Club Soda, a sober social movement, is encouraging people to drink less alcohol and feel great about it
You can be sober and social.
That’s the idea behind Club Soda, an event series and community for “sober curious” people who want to drink less, or not at all not, while still having fun.
Ruby Warrington, a British writer based in Brooklyn, New York, thought up the idea based on her own personal demons she was battling. As a former journalist in London, alcohol was ingrained in the social work culture. She said she was drinking three or four nights a week, and sometimes more on the weekend, but never considered herself an alcoholic.
“By any outside standards, it wasn’t a huge amount, it’s not like I was getting up in the morning and having a drink. Alcohol was just part of life,” Warrington tells Moneyish. “It began to take a toll on my overall well being.”
When Warrington moved to New York City she realized she was ready to make some serious lifestyle changes. She was able to quit drinking whenever she wanted to, and started to cut back, but she wanted more control over her cravings and feeling uncomfortable at events without having a drink in her hand. So she went to her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
“By this point I was drinking once or twice a month. I got to AA and it didn’t resonate with me. I couldn’t do the classic intro ‘My name is Ruby and I’m an alcoholic’ because I didn’t feel like it was my truth, I didn’t feel like I was powerless over alcohol,” she explains.
“I realized there was nowhere to have that conversation to address or talk about our modern drinking culture.”
Warrington’s old habits, like many, reflect the longstanding reality that Americans are drinking in excess. One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming around eight drinks per binge, and binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18 to 34-years-old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking is also more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more than in people with lower incomes, the CDC reports, noting, however, that people with lower incomes tend to binge drink more often and consume more drinks when they do.
To combat these alarming statistics, Warrington teamed up with co-founder Biet Simkin, a meditation leader, to kick off the Club Soda (soda stands for Sober Or Debating Abstinence) series in New York City. The events feature a combination of guided meditations, lectures on topics like sober sex and dating, conversations on how to navigate the holidays without getting drunk, and non-boozy brunches. Tickets run from $33 to $40 per event and attract hundreds of people, particularly millennials, and people over 30.
Ebenezer Bond, 41, an entrepreneur and marketing expert from Brooklyn, joined Club Soda after ending a six year relationship.
“We were really good at masking our issues with alcohol and other things and when I got out of that relationship, I started to take a hard look at myself, at what I wanted and who I wanted to be in the world,” says Bond, who has attended a number of meditations and lectures through Club Soda.
“I was trying to get to a place where I just didn’t feel like I needed to drink seven days a week or even five of the seven days. If I could just cut out five of the seven days and just drink on the weekend I would just feel better.” Now he says he only has one drink, on occasion, if he goes out, and chooses not to drink on dates.
“It helps you make a more conscious decision on whether you want to be with that person or not,” he says.
Club Soda joins a social sobriety movement among other communities that preach a no-alcohol, high on life mantra. DayBreaker, the sober dance party rave, launched in New York in 2014 with juices instead of mimosas, and hugs not drugs, during its sober bash complete with strobe lights and a bumping DJ that has since gone global. And Conscious Family Dinner is another event series that gathers together a group of people for dinner with vegan, gluten-free food and non-alcoholic beverages. Then there’s SobrieTEA, a place for like minded sober curious individuals to sip tea and dance to live music.
The ideal candidate for Club Soda, Warrington says, is someone who doesn’t necessarily identify with having a drinking problem, but who is questioning their alcohol consumption and would like to cut back or drink differently or is perhaps just looking for support. The website has a disclaimer acknowledging that the series is not an addiction recovery program, although it may be a stepping stone to AA for some. They urge visitors to seek a higher level of support if they might have a drinking problem.