Local production company Lucid Nightlife will host its fourth biannual Back To School Bash on Thursday at Simon’s Nightclub with headliner MarSHen and supporting acts YUNG ADAM, KYRO and Acraze set to perform.

Instead of focusing on the headliners this time around, however, the production company chose to emphasize the party by presenting the event with Orlando event planning company Pizza & Champagne.

Matt Collins, CEO and founder of Lucid Nightlife, said the aim of Thursday’s event is to create a house party atmosphere in a nightclub setting.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask when the Back to School Bash is, not even asking who’s playing it but when is it,” Collins said. “We just want to make a crazy kickoff party to set the bar for the semester.”

To drive this idea home, Collins teamed up with former business partner and friend Eric Arroyo in Orlando to bring the Pizza & Champagne event to Gainesville.

Arroyo created Pizza & Champagne, a weekly party at Tier Nightclub, in May 2017 with the same idea of emphasizing the party over the headliners. He did this after hosting several successful pop-up parties in Los Angeles where people came for the event rather than the artists performing.

“I wanted to bring that concept over to FL because I felt like the scene over here was getting too about who the DJs were,” Arroyo said. “Everyone was forgetting about the times that we’d just go out with our friends and enjoy a fun party.”

With dirt cheap ticket and drink prices and, of course, free pizza and champagne, Arroyo said he’s seen the event grow over the past eight months. Plus, the performers enjoy the idea just as much as the attendees.

“[The performers] like it too because, at the end of the day, they’re always going to play for a fun crowd,” Arroyo said. “By doing it this way, where it’s just about the party and less about the artist, people who are going are going to have fun and are going to have the same amount of energy no matter the DJ.”

The Pizza & Champagne event has expanded to Jacksonville and San Diego so far, with Gainesville being its third stop outside of Orlando. In addition to helping the event grow into a touring party, Arroyo said that Gainesville hits close to home because he used to throw Thursday night parties at Simon’s years ago with Collins.

“I’m very excited about this one in particular because I’m going back to my roots,” Arroyo said. “I’m going to bring it extra hard for this one because Gainesville did take a chunk of my heart back in the day throwing those parties.”

The 18 and up Back To School Bash will be Thursday Jan. 11 at Simon’s from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Early bird pre-sales have sold out, with general admission and VIP tickets remaining at eventbrite.com for $7 to $10. Walk-up tickets will be available the night of the show for $10.

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