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Sober And Social: How To Enjoy Your Night Out Without Booze

10 November 2023 | 1:42 pm | Jessie Lynch

"When I got sober, the idea of going out without booze was confusing."

Have fun without the booze

Have fun without the booze (Canva)

There's a new vibe rippling through Gen-Z Aussies, and it's not from the latest bar opening.

It's the sound of a generation rethinking their Friday nights, choosing mocktails over cocktails, and finding their buzz in healthier ways.

The stats are in, and they're pretty eye-opening: from 2007 to 2019, the number of young folks skipping the booze has shot up. We're seeing 73% of 14–17-year-olds and 21% of 18–24-year-olds giving the cold shoulder to alcohol.

This isn't just a bunch of stats on a page; it's a cultural shift that's also picking up steam on social media.

Thanks to the sober-curious movement, with social media challenges like Sober October and Dry July, more and more young people are taking time to think about why they drink and, sometimes, why they might not want to.

As Sober October 2023 kicks off, thousands of Aussies are giving this whole sobriety thing a go. And they've got someone who has been through it all cheering them on: Amber Horsburgh, a millennial who decided to ditch the drink in her 20s.

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Now, five years without a drop, she's sharing her story, hoping to inspire others to join the sober bandwagon — even if just for a month — with her Sew It Goes series. Her short film isn't just about her sobriety; it's about the real stuff—sober sex, avoiding those blackout nights, and how skipping the spirits can be a game-changer for your mental health.

Her story is a slice of the bigger picture, where choosing not to drink is becoming more mainstream among young Aussies.

We hit up Amber to find out her top tips for enjoying your night out — without booze.

 “I used to drink myself to blackout. I’d say offensive things through rancid breath. Yet, I thought that version of me was the one people wanted to hang with,” Amber told Purple Sneakers.

So, when I got sober, the idea of going out without booze was confusing. When you drink you tap social cues that tell people - tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

“Champagne - we’re celebrating. New girlfriend - share a bottle of wine! Open and honest conversation. Let’s order shots! NOW… this is a party! Fancy cocktails - you’ve turned what is essentially sitting on a bench into a romantic moment. Do you know what soda water does? Says, this meeting is not a priority. My guard is up. I’m not joining in.”

She added, “I’m five years into sobriety and have made beautiful memories on the sodas. Here are my tips for the sober curious for having a great night sober.”

  1. Clubs + concerts > bars

    Bars are boring as a non-drinker. Mediocre food and overpriced lolly water. Too loud to chat yet not enough to get lost in the music.

    Clubs and concerts on the other hand - are brilliant.

    You can dance full out. Listen to music really loud. Gawk over pretty people in lovely clothes. Discover new artists. Unlike bars, you can join in regardless of what’s in your glass.

  2. Get dressed up

    You know the saying - it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed? I believe this.

    Clothes can turn you into a character when you don’t have the inner strength to be that person. If you’re nervous about going out sober, make yourself look fierce asf.

    The act of transforming yourself from leggings and a top knot to whoever your alter ego is a powerful confidence boost.

  3. Make Sunday more fun than Saturday night

    Plan something to look forward to the next day. The earlier and novel the better.

    Adding something to your weekend that you could absolutely not do on a hangover makes it easier to say no to booze the night before.

  4. Practice saying why you’re not drinking out loud

    The fear is about revealing your drinking habits that you’re not cool with to people you don’t trust. A party line protects you from sharing.

    What is likely to happen is no one asks. Those that do probably won’t care. In my five years of sobriety I’ve had two friends make a big deal about it and that was because they were conscious of their own drinking habits.

  5. Make a game out of it

    Events where I don’t know anyone are particularly tough. When I feel nervous I motivate myself by setting up a game. A kind of social scavenger hunt. 

    For example -
    “I will leave tonight with one new friend”
    “I will find inspiration for X new project I am working on”
    “I will find one new favourite song/artist in a set”
    “I will stay until this time”

  1. Tell someone before why you’re not drinking

    The first wedding I went to sober was one of my dearest friends. I thought she’d think I was blowing her off by not drinking so I shared my struggles with alcohol.

    Instead, I arrived to pre-drinks to find my own 0% champagne she’d bought so I could toast with everyone. She’s a beautiful friend.

    A problem shared is a problem halved. Having someone there that knows what’s going on helps if you need to take a break at any point or want to leave.

  2. Just leave

    Reddit told me this early in my sobriety journey and it stuck - “sometimes a s*** party is just a s*** party”.

    I used to worry that people weren’t having a good time so I’d write myself off trying to chase the fun. Me behaving like a drunk a** didn’t make the party more fun.

    If you’ve tried to have a good time and it’s not happening. Just leave and do something else.