Australia is known for its vast outback, its beautiful pristine beaches, its laidback culture and our people’s ability to drink anyone and everyone under the table.
Friday night beers, Sunday morning mimosas, Wednesday night red wines and Saturday night cocktails seem to be as much a part of our DNA as Vegemite, cork hats and referring to everyone as ‘mate’.
But there’s a new trend brewing that sees people ditch the booze altogether because it makes them feel, well, pretty darn average.
In response to this trend, a vast array of sober social events and alcohol-free activities have surfaced across the country. And while these activities may already be popular with the green smoothie drinking, lycra-wearing, meditation-doing folk, sober socialising has the potential to be a wellness craze that goes mainstream.
The sober curious
So, what has caused the rise of the ‘sober curious’ subculture? Recent research suggests that millennials are drinking far less than previous generations, with health concerns the most common reason for the abstemiousness. According to Australian Nutritionist, Jessica Sepel “people are realising that alcohol is not so good for us – especially for our livers! So, I think people are embracing the sober social scene and feeling better for it.”
In a society where Instagram health bloggers are idolized and knowledge is available at the touch of a button, people are more informed about their health than ever before. With this knowledge, comes the uncomfortable truth that the over consumption of alcohol is, well, bad for you. From your mind, to your body, to your relationships, to your bank account, it can impact every corner of your life.
“people are realising that alcohol is not so good for us – especially for our livers! So, I think people are embracing the sober social scene and feeling better for it.”
From gin to jogging – my journey
For many, however, the idea of socialising without a shot of liquid courage sounds like social suicide. As someone who is ‘sober curious’ myself, I can attest to the fear of being labelled dull. I dreaded the idea of navigating the probing questions, not to mention the social anxiety and shaken confidence that I knew would come when out on the town without a drink in hand.
But after the initial awkwardness subsides, many find sobriety comes with countless benefits. In my own experience, going alcohol-free gave me mental clarity, self-confidence, allowed me to forge more genuine connections and relationships and allowed me more time to focus on health, professional and personal goals. Because it wasn’t just the alcohol I said goodbye too – it was the days wasted being hung over, nights spent saying and doing things I cringe to think of the next day and the multiple mystery credit card charges that were invariably traced back to kebab shops.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. One of the biggest challenges I faced was figuring out how to replace the boozy Friday night drinks and other weekend rituals for something equally satisfying.
Until recently, if you were interested in ditching the drink in the name of wellness or personal growth, there weren’t a whole lot of options available that provided the same social buzz that comes with a night on the town. But, now, sober socialising events and activities are cropping up all over the country and there are plenty of opportunities to branch out and try your hand at getting out and about without the buzz.
Here’s just a few to get you started:
And if these events don’t tickle your fancy, many bars across Australia are introducing extensive mocktail lists which are as curated as any cocktail menu, but cheaper and hangover free – bonus!