Everyone here is anonymous: how I learnt to party sober

Last year 30-something social media whizz and party girl, Polly, made the decision to give up drink and drugs. Six months on, she's survived festival season, a Vegas wedding and countless nights out without once wavering. Think maybe sobriety is for you? Or just want to take a break from the booze? She shares her tips for how to party sober.

There was a time when I didn’t even think it would be humanly possible to go to a gig, festival, party, date or dinner without drinking or taking drugs.

When I made the decision to be sober, I was determined to never compromise on my life. I really like my life: I get to go to loads of fun things, with loads of fun people but I’ll be honest, a lot of that was based around drinking and taking really rubbish drugs.

Think about your time at a festival in percentages and it’s broken down a little like this: 40% of your time is spent organising, taking, locating drugs. 30% of your time queuing at bars that are filled with people waiting to buy very overpriced booze. 10% of your time is spent looking for your mates and organising where to meet which leaves only 20% of your time for the actual festival which you’ve paid money for. Food? I used to lose half a stone at Glastonbury, eating wasn’t even on my agenda.

When you go to a festival and DON’T drink or take drugs, at first, it feels weird. It’s like you’re a little lost at a party. The day/evening is no longer broken down into these rituals: go to the bar, buy drinks, find a safe spot to take something, so you feel a little bit like you’re twiddling your thumbs. But it’s easy to forget that there’s so much more to festivals than getting fucked up.

Last summer I was asked to go and cover a festival for a beauty brand.  I took one of my best friends Ben with me (also sober and also liked to party hard in a previous life). Brilliantly, we got given £200 expenses for “drinks and food”. Trying to spend that much money at a festival when you aren’t drinking is amazingly fun. We explored every inch of the site, we danced to bands, we went on rides, we got stupid tattoos, we tried out the oxygen bar, we lay on hammocks, we went to the vintage stalls, we were so excited about what food we were going to eat, we got ice-cream with flakes, we went on the dodgems. We squeezed in everything we possibly could. Just because we had both made the decision to not drink it didn’t mean we had to have a miserable time. Now, I can safely say it was so much fun. Sure, it’s an adjustment, but we had no four-day comedown, no ruined bank balance (of course, the expenses helped with that one), and we laughed all day long. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had amazing times at festivals off my tits and I don’t regret any of the little adventures we got up to. I’ve ended up in so many hilarious scenarios and surreal moments  and I’m never going to be a person who says nobody should ever do drink or drugs  but it’s also so great to know that the fun I have at a festival isn’t only because of that. And it is, really important for me to know that. The enjoyment isn’t taken away at any gig or event because you don’t drink, there’s a whole load of other fun to find and half the adventure is seeking it out.

How I learnt to Party Sober Polly O'Connell

It can be difficult at first and, like I said, you feel a little restless and there are only so many soft sugary drinks you can have before you start to climb the walls. I always feel like the only person in the entire festival, gig or bar asking for a coffee, but if you can get your paws on one, do it!

I heard someone the other saying they were doing dry January but not on (then proceeded to list dates of events etc that they’d exempt themselves) it’s funny how we don’t even really entertain the idea of going to a friend’s birthday, a wedding or a festival without drinking, like it’s not even an option. I would say for no other reason than a personal experiment try it at least once, just so you know you’re not a boring fucker without the booze, that you can still have fun, hold your own in a conversation, still pull a fit boy (or girl) and enjoy the gig!

Some tips:

* Say : “I don’t drink” rather than “I’m not drinking tonight”. The latter gives people an OK to try and persuade you.

* Go out with people who you ACTUALLY enjoy the company of, the less you drink, the more you’ll realise who those people are.

* Leave when you feel like it. When you get bored, go. It’s at that point your party should be over, drink or no drink. The amount of times I’ve drunk through the boredom and ended up spending time, money and precious serotonin on a below-average night, is more than I’d care to think about.

Follow the rest of Polly’s blog ‘Everyone here is Anonymous‘ and follow her on Instagram.