Alcoholics have long known about the benefits of sobriety. Now a new group is learning about those benefits. They're called the sober curious.
What is Sober Curious?
Contrary to popular myth, the sober curious do not trace their origins to Alanis Morissette's hit "Hand in My Pocket." On the other hand, the line "I feel drunk but I'm sober" has become a sort of sober curious rallying cry. Especially when Morissette's song gets sung in sober karaoke.
The sober curious do have a few years to them though. Primarily in London and New York, where a small legion of urbane urbanites decided they wanted to hit the town without suffering the nasty side effects of alcohol.
Their sober curiosity launched a movement.
Club Soda UK came first. The London-based initiative even calls itself a movement. A Mindful Drinking Movement. So no, it isn't completely alcohol-free. But it's pretty close. And for those who suffer from FOMA (the Fear of Missing Alcohol), these British trendsetters will help you cut down and -- if you'd like -- quit completely.
"We want to create a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they are not drinking alcohol," says the Club Soda UK website.
Club SÖDA NYC, on the other hand, is strictly for the sober curious. In fact, co-founder Ruby Warrington even wrote a same-named book on the subject. SÖDA stands for "Sober or Debating Abstinence." And its mission is promoted in meet-ups, talks, parties, and workshops.
The event series cultivates is "a new space to investigate what happens when we re-frame our relationship with alcohol," says their site. "[And] to remove some of the stigma that exists around sobriety and alcohol abuse."
Other sober curious New Yorkers include the folks behind Listen, as well as Brooklyn's new Getaway Bar. Word is there are many more dry nightlife establishments on the near horizon.
The Sober Curious Speak
Clarity. Courage. Authentic. Real. The biggest adventure you'll ever go on in your life. That's how Ruby Warrington and friends begin the hype for her book Sober Curious. And while the superlatives do admittedly breach the threshold of hyperbole, the message transcends the hype.
Sobriety can indeed be a life-changing experience -- for anyone.
Sah D'Simone espounds upon that fact.
"I think sobriety's a foundation," he says. "When we are clear, we can hear the heart. And that's where our purpose and our passion and our meaningfulness live."
Aaron Rose, in turn, calls sobriety "a social justice issue." One that allows us to tap into "the difference that we're supposed to make."
Then there's Warrington's sobriety cheerleaders, who claim kicking alcohol has helped them look, work and feel better, as well as to accept themselves. Warrington herself, of course, leads those cheerleaders.
"I get amazing sleep at night," she says. "My skin's really clear. I get all of these amazing things from not drinking alcohol."
Warrington never considered herself an alcoholic. She did however admit to using booze to socialize more comfortably, as well as to suppress her feelings. It was then that the term sober curious was reportedly coined. The basics came in quick succession.
We don’t actually need "liquid courage" to approach a new person or dance like it’s 2019" claims Sober Curious. Confidence can come from doing a power pose or repeating a positive affirmation.
Is a Bar a Bar Without Alcohol?
Bars of course have always played a pivotal part in American culture, be it the American Revolution (Boston's Green Dragon Tavern), gay rights (NY's Stonewall Inn) or popular television (Cheers). So it stands to reason that some people would miss bars as much if not more than they missed alcohol.
Allegra Hobbs is one of those people. So she wrote about it for Vice. And her piece poignantly laments the loss.
"Bars are spaces that are no longer for me," she writes. "They are spaces for people who drink. When I go to a bar, I am on the periphery, an observer of the shared activity and bonding ritual rather than a participant."
"Then there’s the social pressure to imbibe," she continues, as well as "the anxiety that comes with resisting that pressure. I worry over my demeanor when I decline booze — was I light enough, unbothered enough? I worry people will think I’m haughty or holier-than-thou."
"In short," she adds, "much of the ease that came with bar-going is gone for me. It went out the window when I gave up drinking."
Nevertheless, Hobbs isn't mad. In fact, she's on to a whole new chapter. She's also accepting.
Sure she had to find "new (healthier!) ways of managing [her] anxiety. She's also "had to find new ways of unwinding after work, as well as new ways of socializing on weekends. More importantly, perhaps, she's had to accept that something [she] once found solace in is now a source of mild discomfort."
"I’ve found it’s best to recognize and accept the things I miss about drinking," writes Hobbs. I've also had "to accept I may never stop missing them. [Still] those lingering disappointments are far outweighed by the benefits of sobriety."
The rise of the sober curious will ensure Hobbs and her ilk will continue to reap the benefits of sobriety. So will the influx of sober bars. Can a bar really be a bar without alcohol? The sober curious say "Yes." And we at Recovery Boot Camp wholeheartedly agree.