Arts & Culture

Fall down the rabbit hole at Wonderland-themed Gala

Brown Class Board hosts popular annual dance, sells all 1,600 tickets to formal event in five days

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 17, 2016

Motifs of Lewis Carroll’s famous Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum will evoke childhood memories of the Disney film adaptation for students who attend the Alice in Wonderland-themed annual Gala Saturday night.

Hosted by the Brown University Class Board, Gala will take place — as it has for approximately the last five years — at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, a popular venue located on the “north bank of the Pawtuxet River” in Cranston, according to the company’s website. It is favored by both Class Board and the student body for its large dance floor, lounge area and cash bar for students of drinking age, said Secretary of the Sophomore Board and Co-Chair of Gala Dana Le ’18.

The event annually draws hundreds of students  and has been successful because of its longstanding place as one of the most memorable events hosted by Class Board. “It’s a tradition,” said Joie Steele, assistant director for student activities and the Campus Center. “It’s a great time for students in the spring semester when everything is busy to come together and have a social experience.”

Some students see at least one Gala attendance as almost essential to fulfilling an authentic Brown experience. “It has a reputation,” said Orlando Rodriguez ’17, class board president of the junior class and Le’s fellow Gala co-chair. “As the only campus-wide formal, it has a prom vibe. … You go to Gala to check it off of your Brown bucket list.”

Within the same vein as “prom,” many students also view Gala, perhaps the most formal campus-wide social event of the year, as an opportunity to don their finest attire, especially for those not necessarily involved in another organization that hosts similar social events, Le said. “It’s a great opportunity for people who don’t go to formals through Greek life to wear a suit or a nice dress. People think it’s really fun to dress up.”

The event’s popularity with the student body has consistently been evinced throughout the years by overwhelming ticket sales. Like many other years in the past, Class Board sold out all 1,600 tickets available over five days, Le said. Class Board has even been forced to raise the number of tickets sold to accommodate increasing interest in the event, starting at 1,000 and increasing to the current 1,600, Steele said.

The Wonderland-themed Gala was agreed upon by the entire Class Board after  co-chairs Rodriguez, Le and Ally Lawton ’18 suggested the idea. The event will incorporate decorations associated with Lewis Carroll’s novel, and the film itself will be projected in black and white, Rodriguez said. “The theme ‘Wonderland’ has intrigue. It allows for flexibility in terms of decorations. You can really be vibrant, colorful, quirky and crazy, which is what I like.”

The night will include a photo booth, two student photographers circulating the party and a fun surprise at midnight, he added.

In hosting formal dances like Gala and other events including A Night On College Hill, Spring Weekend’s Breakfast at Midnight, Sophomore Slump Month and Senior Week, Class Board attempts to enhance the sense of both class-wide and university-wide community at Brown, Rodriguez said. “The whole mission of Class Board is to build community and spaces for students to interact,” Rodriguez added. “Through a speaker, food, dancing … we want to have events people can experience and talk about 20 years from now.”

The formal is a great opportunity to share a night with friends across graduation years as “it’s not a date-oriented thing, which is great,” Rodriguez said. “It should be a friendly thing, where you eat some risotto and dance a little, you know?”