The Gryphon explores the growing trend of teetotalism amongst today’s students.
When you think of Freshers Week, it’s impossible to avoid images of Jagerbombs, vomit, and the sticky VK stained steps of Fruity. But this might not always be the case. The Office for National Statistics found that 16-24 year olds are less likely to drink alcohol than other age groups. While this group is still the most likely to binge drink, more than a quarter identified themselves as teetotallers.
So why are more and more young people turning their back on alcohol, and what does this mean for the future of student nightlife? Many millennials base their decision to go alcohol-free on health reasons. Participants in Dry January grow every year and the vast majority of these come from a young age group. As mindfulness and healthy living becomes increasingly important to the younger generation, heavy drinking is a less attractive option.
The after effects of drinking are also influencing students’ choices to abstain, as losing every weekend to a hangover can be seen as an uncomfortable waste of precious time. Not to mention, the additional added pressure on millennials to secure a good job after uni has seen many undergraduates prioritising their 9am seminars ahead of a night out with their flatmates.
“There is a growing demand from international and domestic students for non-alcoholic events. A lot of students find these events provide a better environment for socialising without the pressure of drinking”
Rachael Davies is a halls event coordinator at the University of Leeds. She spoke to The Gryphon about the non-alcohol themed events the university is organising for Freshers.
“Events this year include a grub crawl, The Big Night in, a halls sports cup and day trips to the surrounding area. There is a growing demand from international and domestic students for
non-alcoholic events. A lot of students find these events provide a better environment for socialising without the pressure of drinking.”
With an increase in non-alcoholic events, being teetotal no longer means missing out on some of the student experience. In previous years, while the majority of events may have been themed around drinking, many societies are now organising a range of events to reflect all their members’ interests.
Amy, a fresher at the University of Leeds said, ‘Although I’m not a teetotaller, I find that I can often form more meaningful relationships with people when drinking’s not involved. It can be hard to have a deep conversation when both people are drunk.”
“ The After Glow promises to be a glowing event that leaves you without a hangover, inspired to follow your passions”
Interestingly, the Union held quite possibly its very first non-alcoholic club night on Monday: The After Glow. Hosted by Innersense Guru, the night provided good vibes, yoga highs and amazing entertainment for all who attended. The night offered students an open, friendly atmosphere to meet new people, get to know the Leeds community and have a great night with some lovely tunes, food and drink. Held in Pyramid Theatre, and without even a drop of vodka being spilt, it brought the Leeds community right into the heart of the Union and its vibrant nightlife scene, showing us that our nights out may not always need to involve alcohol.
The Gryphon spoke to some attendees at The After Glow event:
“Last night was an amazing evening and I was practically floating when I went home. I hope there will be lots more events like The Afterglow throughout the year!”
“Thanks for putting on an excellent alternative evening, it was much appreciated – I look forward to the next one.”
We also spoke to the event’s organiser, Chelsey of Innersense Guru, to explore the ethos behind the innovative club night, and its inclusive elements of openness and community:
“The After Glow is not about promoting the teetotal life. By removing alcohol, a norm of socialising in the evening, we can create a space to question and look deeper- at ourselves and society.
“The intention of the evening hopes to stimulate important conversations that hopefully will expand our individual consciousness and our global consciousness through the new connections, relationships, networks or simply one-off powerful encounters experienced from these special conversations and meetings.
“Community doesn’t mean you have to be friends with everyone, but have compassion and respect everyone, help those who need it and have the ability to come together in person to stand by our values, not just behind a screen or at a protest but because we want to be together- to unite.
“In this way, The After Glow promises to be a glowing event that leaves you without a hangover, inspired to follow your passions, with lots of new like-minded friends and connections, feeling part of a growing creative community in Leeds.”
“ By removing alcohol, a norm of socialising in the evening, we can create a space to question and look deeper- at ourselves and society.”
With LUU providing an alternative and non-alcoholic club night, perhaps we are changing the way that we choose to go on nights out, and moving towards nights that incorporate activities geared towards bettering our wellbeing, allow conscious connection and, of course, reject the stereotypical ‘necessity’ of alcohol.
While it might not be time to worry about a VK ban at Fruity, it is evident that there is a growing trend towards teetotalism that could change the landscape of student socialising.
For more information about The After Glow and more events to come, visit:
Esther Marshall and Stephanie Uwalaka