That Dublin Drinking Dilemma

July 23, 2014 – Culture
Nina Freer shakes out The.Fear and realises something that may benefit all of us.

Do sobriety and fun actually link?

In the aftermath of this year’s Life festival, from the bottom of my pit of misery and fast food I made the inevitable and very standard promise that most people recuperating from a shameless and unnecessary bender have the tendency to make – Not again. For a few weeks at least.

The bitter truth about these kinds of promises is that in the agony of our excesses the vast majority of us, shuddering at the thought of alcoholic beverages at this stage are inclined to make unrealistic promises to ourselves in terms of our sessioning.

In the first week, I felt a sense of moral achievement, sitting in the sunny environs of Trinity’s Pavilion, watching without judgement as my friends sipped those delicious pre-mixed cans of gin and tonic, myself sitting with one of those tame, coffee-less frappuchinos (because my logic was that if I couldn’t have alcohol, might as well replace those lost calories with a severe dollop of whipped cream on my drink). I sat soberly, picking at the picnic whilst thinking ‘This must be that great feeling those holy people must feel when taking part in religious abstinence. I can most certainly do this.’

I informed my closest friends of my new plans. Telling your friends is what seals you’re most personal of promises with the gloopiest and most daunting of hot waxes. Once you mention to your friends/better half your intention to lay off the booze, not go out for a while, refrain from the smoking of alternative cigarettes, your statement is cemented – it makes it harder for yourself to give in to ‘just the one’ during the week in your local. If you have nice and polite friends then they will be rooting for you, and wish you well in your journey of sobriety. If you have friends like mine, you’ll have no doubt that they will be secretly (or not so secretly) egging you on as you consider ordering that initial forbidden pint following your period of asceticism.

My complete and full self-restraint from alcohol resulted not only in less socializing, but also in a gorging on various luxuriant fast foods. My preference for beers had been overly replaced with a reliance on fun foods – foods that supply an immediate gratification but that before long, wrap around you feelings of self-hatred as you wipe the final smears of the Frank’s hot sauce off the sides of your mouth from the chicken wings that you couldn’t have needed any less.

The predictable end to this story is that I did not last very long off the booze – less than two weeks. Thinking very narrowly I persuaded myself that it is the culture that I live in – we Irish folk need to consume alcohol in order to speak to one another, tolerate the boredom of the same nightclubs we go to weekly and transgress beyond tedious small-talk with our work colleagues. This however, I’ve come to the conclusion, is not the reason I was unable to last very long without drinking.

This pattern I’ve noticed, going from weekends of alcoholic indulgence to living like abstinent monks at the misty top of a very high mountain is simply too problematic – the ricochet between the binary of over-excess to complete cold-turkey is not something human beings are very good at. It may seem obvious, but in order for the casual-weekly-drinker to cut down more generally, rather than have the repetitious cycle of the complete quit, the overboard weekend, the complete quit again, is to simply find more things to do other than mingle in the dark cave of Grogan’s weekly – which is why I have decided to write on two non-alcoholic events/activities monthly, in order to inform the public on the possibility of fun in Dublin minus the booze.


In my first few articles I plan to take a visit to the Happenings pop-up yoga in Dartmouth Square, I also have the intention (if not the courage) of attempting zorbing – the act of hurtling yourself down a hill in somewhat of a hamster sphere and I also will be acquiring my ticket for that Morning Glory rave that everyone’s so confused about.

Back shortly with the results!

Words: Nina Freer

Illustrations: Sarah Cunningham