This post was originally published on February 12, 2015.
These days, you aren’t considered completely uncool if you walk up to the bar and order a non-alcoholic drink. We can possibly thank the burgeoning field of mixology (which some say is just a fancy term for “bartender” but we won’t get into that contention) and their increasingly creative mocktails for taking a bit of the edge off the sober stigma that often persists among the partying crowd.
And in New York, where even the most successful folks party until 4 am, the sober scene is gaining some serious traction.
Not Just For Alcoholics
Here’s something that tends to surprise alcoholics and addicts when they get sober: there are plenty of folks who don’t drink because they just don’t want to and not because they’re problem drinkers or alcoholics.
“If there’s music going on, I’m dancing somewhere,” says Jenn Aédo, a 20-something professional singer and dancer who lives on the Upper West Side. Aédo doesn’t touch booze because she simply doesn’t like the taste and doesn’t want embarrass herself out in public.
Whether you’re a former gutter drunk or just a teetotaler who doesn’t like the taste of whiskey, non-drinkers in New York now have a whole crew of like-minded people to go out and play with.
Sober Solidarity or Sober Squares?
Clean Fun Network, a social media group founded by 45-year-old Jimmy Hamm, is launching next week. The network is sort of a mash-up of Facebook, OkCupid and Expedia for the non-drinkers of New York. They offer things like yoga classes, dinners out on the town, ski trips and even hefty excursions like flying to Nicaragua for a week-long surfing and volcano-hiking adventure.
But these activities seem sort of churchy and something more up the alley of the 55+ crowd at Club Med. Are sober 22-year-olds really going to be fired up to go to a stuffy dinner in New York or hit a yoga class with middle-aged moms? Can’t they make their outings a bit more, well…dangerous?
What about a lingerie party where attendees suck mocktail shots out of pierced belly buttons? How about a sober Burning Man (maybe they can call it Burning Woman?) where the teetotalers camp out in the desert and breathe fire while clad in S&M garb?
Peer Pressure for Adults
While sober cliques are great for non-drinkers, there are people out there who aren’t super stoked by the sober crowd, especially bartenders, who tend to prefer people who order the hard stuff in order to increase the check and in turn their tip. And then there are the people who find those who don’t drink just incredibly strange.
“I get a Diet Coke and an appetizer, and tip really well, because they’re not that happy if you’re not drinking,” says 29-year-old Lauren Singleton-Meyers, who put her drinking days to rest two years ago.
But why waste your money tipping on a shitty Diet Coke? It might be better for the sober crew to stay out of bars and clubs entirely—unless they have a social reason to be there—and create their own wild parties with extra-fizzy mocktails and ass-kicking DJs. Certainly, this would prove more fun than a stale Halloween dance at your local AA hall, which can be, quite frankly, very depressing.
Not Going to Cut It
The truth is that these sober social networks are a good start to creating outings that don’t revolve around liquor, but what’s going on in New York is really only just a start. If you’re young and hot and used to wearing saucy leg wear and combat stilettos to off-the-chain raves, you’ll probably want to stay away from the hiking excursions.
And if some asinine coworker gives you a condescending bug-eyed stare when you order a Perrier instead of a vodka tonic, perhaps you can tell them to go mind their own fucking business. And then go out and get high; trust us, there are plenty of healthy (and unhealthy) ways.