Can you have a good night out without drinking alcohol?

It may be strongly associated with students, but is going out, drinking and getting drunk really the key to a good night out, or can you still have fun sober?

Yes, says Brooke Charlesworth

I was 14 when I had my first alcoholic drink. My Dad had thrown a party, and I’d been allowed to invite some friends. We sat on my bed, alcopops in hand, giggling and trying to cover up our apprehension. I took a sip of my drink. It tasted horrible, and left a burning sensation in the back of my throat.

Downstairs, men and women were swaying about, flirting, dancing terribly, planting clumsy kisses on the lips of people they’d only just met. I pushed through the crowd, horrified. At that moment, I knew I never wanted to become like them.

That was the last time I drank alcohol – and it’s been the most liberating decision I’ve ever made.

I’m not saying this is the way to be; I’m just saying it’s an option. Unfortunately, it’s an option which most university students don’t even consider, as peer pressure and the fear of being shunned take over.

However, many of my friends didn’t even realise that I don’t drink alcohol until we were several weeks into uni. I like to think that I’m sociable enough not to need the confidence boost which alcohol provides.

One advantage of being teetotal is that I don’t break the bank every time I go out. Soft drinks are often half the price of alcoholic ones, which means that I can afford to do things I do like, such as clothes shopping and eating out.

I also don’t feel as guilty when eating unhealthy food, as I save calories by not drinking alcohol. (Did you know that one pint of beer has the same nutritional value as a cheeseburger?)

A lot of people think that not drinking means not going out but there are plenty of alternatives.

I’ve been playing the guitar in pubs, bars and local venues since I was 14-years-old, and would rather go to a gig than a club any day. It seems logical to me; would you rather pay to stand in a crowded room, drink in hand, with music so loud that you can’t hold a conversation, or chill out at a free acoustic open mic night, chatting to your mates?

I understand that it would be naïve to try and persuade people to think like me. Students will always be students, and to most people, drinking will always be ‘the norm’. But maybe it’s worth a try, giving up alcohol even for a week – for your mind, your body and your university marks. You never know… you just might like it.

Do you need alcohol to have a good night out? Photo: Jekert Gwapo

No, says Dan Denman

This argument is had so many times over the three years that you’re at university. To sum it up, yes, you can have a good night out without having a drink. But you can’t have a great night without a drink. How many peoples’ stories when you came to university started with ‘we were in a club drinking Coke…’? Simply none.

When asking friends in a pub if they thought that you could have a good night without alcohol, one person replied, “there is an old saying; there are two things I can’t stand: a drunk person when I’m sober and someone sober when I am drunk”.

When you come to university everyone drinks, it is a social thing and nine times out of ten helps you meet people who you otherwise probably wouldn’t have. When you’ve had a drink you’re less shy, and therefore beer is a social lubricant.

Drinking, whilst it does have its downsides, has many positives too. As Frank Sinatra once said: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day”.

When you go out on a night out, what’s the worst that can happen? You could end up having sex with someone you just met; most couples you meet hooked up blind drunk anyway.

Everyone at university has drunken stories, most you’ll never forget. By drinking on a night out you make yourself more calm and relaxed, and as is everyone else, making it a better night out for you.

Drinking has become synonymous with student life. When you thought about university before you came, everyone will have told you about the nightlife. Drinking is much more than a pastime at university, it’s a rite of passage to get drunk as a student: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

6 Responses to Can you have a good night out without drinking alcohol?

  1. Marc says:

    It may be worth pointing out that a pint of beer does not have the same calorific value as a cheeseburger, and certainly not the fat content. Guinness for example contains around 200 calories per pint.

  2. Rich says:

    Sometimes I drink when I go out, sometimes I wont, depends on weather I can justify forking out for a taxi.

    Been invited to a mates birthday do, except its me and about 16 girls, so they said they want some girly time before they go out and get into a club for a while then invite me out once they are settled and meet them at 1am. Since I will be sober and they will be hammerd as I will be on my own and a £25 taxi ride away, I’m going to drive and stay sober, but will still have a good night out

  3. Lucy says:

    I came across this and found some views disturdbing and some comments (this was on my phone and i cant seem to find them on proper laptop) but quite disturbing. “Frank Sinatra once said I feel sorry for people who dont drink,when they wake up in the morning its the best there going to feel all day)………. Oh and “just as sober people dont like being around drunk people,drunk people dont like being around sober people” . . .as an addict myself (well recovering addict) i personally found these words discomforting. Dont worry,i wont come back, so theres no ned for comments like,well if you dont like it dont read it. I respect peoples choice to drink, and if i can do that . .why on earth cant people respect my choice not to??? Ive had to turn my whole life around and change my thinking and learn how to be confident without drink. Without being big headed here, but i know myself im not a bad looking girl,i dress well,and to outsiders they just cant understand why i needed to drink to be confident. Because i was pretty they asumed i was on top of the world! WRONG!! I was so miserable inside and although that first drink helped,the ones that led me to that dark place were hell. I have literally been to hell and back through drink and im only 27 years old. I guess this is a warning to others . . .Drink if you please, but please be careful. This illness crept up on me like a rattle snake in the bushes. I was brought up in a nice loving home,i never wanted for anything, yet somehow along the way,alcohol caught hold of me. And it nearly cost me my life, my friends and my family. And since doing my 12 steps to recover etc, ive realised that theres so many of you out there with a drink problem, you just dont know it. Its not NORMAL to NEED a drink to be sociable. Its NOT NORMAL to NEED a drink because you’ve had a bad day. Its not NORMAL to wake up and not remember your night . . .jesus,does nobody ever think, what was the point of that night if i dont even remember it??? There is none. Its not NORMAL to wake up beside a STRANGER you met in a bar. None of this is NORMAL sociable drinking behaviour. The sooner people realise this, the whole world would be a happier place xxx

  4. stuart says:

    i love the above comment i have drunk taken drugs, my whole life , my past i history of thinks that happened to my was repressed ,, drink as well a personal issues started to destroy my career friends, and the love of my life i havn’t drunk for 3 weeks and had my first night out clubbing cola , and some redull,,

    my confidence i growing i will drink again but its funny i think i had an even better night felt free-er and open to people , the above comment touched me , thank you for leaving it peace and love to you on your journey x

  5. Matt says:

    I’m a student and a recovering alcoholic and still have so much more fun without booze on nights out! Why do people need it to free up and dance, how tragic! And the same people who drink loads have a go at smokers for having an unhealthy habit! Guess what? Alcohol would’ve done me in at 25 if I’d carried on binging the way I did, try having delirium tremens, gastritis etc, if you’d seen what I’ve seen from alcohol none of you punks would go anywhere near that stuff let Lone drink it. Alcohol addiction at its worse is as bad as heroin addiction and will kill you quicker! The withdrawal from booze can kill u for christs sake! Evil, evil stuff.

  6. Michael Stokes says:

    I’m a final year student, I’ve just returned from placement year and on my return I thought I’d really go for it and so of course I did (I hadn’t been at Uni for a year). Anyway, I returned and went out and I had a bit of extra cash so I figured, we can go a little harder having the extra cash (Gin, Vodka, Jagermeister became quite normal along with the beers) along with the extra going out. My drinking increased, I got much more intoxicated and can safely say now at the end of the semester that I’ve made some questionable decisions, had some laughs and good times. There’s clearly a difference between having a few drinks to getting completely and utterly drunk (there’s a balance that should be struck I believe.)

    What does having a few drinks feel like?
    I feel relaxed, more comfortable and in a good place. I’m having fun and enjoying my self like that when I’m sober except from its heightened and I’m on a new level, its a release.

    What does having a few drinks to getting drunk feel like?
    My confidence and irrationality increases significantly. I become much more daring, I dance, chat without care. I become much more sociable.

    Moderation should be key, it shouldn’t be necessary to go over-board and get completely and utterly drunk just to have a good time (plus you’ll save some money). I would like to challenge my self one of the next times I go out to reduce my drinking down, and even to go out without drinking as such.