending the dance.
Jonathon Acosta ’11 said he enjoyed his experience at last year’s Sex Power God and was excited to go again. Acosta stood in line with his friend Mike Gray ’11, who did not attend last year and wanted to experience the event firsthand.
Aristides Nakos ’12 was also attracted by the event’s reputation. Nakos, who is from Greece, said he missed that country’s party scene and hoped that the event would “approximate it in some way.”
Meg Wright, a sophomore at the University of Vermont, came to Providence for a friend’s birthday and said it was an “amazing coincidence” that Sex Power God happened to fall on the same weekend. “I’m beyond excited,” she said. “There’s nothing this crazy at UVM.”
Eli Scheer ’12 said his expectations for the event were simple: “Dance my ass off,” he said.
Event coordinator Aida Manduley ’11 said the organizers resisted the dance having a “reputation” or “agenda.” Instead, she said, Sex Power God gave students a chance to explore boundaries and dress in a way that would be less accepted in other venues.
“If you’re going to dance, if you’re going to hook up with someone, if you’re just going to play with glowsticks … we provide the music and the safe space.”