Dionysium: Stimulate the Senses Through Debate, Theatre and Music

Dionysium Austin Toast

Dionysium hosts L.B. Deyo and Buzz Moran offer a toast to Dionysus

This guest blog post is by Leah Kaminsky.

When I decided to move to Austin, I knew I was headed to a music town. But little did I know that my new home city would also be home to the coolest debate event this side of the Rio Grande: Dionysium, a monthly verbal smackdown that features a motley crew of experts culled from a diversity of subject areas.

To understand how the words “coolest” and “debate” could possible keep each other company, you’ve got to leave the stereotypes at the door. This is not two tweeded professors jabbing each other with jargon. Nor is it two political candidates with a long list of talking points and a penchant for parallel conversations.

This is a deep engagement with fascinating issues, with a little theater and music mixed in for spice…if by spice we’re talking Indian food with diverse flavors baked into every bite, and not a wintertime latte from Starbucks where cinnamon is purely a topical addition.

Background on Dionysium

The name and concept for the event are modeled after yearly festivals from the time of Classical Athens, called Dionysia, that featured tragedies and comedies in which both politicians and dramatists strove to top one other. All with a good glass of wine in hand, of course.

Dionysium AustinThe Austin event, which has the awesomely nerdtastic tagline, “Get your think on,” focuses on a different theme every month. The chosen themes play just as big of a role in keeping the events interesting as the debaters themselves. The fare is varied, and will be featuring such topics in coming months as:

  • December 5, 2012: Beer
  • January 2, 2013: Science
  • February 6, 2013: The Brain Candy Collective (a merging of two other fantastic Austin event, the Encyclopedia Show and Nerd Nite)
  • April 3, 2013: Ethics

What You’ll Find When You Go

Bavu Blakes debates at Dionysium Austin

Guest Bavu Blakes debates during Dionysium

The structure of events varies, but generally the night will begin with several lectures by subject matter experts focusing on different key topics within the theme, followed by the debate. This month, the debaters will be Alamo Drafthouse CEO, Tim League, and Bill Norris, the Alamo Beverage Director.

And in between the verbal fireworks? Oh, you know, only music by the supremely talented Graham Reynolds, whose work bubbles up just about everywhere, from movie screens to the stage. It’s hard to capture just how much energy Reynolds brings to the event. But trust me, it’s a sizable chunk. Imagine plunging head first into this “orgy of lecture and debate” – their (very accurate) words, not mine – only to emerge for a breath of air and find it’s been replaced with the lilting of a supremely played piano. That will give you some sense of how these various elements combine.

There’s food to be eaten, of course, and you’ll likely find new friends as you debate the matters amongst yourselves during intermission.

The Logistics

So, what am I saying here? You’ve got to check out this unique event, specifically on and at:

December 5th, 2012 at 7PM

The Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

If you need anymore convincing that this event is worth the price of admission, take a look at Dionysium’s logo. That’s right, it’s the periodic table symbol for the rare earth metal, Dysprosium. Now if that doesn’t float your little nerd boat, I don’t know what will. See you there!

Leah Kaminsky is a writer and small business owner who helps big corporations, small companies, and individuals tell stories that establish their expertise, get them into college or graduate school, and just generally look cool. She is currently at work on the second draft of a young adult novel.


Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of artisterin and Crunchy Food.


We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter 2 times a month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and where we give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!