By: Emily Shanmugam
Although a street in the middle of small town Lamoni might appear to be the least likely location for a raging party, The Alley on Linden Street is regularly transformed into a hub for thriving nightlife, complete with music, food, and dancing. Choices, as it is called, is an alcohol-free club, typically open Saturday nights from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am.
To learn a bit more, I talked to Graceland Student Government officers Emma Gibson and Ben Long, who have both been to Choices in the past. When I asked them to elaborate on it, Emma said, “Choices is basically a non-alcoholic club, and it’s just a place where students can go and essentially get, I would say, more of a city college experience. It’s in a safe area so it’s not like you’re completely surrounded by strangers, and you know who’s going to be there if something does go wrong.”
As Ben put it, “Choices is an event that is put on regularly at The Alley or any other location on Friday or Saturday nights. There is music, snacks, and dancing, but there is no alcohol, or any illegal substances allowed, which encourages students to make good ‘choices’ on weekend nights as opposed to going out and potentially causing harm to themselves or getting in trouble with the law. That’s the intention of Choices.”
Choices was established in 1985 by a group of students and staff who wanted to give university students a safe and fun place to socialize on the weekends. It was originally hosted as a part of Alcohol Awareness Week, but students enjoyed it so much that it became a regular event. Today, it is overseen by the Student Activities Office, although various groups on campus can take the lead, including GSG, COSA, and other student organizations who occasionally do “takeovers” of Choices. It is also staffed by students. The events change each week, but previously, they have included dance club nights, theme parties, pool tournaments, competitive eating events, house pride nights, music decade themes, and more. For example, this October GSG organized a Halloween-themed Choices event that students attended in costume.
Choices has generated quite a bit of excitement because it’s been two years since there have been regular events. Thus, for the most part, only seniors are familiar with Choices. Emma explained, “It was a big thing my freshman year when I was here, and I’m a senior now. And I would go at least every other weekend. Whenever there was a big crowd, I’d go, and then whenever they would have events, because sometimes the Latinx would take over or the BSU would take over, so I’d go on those takeover nights.”
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have mostly been removed, Choices can once again be a part of the college experience here at Graceland. I asked Emma and Ben to share what they like about Choices, and Emma answered, “It’s something to do on a Saturday, rather than just sitting around, and it’s something you can go out and do with your friends.” Ben added, “It’s usually a really fantastic space and there’s always a really nice atmosphere where you can go and have fun. And it usually is a quite positive vibe for late night and enjoying the weekend.”