"Do you like... still go out, though?"
As a 23-year-old Londoner and an ex-various-nightclub worker, I often get asked this question when old friends and colleagues come round for yoga and hear me harping on about the correlation between alcohol and next-day productivity (strong-negative by the way, unless your product is bile). I reply that I do still occasionally 'go out' - it's just a different experience now. So I thought I'd share my tips on staying sober, whatever your reasons, while going to bars & clubs with friends.
(1) Say no when it doesn't matter
Stay true to yourself and don't be pressurised into tagging along on random Tuesday nights out because you're afraid of being called boring if you stay in. If your friends are real friends, they'll respect your choice.
(2) Say yes when it does matter
If you know that your presence at a certain event/on a particular night out will mean a lot to your friend(s), weigh it up and go if it feels right.
(3) Dress up, dress down
When I used to work in clubs, I brought what I called my 'man uniform' with me. This consisted of tracksuit pants, a jumper, socks and trainers, and in winter also a hoodie, coat, scarf, hat and gloves. It made me feel less vulnerable when travelling home at 4am. Nowadays, I'll take this with me in a rucksack and change in the club on arrival and departure, leaving my bag in the cloakroom. My friends are generally pleased with this because they can fit all their stuff in my bag and they don't have to pay for the cloakroom. No need to scrimp on cloakroom fees when you're not spending lots on drinks all night. Be safe and be warm!
(4) The dancefloor is your playground
Use it to work out - everyone around you is drunk anyway, so you work your magic as if you were three Patróns down the line and get in the middle of that circle. Might as well lose yourself and throw some real shapes with the butt your mama gave you. No Zumba instructor necessary.
(5) Drink whatever soft drink keeps you sane
I genuinely really like water (with a slice of lemon if I'm feeling fancy), and get double glared-at for not 'at least having a Coke'. Fuck it. Do what you want.
(6) Do stupid things
If someone suggests a race up Tottenham Court Road, do it. A lot of things we do when we're drunk are really just things we used to do as kids that we're embarrassed to do now until we get some alcohol in us: races, piggy backs, midnight feasts, sleeping in random places. Use the lowered state of your friends' inhibitions to let go of your own self-consciousness.
(7) Document everyone else doing stupid things
Because it's nice to have non-blurry pictures of questionable moments (such as those displayed below).
(8) Leave when you're ready
By midnight, everyone will be so drunk that by morning they won't remember being upset about you not heading to Heaven after G-A-Y. Stay as long as you're having a good time. When your friend's vodka cranberry spills onto your white t-shirt for the third time, it's fair game to call it a night.
(9) Jog home?!
I'm not saying do a timed 10k back from TigerTiger. But if you're as cheap as me and you want to save on your bus fare, a light jog or brisk-walk is a nice wind-down after you've put yourself through 4 hours of bad Adele remixes and sticky floor tiles.
(10) What about if you wanna bang boys?
That's up to you. I'm just saying, if you end up at someone else's house, you probably won't regret having trainers and clothes that cover your chest to change into in the morning. I also guess you'll make more informed decisions having not been inebriated, the knock-on effect of this being that the selection of bangable men probably decreases in size due to your more upheld standards. Win-win.
So don't feel like you can't go out just because you don't drink, but equally don't feel that you have to go out if you're not feeling it, whether you drink or not. Inhibitions are all in the mind, so be confident in yourself and forget using alcohol as a crutch to lower those inhibitions - because you're great as you are.
And remember, there are SO many reasons for different people not drinking - we need to get rid of this idea that, just because someone isn't drinking, they're judgemental or have a superiority complex. They might not be drinking because they're on a health plan, because they're addressing issues with alcohol, they're pregnant, they have a health condition, their religion prohibits it, or because they just don't feel like drinking that night. Respect, and have fun, and be safe, and if banging boys do use protection.
Love & light!