“Teetotally Awesome!” – you can go sober and stay social
Written by Laura Hillier, Bristol-based writer
On Saturday 8th February, Sober Circle South West hosted an event called “Teetotally Awesome!” at Bristol’s Watershed Studio 5 (sponsored by Caleño Drinks). Sober Circle was founded by Sam Hall in August 2019 after she gave up drinking, as a way of finding likeminded, sober friends in Bristol. The Sober Circle community offers diverse socialising opportunities which don’t involve alcohol – whether that’s dinners, walks, coffee meet-ups or even hiring out a cinema for a Love Actually screening at Christmas!
Teetotally Awesome was the first larger-scale event, featuring a panel discussion with speakers from the sober lifestyle. Sam opened the panel discussion, and solidified the community spirit of the event by inviting attendees to introduce themselves to the people sat around them. The speakers were:
- Lee Davies – “The Gay Sober”, blogger and actor
- Millie Gooch – writer, speaker and founder of Sober Girl Society
- Mandy Manners – co-founder of Love Sober and co-presenter of the Love Sober podcast
- Ellie Webb – founder of Caleño Drinks
Discussions by the speakers highlighted the profound and varied ways in which quitting alcohol has changed their lives. Questions for the speakers had been submitted in advance by attendees, with a particularly common theme of sober socialising. Whilst this can appear daunting initially, the positive effects of this lifestyle change were apparent. Socialising when sober means that people are instead spending time with the “real you”, and making new, positive choices for yourself can feel extremely empowering. Stopping drinking encouraged the speakers to create new opportunities for socialising for themselves, and over time, going out and having fun without alcohol can become the new normal.
The speakers also explained the significant mental and physical health benefits they have experienced since going sober. Stopping drinking was described as life-changing in terms of the effects on depression and anxiety levels, and has helped the speakers to feel that their behaviour is now more aligned with their values, in comparison to the choices made whilst intoxicated. The effects of quitting alcohol can be clearly felt on the outside and inside – “you can see your face change and get your sparkle back. Being able to love and like yourself is really great”. It also allows the possibility for new creative endeavours; for example, the Love Sober podcast has now had around 65 episodes featuring a wonderful range of guests from the sober community.
The panel talk was wrapped up by asking the speakers what their favourite thing was about their choice to go sober, and the responses were truly inspiring. They felt able to get to know themselves better, by gaining new hobbies and having more free time for these as a result of no longer having hangovers. Being sober made it possible to be more present in terms of parenting, and dedicate more time to working on one’s business.
The event also featured a taste of drinks from the sponsor, Caleño, for all attendees. We tried the Caleño “Juniper and Inca Berry Blend”, which is a tropical, alcohol-free spirit inspired by Colombia. It was deliciously fruity, and was perfectly balanced out with a twist of tonic water. Ellie started Caleño after struggling to find non-alcoholic drinks that she actually wanted on a night out – it’s great to see that innovative businesses are now providing more non-alcoholic drink options that are interesting, fun and high quality.
DJ and founder of Ups and Downs, Mike Braithwaite, was present at Teetotally Awesome. Mike provided music at the event, and said a few words about the Ups and Downs store and how it aims to raise money for the charity Music Minds Matter. There was also a suggestion that he may DJ at future music nights for Sober Circle – watch this space!
I really enjoyed this event, and found the whole experience extremely uplifting. Even though this may have been the first sober event for some of the attendees, it was lovely to witness such a strong sense of community and acceptance. Teetotally Awesome! showed me that there is support available and that you can keep a lively and active social life which doesn’t involve alcohol. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Sober Circle and seeing how the movement continues to grow!
To join Sober Circle and find out more about their events, join the private group “Sober Circle South West” on Facebook. The next meet-up is on Sunday 8th March at 11am - time for some coffee, cake & conversation in Bristol.
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