January 29, 2020

Sober Scene Small But Growing

Places to play and party if you're avoiding alcohol
By Ross Boissoneau | Jan. 4, 2020

There are countless bars across the region, but indoor spots where people can socialize without alcohol around … ?
 
Turns out, they’re few and far between. Studio Anatomy in Traverse City is one. Brian Chamberlain started the underground hideaway as a recording studio but recognized he could include entertainment to help fill the space and the hours when it wasn’t in use and attract a much larger audience.

“I realized in 2012 there weren’t any all-age venues,” he said.
 
So he started one. His studio has hosted musicians, comics, and artists — all without a drink being served. “I didn’t want alcohol. There’s plenty of that,” Chamberlain said. Rather than having patrons come in for food or drink, he wanted to offer other reasons for people to come together.
 
The Porch Recovery Treatment Center, part of Traverse City’s Addiction Treatment Services, has been hosting weekly gatherings of football fans to watch Monday Night Football, sans alcohol, since fall.
 
In Petoskey, Tory Werth is heading up Recovery N.O.T.E.S. (New Opportunities To Enjoy Sobriety). The group, which he said is working to become a nonprofit, hosts a series of open mic nights for people in recovery, as well as their families and allies, at the Carnegie Building in downtown Petoskey. The events, which can include everything from poetry reading to rock, pop and rap music, or comedy, take place from 6:30pm to 8:30pm the second Sunday of each month.
 
“It’s a really fun jam session. We want to let people know there are other ways to have fun,” Werth said.
 
The program, which started about a year ago, has drawn between 100 and 150 people, more than anticipated. “At the first event, we were blown away by the standing room-only crowds. It’s still packed,” he said. It’s an opportunity for people in recovery to get engaged and do so in a healthy, supportive environment.
 
Madeline Begley, of the recovery support group Hope Not Handcuffs, said she and others have met with Werth in hopes of starting something similar, at Studio Anatomy. “We’re looking at doing a trivia night, maybe a Super Bowl party,” she said. Other possibilities include Karaoke, storytelling, a cook-off, battle of the bands, all without alcohol.
 
Matt Zerilli, who wears two hats, as a staffer at Addiction Treatment Services and a comedian, has performed at Studio Anatomy. He said the facility is a great site for what he calls “sober social clubs.” “As a comic, there is something special when the people are just coming out for the jokes,” he said.

Know of a fun event or venue you can go to let loose or be entertained without alcohol? Share the what, where, and when with other readers in the comment section below.

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