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August 21, 2014 7:57 PM   Subscribe

"A great nightclub with amazing DJs, virgin drinks made with love, and hopefully an exciting atmosphere. It will be just like any club in Berlin, London, or Ibiza - minus the drunks." Stockholm's new nightclub Sober.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (49 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
All the best to to Mårten Andersson, it sounds like he's completely serious about keeping it absolutely sober.
How will you control alcohol consumption in your club?
We will have a breathalyzer at the door. If you’re slightly drunk you will have to take a walk around the block. No one gets in if the machine reacts to their breath.
This makes me think of going to Fabric in London, being so excited to go that I walked a few miles to get there, only to find it packed with people smoking and drinking, at the same time. Packed dance floor, OK, kind of hard to dance. Packed dance floor where people can spill booze on you and possibly burn you with their lit cigarettes? Super suck.

I wonder what Mr. Scurff's extended tea parties are like. I know he serves/served tea at some of his afternoon sets, but I don't seem to see anything about the inclusion or exclusion of alcohol recently.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:33 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I think this guy has great intentions, and I completely agree that clubbing culture is very problematic, and that no doubt the booze plays a big role in exacerbating the problems.

But I am dubious that this will really work (yeah yeah, two comments in and I'm being That MetaFilter Person), and not because I personally can only barely stand to be in a night club with no less than three whiskies, just to tolerate the place. You know, we used to have places like this in Iowa, for the straight edge kids, of which I was once one (you know the type - converse shoes, lots of hand made jewelry, dyed hair, ska band t-shirts, a lot of patches and buttons and checkered clothing). And in my experience in both these and the more cocaine-fueled places, there are only three things I have seen that will get that collective-joy-dancing-going-crazy thing happening at a club that makes a club a club: booze, drugs, or jesus. You get a lot of sober atheists at a club and what you get is a few minutes of complaining before a resolution to leave. So in Sweden, I don't know how this will play out.

Now that doesn't mean I don't think it would be nice if it did work out. Seems like such a well-meaning, all around nice thing. And it would be nice if music alone was enough for people. But you know they used to have concerts without drugs and it was called mass so. I just...it takes a bit of induced happiness to get folks to enjoy that kind of thing, doesn't it?
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:54 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


One of the most awesome parties in the 90s in NYC was an all-ages alcohol-free space. It was so full of E and acid that no one noticed the absence of alcohol, and at closing time everyone got free bagels and orange juice and it was pretty rad.

I don't get the feeling that this is going to be the same sort of thing.
posted by elizardbits at 9:02 PM on August 21 [24 favorites]


Anyone who has ever been a designated driver knows that being in a nightclub whilst sober is a reasonable approximation of the 4th circle of hell.

But hey, horses for courses. Good luck to the guy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:08 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Sorted for teas and juice
posted by Flashman at 9:14 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I've been to more than a few alcohol-free dance events that were fantastic, but there was a lot of rolling and tripping going on. Like elizardbits I don't see that happening at this club.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:14 PM on August 21


Yeah, in the article it says that no type of intoxication will be tolerated.

E-only raves and parties are awesome, perhaps even the best parties, but this is not what that is.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:16 PM on August 21


From TFA:

Q: Don’t you think people will be doing drugs instead?

A: That's something we have to be really careful about. We will have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of intoxication.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:16 PM on August 21


That sound was Stefon's head exploding.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:37 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


I considered opening a club like this, 30 years ago; I'm glad someone has finally done it! The concept is going to be HUGE!
posted by Vibrissae at 9:46 PM on August 21


So, what they're saying here, really, is one of two things will happen:

1) They'll be closed in under a month, or

2) The local dealers will make a fucking killing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:46 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


They need a New Order to fund them.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:53 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


20 Euro water bottles, drugged out ravers, and clueless wanderers from the nearby clubs who just flushed 40 euros in entry fees down the drain, along with their dignity after the security check. Sounds like a fine old time!
posted by Yowser at 10:08 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Sorry, make that 20 and 40 Krona.
posted by Yowser at 10:09 PM on August 21


sounds like a sXe time
posted by raihan_ at 10:23 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


20kr = around $3. Probably not what you meant :)
posted by beerbajay at 10:24 PM on August 21


I didn't drink at all until after I had already been going to nightclubs for several years. I'm pretty sure if the music's good and the space is good, I could enjoy an event there.

But still it seems like it would be pretty difficult to get this to work. Because drinks are where the money is. And I think the number of clubgoers who will be attracted by the the sober environment is smaller than the number who would rather go somewhere where they can drink shitty nightclub drinks.
posted by aubilenon at 10:24 PM on August 21


Here in San Francisco, the latest new thing is the early morning dance party. There are even two of them: Daybreaker and Morning Gloryville. Both are sober. It costs about $20 or $25, depending on when you buy your ticket, and there's coffee and fruit juices. The parties sell out and they are packed.

I've been to Daybreaker a few times and it's a great experience--I always feel so much happier afterwards. I'm too old for nightclubs, but I love going to dayclubs. And even my friends who like to get wasted are surprised by how much they enjoy just dancing to good music.

While people might be doing drugs that early in the morning, I'd be surprised--the whole thing shuts down at 930am and then we all roll into the office.

Props to Stockholm and this particular organizer for trying to do this at night.
posted by so much modern time at 10:34 PM on August 21 [12 favorites]


maybe, instead of having to change patrons' brain chemistry so they can stand being at a nightclub, he's changing his nightclub so it appeals to sober people looking to have fun? less volume and tastelessness, more conversation and melodic music to dance to. it's not impossible -- i went to nerd/geek parties in college where we all happily bounced around to tmbg together.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:10 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Early raves and house parties - and a lot of early electronic dance culture - was basically totally alcohol-free. I never saw bars. Even at totally renegade parties where basically anything goes I only rarely saw someone bring beer or alcohol. Alcohol was deeply (and rightly) frowned upon as not just toxic, but really boring.

That's something that changed as rave/house left the warehouses and started going to legit clubs to escape the police crackdown on renegade, unlicensed parties.

On the other hand, sobriety wasn't actually happening either. LSD, MDMA, cannabis and nitrous was basically everywhere, and god knows what else. I'm sure there was meth or amphetamine or coke or other stimulants going on that I wasn't aware of. And instead of a bar they had nitrous vendors and dealers that were commonly the profit centers of the party. There's a fuckton of profit available in nitrous or doling out bulk blotter acid at $5-10 a tab when your cost may be less than a dollar per tab in quantity, and nitrous in bulk tanks was even more profitable.

Of the two options, I'd take the latter. The atmosphere was much more cerebral, caring and much less sloppy than a club with a bar - if frequently too intense or confusing. But you had much less of a problem with potential violence, unwanted sexual attention and random dudebros there just to drink and try to hook up with people.

That being said, it pains me to say that the latter option is definitely a younger person's domain. You can't just drop a tab of acid and dance for an hour or two. It's a 8-12 hour marathon commitment, and a major bummer if the party gets busted and you suddenly have to negotiate reality.

And all that being said, sober dance parties are awesome. One of the smarter maxims from back in the day was to ask yourself "Would I enjoy this party and music if I was completely sober?" and if the answer was yes, you were in the right place. If the answer was no, it's a shitty dance party.

But you really have to get over the whole idea of being self-conscious about dancing. If you approach it with the "dance like no one is watching" concept, and/or think about it more like an aerobics class, you can get crazy runner's highs from dancing yourself silly to some good music.
posted by loquacious at 12:00 AM on August 22 [7 favorites]


If you approach it with the "dance like no one is watching" concept...

That seems to be the idea behind No Lights, No Lycra. It's a dance party in the dark; you can bop however you want, and because no one can see you, no one can judge.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:03 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I also can't figure out how it's going to make enough profit to stay afloat.

I was under the impression that bars and clubs make most of their money from selling wildly overpriced alcohol to people who are not sober enough to use better judgement. So I feel like this guy is missing the basics of his business model.
posted by Salamander at 12:28 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Reading between the lines of the article, I don't think this is an actual club but a club night in an existing venue. If you are a Venue that needs to be open and full every weekend there is no way the economics of this work.


However, it sounds like what he is organising is not a permanent venue but an occasional club night (where they hire the venue) in a normal club but with a $30/dollar entrance. That is much more manageable proposition and I can see how that would make sense once a month or whatever.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:57 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


they should add religion into the Sober club night, to kick it up a notch
posted by Bwithh at 1:05 AM on August 22


So I don't know anything about this club, but the last time this guy was getting a lot of press was when he proclaimed, in a mail to a bunch of female comedians, that it was pointless to book female comedians since nobody wants to pay anything to see them.

When one of them posted about it on tumblr, he got her fired from a consulting job, banned her from his clubs, took to twitter to proclaim that she was mentally unstable, before finally deciding to apologize a few days later...

...so yeah, at least he knows how to produce headlines.
posted by effbot at 2:37 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]


metafilter: a major bummer if the party gets busted and you suddenly have to negotiate reality.
posted by el io at 2:46 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]


Does this allow patrons to bring their kids?
posted by oceanjesse at 3:46 AM on August 22


maybe, instead of having to change patrons' brain chemistry so they can stand being at a nightclub, he's changing his nightclub so it appeals to sober people looking to have fun? less volume and tastelessness, more conversation and melodic music to dance to.

Also: board games.
posted by acb at 3:51 AM on August 22


So I don't know anything about this club, but the last time this guy was getting a lot of press was when he proclaimed, in a mail to a bunch of female comedians, that it was pointless to book female comedians since nobody wants to pay anything to see them.

Not disproving my prejudice here that those who loudly insist on the sobriety of others [1] are always douchebags. There's of course also something classically fascist about this insistence.

[1] it's fine if you want to stay sober yourself or don't like drinking or whatever, but once you start insisting that you don't like booze and neither should I, you're well on your way to douchebagging.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:22 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


maybe, instead of having to change patrons' brain chemistry so they can stand being at a nightclub, he's changing his nightclub so it appeals to sober people looking to have fun? less volume and tastelessness, more conversation and melodic music to dance to.

>Also: board games.

I believe y'all have just described Wednesday night down at the local nursing home. Woop woop!
posted by hap_hazard at 4:23 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I think a lot depends on how many people want to go dancing sober. In a large city, with the right planning, it might work. For a while I was helping organize a series of benefit events which were de facto sober until about 11pm, because the nerdier part of the crowd would show up early to dance and then leave when it got later and drunkier. (I personally don't really drink and love to dance, but I'm an outlier.)

I think the key part will be getting really good DJs, preferably people who do a lot more than just play whatever is current. You'd definitely need to be bringing a lot of super-duper danceable songs of the Janelle Monae variety, for instance, to make sure that everyone was just pulled onto the dance floor.

And the thing is, if you arrange your space right, you can play pretty loud music but not have it be too loud for conversation in various parts of the space. We just had a big ol' warehouse space - and it sure wasn't me setting up the sound system - but somehow it was arranged such that the dancefloor was loud but not earsplitting but you could have a conversation in the other end of the space. If we'd had a permanent space with the ability to have walls and/or other sound baffles, it could have been even better.

It seems like some folks think that no one can have actual authentic enjoyment without being drunk or high, and you're boring if you don't want to partake. I think it's kind of weird and sad, myself, to only be able to dance when you've knocked a few back. The thing is, although I love dancing and will gladly dance with folks who are drinking, taking E, whatever, drinking in particular does bring its own problems - people throwing up, people throwing elbows, various forms of creepy assholism - that also interfere with enjoyment, even if the actual drunk people are having an awesome time.

The main problem with a sober space, IME, is that booze is where the money is. I suppose that's why the $25/ticket dance parties for rich tech people with flexible work schedules* have to cost $25. We were $5, but there was an assumption that a lot of people would buy drinks.

*See, those sound so fun but it also really frosts me that it's one more thing for rich tech people - not just because of the cost, but because what regular working person has that flexible a schedule and the ability to shower and change at work? I'd have to have a pre-dawn dance party and go home to change, because I'm a pink collar worker.
posted by Frowner at 5:12 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Also: board games.

This is a joke, right?

I've been sober for six months. It’s great—I’ve never felt better. I’m so much calmer these days. I feel better, I look better, and my self-esteem has never been this high. I’m proud of myself in a way I’ve never been before.

He sounds like he has the fervency of the newly-converted (plus being a promoter, obviously); I'd be curious how his take on all this changes over the coming years.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:25 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I got sober when I was 21 and before that I was painfully shy (read: clinically depressed) so I have only ever danced sober. AA, especially young people's groups, used to have a lot of dances in church basements and that is where I started. There is an amazing new year's eve dance in SoHo every year with great music and just a lot of fun.

When I was in my late 20s I spent a few years in Hong Kong and would go out dancing most Saturday nights and kept it up when was back in New York City for a while. Then I wasn't old, I was just too old to be in the club as a great man once said.
posted by shothotbot at 5:25 AM on August 22


Early raves and house parties - and a lot of early electronic dance culture - was basically totally alcohol-free.

Legend has it that David Mancuso's early Loft parties were totally alcohol free (tho it was also word-of-mouth-invitation only). Allegedly, only fruit juice and snacks were available at The Loft (along with, presumably, whatever substances the guests consumed before arriving).

Of course the distinction here is between running a business and throwing a party. The latter's always going to be much easier to do on a nonalcoholic basis than the former.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:13 AM on August 22


There's a Morning Gloryville early-morning club/rave in Dublin, too. Don't know if it's linked to the Frisco one.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:39 AM on August 22


Yeah, we've had a sober venue here in Liverpool for two or three years now. It isn't my thing, but a lot of my recovering friends find it a valuable resource.

How is it funded? Major subsidies from various drug treatment budgets. Though the director of the charity that runs it tells me that they're on schedule to be self-supporting -- personally, I'm sceptical. But that's mostly because they tend to use a lot more staff/resources than a regular bar/club would. Their vision is somewhat bigger than that.

Re. the Loft -- I've been to a lot of clubs that were alcohol free. Back in the day, anywhere that wanted to put on an all-nighter wouldn't be able to get an alcohol licence.

That didn't mean they were drug free though. If anything, the drugs were generally the whole point.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:39 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


they should add religion into the Sober club night, to kick it up a notch

And have the pastor go all nine o'clock service on your young ass.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:45 AM on August 22


Religion? Then you need ... The Big Love Inflatable Church!
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:48 AM on August 22


When one of them posted about it on tumblr, he got her fired from a consulting job, banned her from his clubs, took to twitter to proclaim that she was mentally unstable, before finally deciding to apologize a few days later...

may angry weasels savage his taint.
posted by elizardbits at 8:40 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


"When one of them posted about it on tumblr, he got her fired from a consulting job"

I have missed this news, where can I find more about that? How could he get her fired?
posted by dabitch at 8:53 AM on August 22


elizardbits: One of the most awesome parties in the 90s in NYC was an all-ages alcohol-free space. It was so full of E and acid that no one noticed the absence of alcohol, and at closing time everyone got free bagels and orange juice and it was pretty rad.

After my sister went to her first rave, she said "I understand why you like that music!" Then i told her that I listen to my weird electronic music stone cold sober, and it still makes me go all buzzy and weird. She didn't believe me.

Which is to say, I can understand that sober parties might be a hard sell, especially when you're actually a huge asshole.

dabitch: I have missed this news, where can I find more about that? How could he get her fired?

Here's a crude Google Auto-translation of an extended exchange, and there are some screencaps of tweets that aren't auto-translated of course. I'm not sure if this captured the whole debacle, maybe effbot or someone else can elaborate.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on August 22


I absolutely adored my time at a Rainbow Gathering, a sort of open-air festival where alcohol is not tolerated. To the best of my understanding, it seemed the only "rules" were "no alcohol" and "no exchange of money."
The food was principally vegetarian, I had to walk miles to get from kitchen to kitchen, and the lack of electricity gave the whole thing a very peaceful vibe.
My dear friend and I packed in a small bottle of bourbon because, "how the hell can we possibly enjoy a festival without a little whiskey?"
We ended up completely forgetting about it and never even cracked the bottle.

It was the only festival experience I've ever been to where I can honestly say that I left healthier than when I arrived.

I hope his sober dance club is a smashing success and I hope we can continue to create fun, alcohol-free spaces - not because I'm against drinking - but because the culture of drinking often overpowers the creative energy that would otherwise be able to blossom.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:20 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


may angry weasels savage his taint.

Rzzzzz!
posted by octobersurprise at 10:00 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm on the bandwagon that this could be nice if "no other intoxicants" means "better be able to stand unassisted and not get in the way" and not "we're gonna take a real close look at your pupils."
posted by atoxyl at 10:07 AM on August 22


It will be just like any club in Berlin, London, or Ibiza - minus the drunks.

So just people off their tits on ecstasy, then.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Thanks filthy light thief, I speak Swedish, and having read all that I'm not at all surprised that Amalia decided to no longer use KA as their consultant. Not sure how I missed this twitter-beef.
posted by dabitch at 12:01 PM on August 22


Yeah, you know what's not fun when you're not drunk? Nightclubs.
posted by stenseng at 1:12 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


E-only raves and parties are awesome, perhaps even the best parties

similar to the comment above about being the designated driver at a nightclub, I can tell you being the one sober at such a party is far, far worse than drunk people at a club. Ew, everybody acting all gross and feel-y.
posted by Hoopo at 2:23 PM on August 22


I got sober once. Didn't care for it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:49 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


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