The Rise of the Sober Social Scene

friends hanging out having coffee

Movies from the 80s and 90s depicted a lot of good times associated with copious amounts of alcohol and drunkenness. Bars and pubs seemed to be the only places people ever went to have a good time. Now with coffee houses and juice bars making more appearances, gathering places without alcohol seem to be more acceptable.

There are more people doing yoga, meditation, exercising and taking care of their bodies; it just doesn’t make sense to go hang out at a bar with a drink after aligning your chakras. As a result, many millennials are creating social environments where hanging out sober is not the exception but the norm.

Not an Alcoholic, Just Sober Curious

There is a common misconception that if you don’t drink alcohol, you must be a recovering alcoholic. Many have accepted this notion in social situations; however, nothing could be further from the truth.

Many people, for one reason or another, have chosen not to drink. For some, they may have had parents or siblings who abused alcohol. For others, it may be a lifestyle choice or a choice based on religion or faith. And for those who are riding on a healthy lifestyle path, they may have chosen not to drink because they realize that it can hinder clarity of mind and manifestation of desires. Finally, many millennials are awakening to the fact that they can have fun sober—and even finding themselves having more fun sober than when inebriated.

Socializing Without Alcohol?

As a general rule, it can be difficult to find social environments where alcohol is not present. For a while even Starbucks tried to include beer and wine on the menu, but soon realized that coffee goers weren’t too keen on mixing the coffee house experience with the bar scene. Most private home parties still seem to revolve around alcohol consumption. Sporting events, theatre productions, and even movie theatres all include alcohol service. If you are genuinely looking, it’s difficult to go to a location where alcohol isn’t present.

Then the question arises, “Can I still have fun sober while in an environment where alcohol is served?” The answer I’ve found in my own experience is, “Yes.” But the truthful answer extends to a more complicated, “Yes, but…”

Choosing to be sober among others is more of a social culture choice rather than a simple lifestyle choice. If you’ve stayed sober at a bar, private party, or social event, you know what I mean. When you choose not to drink at a bar, you’re in another mental dimension in comparison to all the other people who are off in another mindset with alcohol in their bodies. Sober at a private party means you have to answer some probing questions and expose yourself to a fair amount of peer pressure. You may have even felt the pressure to drink at a work function or in an effort to “close the deal.”

For example, a few years back at a friend’s house I was offered wine or a shot of liquor by my friend’s roommate, and when I refused, she said to me, “You’re so boring. Why won’t you drink?” And this is a woman in her 40s.

As a result, socializing sober comes down to learning how to enjoy yourself in settings with alcohol and peer pressure (which can be difficult) or creating a social group of like-minded individuals who are cool with not drinking. Many of those people may indeed be recovering alcoholics or drug addicts. In my experience, social groups, with those in recovery, tend to be extremely welcoming, even if you don’t have a drinking problem.

Whatever your choice for socializing sober, there are many different avenues to finding your sober social group.

Creating Environments Where Alcohol Is Not Present

Meetup is a great place to start your search for groups that organize activities around being sober. Go to www.meetup.com and you can find a sober Meetup group in nearly every state and major city around the U.S. And if there isn’t one in your area, consider starting one of your own.

Many bigger cities have sober venues, such as the following:

  • Club Söda, in New York City (NYC), is a social movement for those who choose not to drink. Club Söda has Meetups, discussions, and meditations revolving around being social without drinking.
  • The Shine, located in New York City and Los Angeles, is a movement that includes alcohol-free events featuring local bands, inspiring short films, group meditation, grassroots philanthropy, food, and storytelling.
  • Conscious Family Dinner is another monthly alcohol-free event, organized once a month in Los Angeles and New York City. While enjoying food, you can also enjoy what Conscious Family Dinner calls Playshops with themes like Laughter Meditation and Collective Breathwork.
  • Bender includes similar events mixing movement, music, and connection to others through yoga and sound bath meditations.
  • Sober raves like Daybreaker and London-based Morning Gloryville are becoming more popular. Daybreaker events start at 6 a.m. with a yoga class and two hours of non-stop crazy freestyle dance in 16 cities around the world. For the month of May 2017, Daybreaker has events in Austin, New York, Boulder, Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, Miami, Boston, and Denver.
  • In Brooklyn, The Softer Image offers a nighttime sober dance party.

The popularity of these great sober events can perhaps inspire you to either attend or create one in your own hometown.

Connecting to Who You Are

While you may not be used to socializing without a drink in your hand, you’ll soon find that sober socializing may help you to have a more authentic experience. You’ll get in touch with your own healing chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin. And you will feel even more fabulous connecting with others and yourself from a natural high.


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