Life on the wagon: How to party sober

Illustration by Miles Huffman

I don’t drink. It was a lifestyle choice. I am not religious or a health nut, and I don’t hold any moral dissent to drinking or smoking. I just decided to stop awhile back.

I still go out. You might see me running around downtown every now and then. I’ll be the ginger sipping on an iced tea.

However, when I stopped drinking, I had some trouble adjusting my nightlife behavior accordingly. I just didn’t see a point. Why was I even out if I wasn’t getting inebriated?

Since then, I’ve learned to love going out and staying sober.

I understand that people who regularly drink decide to sit a weekend out sometimes. So to those who are going without booze, here are some tips to help you tap the full potential of your sober night out.

1. First and foremost: have fun. That old cliche, “you don’t have to drink to have a good time,” as crazy as it sounds, is absolutely true.

I’ll admit, the first few nights I walked into a bar, I felt lost. At first it may feel like there isn’t anything for you to do there. You don’t go straight to the bar like your friends. You just sort of — stand there.

Don’t do that anymore. Go dance, go mingle, go talk to somebody about their shoes or something.

Just be social. Have a good time.

Nobody is judging you. Nobody is watching you dance. Nobody cares. Unless you’re that bad of a dancer, which people are going to make fun of you for either way.

2. Take this opportunity to be the most hydrated you’ve ever been IN YOUR LIFE.

Rarely do people walk out of a bar healthier than when they walked in. Except for you, such an iconic pillar of fitness. This is your chance to drink so much water you single-handedly elongate the California drought.

Here’s the challenge. Bartenders aren’t ever too stoked to keep pouring water. Most are cool about it, but I’ve encountered plenty that give me that don’t-be-wasting-my-time look after I order water.

I get it. They have 187 drunken 20-somethings with their arms outstretched and the bartender has to serve all of them. So when the kid in the cardigan asks for a water, it’s only natural that there’s going to be some slight animus.

Here’s an alternative. Buy a drink and get a water along with it because if you’re ordering just water all night, you really do suck. You’re not a paying customer, so you’re keeping the bartender from making money for the bar.

Buy a beer, a shot, something, and give it to a friend or that girl you’ve been talking to. (Don’t give it to a random girl. Try not to make girls think you’re drugging them).

3. Don’t get roped into being the designated driver every time. That sucks.

There are ways to avoid lugging your friends and their friends up and down the Esplanade all night while they try to keep from puking in the backseat of your car.

First, they can get a cab. The beautiful part of being sober is that you can just go home whenever.

Second, they can get a cab. Are we clear? Offering to be the designated driver is like feeding a raccoon. Do it once, and they always come back. Don’t get stuck hauling five belligerent, drunk raccoons all over town. Just say no.

But if you are feeling charitable and offer to take everyone home at the end of the night, which I usually do, there’s one way to ease the pain.

Don’t drive your car. Drive your friend’s car. He drives a 2015 BMW and you whip a ‘96 Chevy Cavalier. His car has an auxiliary jack. You have one of those cassette player converters that plays music out of one blown-out speaker on the passenger side. If you’re going to get stuck being the taxi service, you might as well enjoy it.

All in all, if you’re sober at the bar, you don’t have to be miserable. With or without alcohol in your system, you ARE the party. So get up on the dance floor you animal.

Oh man. OK. Wow — yikes, never mind. Get off the dance floor.

Dylan de Wit can be reached at [email protected] or @DylanTdeWit on Twitter.