Put down that drink and join the ‘soberocracy’
Social media pressure and health concerns have made going dry a viable lifestyle choice, says Hannah Betts
Do you “Go Sober for October”, the annual Macmillan Cancer Support campaign in which hundreds of thousands of Brits give up the booze? ze? Don’t worry if not: it won’t be long before Alcohol Concern’s “Dry January”uary” is upon us, when five million of us s collapse on to the wagon. If you doubt you can last an entire monthth without drinking, how about drinking king just a bit less? To target midweek week drinkers keen on cutting back k – the “sober-curious” – Waitrose is launching unching half-bottles; sales of its single-glass le-glass bottles are already up 15 per cent, while its food hall beneath John n Lewis’s Oxford Street flagship is doing g a roaring trade in Seedlip, the world’s d’s first non-alcoholic spirit.
We know that the young eschew booze, ze, with 27 per cent of those under 24 deeming eeming themselves abstinent. However,wever, more and more it feels as if it isn’tn’t only millennials who are stepping ping away from the sauvignon. Recentent figures from the Office for Nationalonal Statistics showed the proportion portion of adults drinking alcohol is at the lowest level on record, with almost ost half the population now shunning nning a regular drink.
And nd just last week, spotting a growing wing niche in the market, Professoressor David Nutt, the psychiatrist and former drugs tsar, announced plans s to sell “alcosynths”, a range of drinks ks that deliver all the inhibitionunleashing ashing effects of spirits without the morning-after malaise.
Howeverowever you shake or stir it, it seems we are witnessing nessing the rise of a “soberocracy”. erocracy”.
On n Thursday, a hot new happeningpening will hit the nation’s on’s capital, called The Shine. Fresh from LA, the cultishsounding nding “volunteerproduced duced inspirational variety ety show” will feature ure music, bands, film, meditation, “magicalgical connections” and sundry other forms of “enlightertainment”. nlightertainment”. What at distinguishes this pop-up up event from other La-La a Land emissions is that its participants – sorry, y, “mindful tastemakers” emakers” – will createte an “alcohol-free vibe”: ”: drunk on consciousness,sciousness, while being g stone cold sober. er.
Light ght Waktins, its founder, nder, tells me: “Sober ber socialising has long ong been a part of life fe in New York and Los Angeles. But people ple in Britain are now starting to ask questionsstions about their alcohol hol consumption, and we want to contribute to that hat evolution. If we can inspire ire Londoners to have fun in this way, and it spreads to other places in the e UK, then The Shine is living up to itss intent.”
Certainly, ertainly, it feels timely: the seemingly mingly ingrained British belief that nights ts out and nights in both require alcohol hol is looking increasingly anachronistic. chronistic.
Dr r Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Concern, cern, identifies several causes: “There ere are a range of factors, all of which ch probably play a role: economics,nomics, different ways of socialising, demographics, law enforcement, more ‘authoritative’ parenting styles, fashion, and a trend towards healthier lifestyles. In general, there is fresh thinking about what we put in our bodies. In some ways, this has the hallmarks of a movement.”
At this point, I reveal that I am smugly