I went on a night out in Bournemouth completely sober, here’s how it went
One soda lime, hold the vodka, please!
Research suggests that more young people and teenagers are reducing their intake or abstaining from alcohol entirely. Whether this is for financial, religious, health or personal reasons, or with the correlation of increased recreational drug use on the rise, more people are socialising without alcohol.
For some background, although I work in a bar and once went out 17 nights in a row, I’m a student-athlete with competitive seasons, and it’s led me to experience sober nights out frequently. The threat of WADA turning up on my doorstep weekly to drug test me for my sport is enough for me to be used to saying “no” often, so this will be easy from a peer pressure standpoint. However, the thought of observing the inebriated swathes of students without being paid behind a bar is off-putting at best.
My friend spotted a poster for Swiftogeddon and knew immediately if I wasn’t to be transported to the land of vodka red bulls, I’d love to be cathartically screaming Taylor Swift lyrics with an army of freshers. The worst part about clubbing is the jarring mix of the house into rap, dropping into drum and bass, so just total Taylor all night? Sold. Here is how my totally sober night out in Bournemouth went:
How it started
I started off at Buffalo, the watering hole of Winton. I had some energy bombs to kick off the night: cherry slush and Diet Coke. My friend Abbi bumped into two of her friends, Tom and Morgan, who had mentioned the event, and we managed (with little resistance) to convince them to come with us.
Rather than getting a taxi into town as usual, being aware of the time and knowing buses still ran made a difference to my wallet. We hopped on and headed to Belaton, my old accommodation and now theirs so that the boys could have an outfit change. I performed the mandatory room check of personality clues, notably a Supreme shower cap, a supermarket staff card (neither work at a supermarket), and a mold-upholstered loaf of bread. We calculated when the crowd would have a suitable buzz (around five drinks) and headed to the venue.
The main event
We arrive at the Old Fire Station and felt the familiar damp stamp of the club night name on our wrists. The £10 entry was far more painful sober but absolutely worth it in retrospect. The music pounded louder with each door we passed through, peeling off our jackets in anticipation that the sweaty inside climate was welcoming on the cold October night.
The key to sober nights is variety, enjoying different drinks and flavours, and nicotine if you partake. Smoking area conversations with drunk people can be tedious, but dancing with them is hilarious, and the whole experience is a minefield for dodging pools of vomit.
It’s pretty sad that for the first time inside a club, I didn’t once feel the threat of anything bad happening, as the crowd was so carefree and fun. The DJ was dancing behind the decks, and the choruses of Style, Enchanted and All Too Well echoed throughout the room in elated harmony.
We spilt out onto the pavement after her greatest hits were played and headed back to Belaton for an afters, which involved throwing orange segments into each other’s mouths and bullying each other for our humanities degrees.
The following day is pleasant enough to enjoy waking up at 9 m to start assignment work without the familiar spinning vision and memory gaps from the night before. Once I had my first sober night out, I enjoyed them more and more. The only thing I missed was the offerings of makeup remover, water and a snack my sober self leaves for my drunk self.
Being sober made a vast difference in my memory, observation and appreciation of my surroundings. I don’t think it hindered my ability to have fun or enjoy the music, but my longevity for enjoyment, stamina and ability to remain in the moment was definitely impacted. Being at a single artist night like a gig or with music you enjoy was the most significant factor, and I couldn’t imagine anything worse than standing and dancing around intoxicated people. It’s something everyone should try because you never know, you might come to love it.