Kira Dunlop says she can’t count the number of times she’s been called boring.
She stopped drinking this past year but still likes to have fun. That concept, of socializing while sober, seems strange to many, she says, and outright offensive to others.
“You have a hard day at work, you go out for a beer. You know, your girlfriend dumped you, your truck broke down, you go out for a beer,” Dunlop told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday. “If I came, either it was a total buzz kill or, alternatively, like I just felt super, super uncomfortable and I had to leave.”
Dunlop, 23, founded organized a group in November called the Calgary Boring Little Girls Club, a tongue-in-cheek name. It’s dedicated to running events for young people who want to have fun without drinking, from skating to enjoying live music.
There is a similar group in Edmonton, Sober Saturdayz, that puts on bar events with nonalcoholic beverages.
The founders of both groups say they tried to curtail their own drinking, after seeing the negative impacts of it, but found their social lives disappeared. Dating, as well, became difficult for Sober Saturdayz founder Katie Degen, 26.
“People don’t know where to take you or how to talk to you. Suddenly it gets really awkward just because you’re sober,” she said. “Especially like at this age they’re like, ‘well, what do you do then?'”
In Canada, 78 per cent of people over the age of 15 drank sometimes in 2017, according to the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, a figure that’s remained steady in recent years.
Young people aged 20 to 24 show signs of riskier alcohol use, the annual survey consistently finds. Twenty-nine per cent of that age group exceeded the amount of drinking required to be considered chronic risk. According to the guidelines, chronic risk means drinking up to 10 drink a week for women and 15 for men.
The positive response to the events has been overwhelming and unexpected, Degen said. She’s heard from people of all ages who love the bar scene but not the drinks.
“No one teaches you how to drink. They tell you you can’t drink until you’re legal and then all of a sudden is a free-for-all,” she said. “Until it’s a problem — and then suddenly you’re supposed to be embarrassed about it.”
The two groups are teaming up for a joint event. Each city will host Love Fest, a night of live music with complimentary hair and makeup, plus non-alcoholic cocktails and treats. Calgary’s event is on Feb. 9 and Edmonton’s is on Feb. 23.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.