Software tester James Long (30) from Manchester is an avid clubber and sometimes DJ. He spoke to Voice of Calm about why he has drastically cut down his drinking and how he manages to go clubbing without alcohol! Yes, I said, clubbing…WITHOUT ALCOHOL!
Tell us about your drinking habits
In the past couple of years, I have started to take my fitness and health a bit more seriously. I don’t drink during the week at all, and only drink alcohol at an event if it occurs on a weekend, should I choose to. I can go for months without a drink at all. For example, I go to festivals in the summer and might choose to drink for that particular event and not do so again for ages.
I guess I used to always fall for the binge! That’s why I decided to change my drinking habits and stop being such a binge drinker. Now if I do drink I keep an eye on it and have plenty of water.
So, how do you go clubbing without alcohol?
I have always been a disciplined person. For example, I went to the Warehouse Project in Manchester recently and decided to go sober! It’s possibly one of the hardest environments to be in without drinking but I knew my plans way before the night. I knew that I was going without alcohol and was going to enjoy my whole night sober.
Thankfully, I found that I can dance just as hard when running on water and I will remember every song that was played, the people I met and the conversations I had.
I have also really learnt to focus on the music at a gig and I get a real buzz from that and taking in an environment, which means I don’t have to drink. However, if I do decide to then I don’t get caught up on it, I just make sure I have decided what I’m doing prior to the event. That way I am in control of my decisions.
Do you feel pressure from people to drink more? Do you feel left out?
Yes! And sometimes yes!
If you don’t feel the pressure to drink then hats off to you. I think it’s seen as very strange if you don’t drink. It’s super hard to avoid it.
Some of the hardest situations to not drink are stag or hen do’s, weddings and some dinner parties. I’ve never been a wine drinker but wine is constantly associated with food.
Sometimes I feel left out but I have managed to rationalise that by saying to myself, “It’s ok, people will hardly notice the difference.” That and the fact that I’m being as sociable as I possibly can.
What excuses / reasons do you give?
To be honest, I do still find this one hard. I guess it totally depends on the situation. If I decide on a non-drinking night then the best thing is to not give too many in-depth reasons. Just “I’m not drinking tonight/today” is probably my most common. Some people have an issue, some people don’t.
How do you feel about the levels of drinking today?
People drink to escape and have a good time, which is completely fine with me. I’ve done it sooo much. Alcohol is just there, always available. Since moving to a city, I have seen it on another level.
Having said that I have read that drinking culture is slowing down a little in the younger generation. Maybe that’s due to the boom of the the fitness/Instagram revolution but that’s only my thinking.
I really feel that drinking to excess will become a lot less common and I hope that the culture for people that want to remain sober will become easier. There will most likely be a shift in tradition.
What alternatives do you enjoy?
I think alternative drinks have become a lot better. Mocktails are great or alcohol-free beer is a good choice. I went to a wedding a few weeks ago and only drank Becks Blue, which was totally fine.
What are the benefits of (near) sobriety?
It basically improves my productivity and lets me focus on my early hours weight training in the gym with no lagging. If I drink then that can knock me off eating healthily which will effect my weight. I also find that I drink a huge amount more water nowadays and I am definitely more alert.
One of the major issues for me was anxiety after drinking so not having to deal with that is so much better for me. I guess I just like being a productive person and drinking heavily is like deliberatly making yourself ill. Time is precious and life is too short for hangovers!
Read more about James on his blog www.jameslong.co.uk
Follow James on Facebook @jamesrhlong or Twitter @jamess_long