One year ago a ‘more relaxed, inspirational and fun’ alternative to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was launched in Margate by music industry veteran Ronnie Traynor.
Best known as Ronnie Tee, the talent manager who has worked at dance label Distinct’ive Records and Groove Armada, wanted to create a space for people cutting alcohol out of their lives – for whatever reason – but without the secrecy and the rules and formality.
Sober Social was born last May, based at the also newly opened Self & Sea mental health wellbeing business in Cliftonville’s Northdown Road.
One year on and the social is going strong and Ronnie, who lives in Margate, now plans to open SoBar – offering alcohol-free beers, spirits, cocktails and more from an Airstream trailer – at Dreamland this Summer.
Ronnie, 49, has been five years sober and says had there been a Social Sober club before she would have done it sooner.
She said: “A year ago I had an idea to create an alternative – not a replacement- for AA, something less formal, less rules and more inspirational and fun.
“I was dragged kicking and screaming to AA. I got something out of it but it was all so secretive. I wanted to create something accessible and reflective.”
Self & Sea, offering therapy on the high street in a relaxed venue, was the perfect spot for the group which now meets there every Wednesday evening.
Ronnie said: “It’s very relaxed. You can drop in, have a chat, it’s lovely. Lots of people who are new to the area come along. People say they had given up drinking and felt like they had no social life but we also have a one or two monthly night out to a pub or a restaurant and people can get used to going out without the alcohol.
“There are also going to be activities people can do to relieve stress, meditation, Pilates, dance, lots of different stress relieving activities for times that you might have used alcohol for. The first one will be Pilates and Kundalini meditation on Saturday, May 13.”
And, of course, there will be the SoBar launch so people can still enjoy a special drink when they are out, just without the alcohol.
Ronnie said: “It is in an Airstream and I’ll be trying it out at Dreamland. People will be able to have an interesting, alcohol free drink. They might have given up alcohol or be the designated driver and not want orange or lemonade. We have free kegs of Luck Saint (lager) or alcohol free gin or cocktails. Maybe, if it goes well, we can wheel it out to festivals.”
The test run will be at the Creative Festival and Awards at the park on July 12-13.
Sober Social meets at Self & Sea, 468a Northdown Road, on Wednesdays 6.30pm.
Find Sober Social on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/sosobersosocial/?hl=en