'Dry Dinners' Are The Newest Sober Gathering Trend

By Britni de la Cretaz 03/30/17

The dinner features delicious food along with activities like career life-coaching, tarot reading and a “cuddling sanctuary.” 

Friends having dinner around a big table.

Over the last few years, there’s been a rise in sober events that cater to a millennial crowd. The idea is to seek meaningful connections without booze, and to have fun while doing it. The latest of these are “dry dinners,” like the Conscious Family Dinner created by 26-year-old Ben Rolnik.

The dry dinner features delicious food, of course, along with career life-coaching, tarot reading, something called a “cuddling sanctuary,” and more. Rolnik’s focus is on helping the 200 attendees to create connections. “It’s like a journey more than a dinner,” he told the Associated Press.

The price of this journey is as low as $35—which seems pretty affordable to be able to attend an acro-yoga sex psychotherapy presentation, another of the offerings at Rolnik’s dinner events.

These Los Angeles dinners have proven so popular that they plan to expand nationwide. In this regard, they are following in the footsteps of Daybreaker, the sober dance party that began in New York and has popped up in cities all over the country, appearing in Miami for the first time earlier this year.

Daybreaker events provide a nightclub-like atmosphere, with dancing and DJs, but they take place at dawn, before work. Instead of beer and cocktails, attendees snack on breakfast foods, coffee, and juice. Tickets are also less than $35—sometimes as low as $20—and events boast as many as 500 people.

There’s also a sober alternative to bar crawls: the juice crawl. The New York City-based events invite participants to sample as many juices as they want, with no worries about over-imbibing or ending up with a hangover the next day. These events, too, seem to attract young people seeking to connect with others in an intentional way. The Guardian reports that attendees are looking for “real, authentic relationships” and want to remain “centered and calm to appreciate the day.”

Event company Bender hosts a variety of events, ranging from rooftop yoga pool parties to disco dance yoga parties. While not originally intended to be sober events, Bender founder Justin Henderson said he noticed that people weren’t really drinking much booze at the events so he stopped offering it.

Henderson told the Associated Press, “I’m just one part of a much, much bigger movement that’s happening. It’s not so much about whether alcohol is there or not ... people are just looking for ways to connect around things that they value and are passionate about.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.