London Launches First Alcohol Free Club Night

It’s a cold Tuesday night and the lobby of the Ace Hotel in London is buzzing with people. There’s a row of men at a bench, fervently tapping away on their MacBook’s. The sofas are filled with tourists and businessmen alike, laden with luggage. A little further round and there’s a DJ spinning some sweet, reggae sounds, as clusters of friends chatter and sip cocktails. Probably not the kind of place you’d associate with sobriety of any kind.

I’m here to meet Charlie Kelly and Tommy Taylor. The duo behind Love Is Key (LIK)- London’s first sober club night. As the guys bounce off each other, cracking jokes and generally loving life, my eyes scan the room. It’s a rather odd setting, surrounded by people delving into their second or third bottle of wine, as we sit discussing sober clubbing over a bottle of Ace’s finest mineral water.

Sober clubbing has started to become a bit of a global phenomenon of late. The talk has mainly focused on the pre-work raves, those that draw comparisons with exercise classes, rather than actual raves. The two of note being Morning Glory, here in London, and Daybreaker- the one that’s swept across the US, taking Los Angeles and New York by storm. But it’s these very events that have set a precedent for healthy clubbing, attracting reformed partygoers and people who simply want to dance their face off, rather than chew their face off.

So, tell us about where the idea for LIK spawned from?

Tommy- A few years ago I decided to stop drinking ‘cause it didn’t feel like fun anymore. I’d been going to all these parties, but I never remembered any of them, so I thought I’d see what it was like to stop drinking and that’s how I got to see how much more exciting things were when I could actually enjoy them…..I wanted to try and create a platform for people to go out and have a great time and not drink…..[I wanted] to create an amazing space where people feel comfortable to dance and not feel the pressure of drinking.

Charlie- Yeah, I also gave up drinking quite a few years ago as I wanted to experience life to the full really, without the barrier of substances…..and I still totally love dancing…..[I found] there was just nowhere to go where I could know that the person that I was gonna talk to would be on the same level as me…..So LIK was a really great opportunity to create a place where you can come and know that everybody’s gonna be on the same vibe….it’s more to do with being ok with where you’re at, rather than putting things inside you to change the way you feel.

Talk me through what someone can expect from the night.

T- [You’ll] be given the opportunity to really tune in to the music without being pushed around or being too drunk to take in what’s going on around you. Everyone that’s coming is coming for the first time so it’s gonna be a completely new experience for everyone. And we’ve selected some amazing DJs, so we know we won’t fail on that aspect. I think we’re creating a beautiful environment that’s attracting people that really love music, and clubbing is about the music. I dunno when it happened that drugs and alcohol took that away.

What’s the music vibe going to be?

T- It’s more of a techy, house vibe for this one.

What’s the response been like?

T- A few baffled faces, but it’s good ‘cause it gets people thinking.
C- Yeah, it’s a challenging concept for a lot of people, but it’s also been really well received. They’re like “oh, wow. That’s very ‘un-normal’ but I like the sound of it”. I think we’re going to be typically seeing a lot of 20-somethings coming through who appreciate music. We’ve got some really fantastic underground DJs from London and Berlin coming for the launch. It’s going to be real music appreciators coming through.

What do you think about the state of present day clubbing?

T- We want people to get high on vitamins rather than ketamine. That’s just a part of the culture, and [we’ve got] nothing against that culture, we’re just trying to create a more positive [one].
C- Yeah, it’s not that you have to be fully sober to come into our events, this is just an alternative. If the weekend of that month they don’t fancy going out and getting fucked up, but they still wanna go and dance, this is that alternative.
T- We’re not trying to like turn everyone sober…we just want to give them something special and something healthy, and maybe change the way they see things a little bit.

Any nights you’ve had out where you’ve woken up and thought “I wish I’d not drank last night”?

T- A lot! They were more like weeks out, rather than nights out. My most embarrassing one was my Mum coming downstairs and me being asleep on the kitchen floor. Butt naked.

What have you got planned for the future?

C- I mean, considering we haven’t done an event, the amount of attention and the amount of clubs asking us if we’ll be doing our event with them in the future is astonishing. We want to try and stay true to our brand and what underground dance music means to us, but it’ll be international in a few months I should imagine.

And what would you say to people who might have slight reservations about being completely sober?

C- Don’t, don’t have reservations just, you know, try it.

Photography by Jennifer Claire Wallis (@Miss_Jen_C)

Love Is Key launches this Saturday at Kachette in East London’s Shoreditch. For tickets and more info, head over to their Facebook page