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How often have you been to a bar without the social lubrication of alcohol? How many Sundays have you woken up feeling fresh, clear headed and excited about the genuine connections you have made? I love a tipple much as the next person but crippling anxiety, days wasted in bed and texts that cannot be unsent, maybe the teetotallers are on to something?

London is known for its after work drinks culture and Britain has, in contrast to its European neighbours, an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. But are we really binge drink Britain?

Maybe not on one side of the generational scale.

According to researchers from University College, London 29% of 10,000 young people between ages 16-24 consider themselves completely sober.

Many students are navigating university without alcohol and joining the workforce hangover free. Uni Freshers events organisers have caught on and are now catering to new audiences.

So is getting wasted just not cool anymore? As “going sober” well and truly enters the mainstream, why are millennials making this lifestyle choice?

We all know the negative effects of too much alcohol.
increased risk of physical accidents
indulging in unsafe sex
serious mental health issues like depression
long term physical conditions

Whereas saying goodbye to booze might just improve your sleep, energy, health, complexion and finances.

But it’s such a huge part of our culture because of the undisputable upsides and drinking has become a crutch for many of us.  If I’ve drunk the right amount, I feel more confident, carefree, relaxed and somehow I can even dance (or at least think I can). Can I be all those things without a glass of wine in hand?

There are plenty of events to do sober; sport, yoga, and food festivals for instance. But does that mean the teetotaller has to avoid bars?

The social barrier is still very real but it can be overcome. Nightlife manager Emily Syphas runs the events company Sober & Social, and I caught up with her to talk about her vision for a life “Shaken not slurred”.

What lead you to start sober and social?

I stopped drinking in April 2018 and decided I wasn’t going to stop my life. I still wanted to go to nice places and have a good time. Thinking there must be other people like me who wanted to be sober and meet new people, I did some research.

There were sober meetups but they weren’t in places I wanted to go. So I decided to set up “Sober & Social” to fill a gap in the market. My events aren’t just open to people who are sober but to anyone who wants to be in a situation where there isn’t pressure to drink.

Why do you think so many young people are giving up alcohol?

I think people are realising the down sides just don’t outweigh the up sides and we are more health conscious these days. I also believe the social stigma of being sober is changing, whereas a few years ago I think people were self-conscious if they were sober, now it’s something to be proud of.

What has been your biggest challenge since going sober?

I think assessing every situation instead of jumping straight in to things. I used to say YES to everything.
Now I ask myself – is this a safe situation to put myself in? and if I don’t feel it is, can I get myself out okay?
Am I around people who respect me and won’t mind if I leave early?  
It’s not an argument for not doing things, but how much is my sobriety at risk by doing them? If the answer is too much I won’t go.

What can people expect from a sober and social event?

Each event is different. I have done a yoga/brunch, sober bar crawl and a cocktail master class. The key thing that astounds me every time is the people. Every event has been amazing and that’s because the people that have attended have all really connected with each other. The conversation is always flowing and that’s what makes the events special.

So I find myself in a bar in Mayfair making my own cocktails; of the non-alcoholic variety. I felt sceptical at first, but the energy in the room is lively and the cocktails are delicious. Made with Seedlip spirits, they are not the sugary sweet mocktails you might expect. Conversations around the room are meaningful and I am left feeling that although alcohol could have melted away my initial awkwardness, I am perfectly capable of enjoying myself without it.

The next day I wake up to a clear head, some new numbers on my phone, make it to my yoga class and clean my room – all before lunch. It’s hard to deny they might be onto something.

The next brunch event will take place at The Phene on Saturday 23rd March. Check Emily’s website or Instagram for all upcoming Sober and Social events. If interested please email emily@soberandsocial.com for booking details. See you there!

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