Soirees Sans Alcohol

“It just isn’t done,” said four theater students in the Atrium cafe about throwing alcohol-free parties. While there are plenty of reasons to go without, skipping the liquor may leave some feeling a little lost

“It just isn’t done,” said four theater students in the Atrium cafe about throwing alcohol-free parties.

While there are plenty of reasons to go without, skipping the liquor may leave some feeling a little lost when planning a party.

Fear not; there are those who have found a way to have a successful party without drinking.

“A beverage should not be a factor in partying and having fun,” said party promoter Drew Henderson, 19, “and it isn’t at our parties.”

Henderson started ‘Till the Break of Dawn Entertainment with sophomore Quincy Ashlock, 19, last year.

With the exception of a private VIP section, Henderson and Ashlock’s parties are dry.

They say leaving out the liquor protects their reputation as a business and curbs problems that arise from drunkenness.

“If they start hitting the bottle, they may want to hit something else,” Henderson said.

Henderson and Ashlock aren’t the only ones passing over the keg.

Recent studies indicate college students drink less than their peers think they do.

Some abstain simply because they have better things to do than to wake up hung over.

Other reasons range from religious beliefs to the desire to retain a sense of dignity.

Biology major Gabby Maglione, 18, recalled watching two people lead a stupefied woman from a party.

She asks, “Do you really want people to see you like that?”

Date rape drugs, which are commonly slipped into alcoholic beverages, also contribute to the allure of non-alcoholic parties.

“When you drink,” said Elizabeth Handler, 21, “you set yourself up to be taken advantage of.”

Sobriety is not just safer than getting drunk- it’s fun, too.

Melissa Trott is exuberant as she rehashes her weekend over lunch at the Student Center.

The 20-year-old education major frequents liquor-free parties at the Drexel and Montgomery Houses.

Aside from great music, good food, a living room packed with people dancing and the occasional cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” it’s spontaneity that makes these parties work.

Games like Mafia, spoons and a midnight round of ultimate Frisbee don’t hurt, either.

“The best parties are with friends you’re not afraid to be real with,” said Trott, “people who won’t think less of you if you do something stupid.”

Henderson’s secret to a successful non-alcoholic party is “great promotion, a great DJ and pretty girls.” After all, people don’t come to their parties to get wasted, said Timothy James, 19.

“They come to meet new friends, dance, socialize, hook up, and make out,” he said.

The task of throwing a dry party may be daunting to those accustomed to a well stocked bar.

Brian Dougherty, president of Sound Machine Entertainment, acknowledges that while it is more difficult to put people at ease without alcohol, it isn’t impossible.

“Be keenly aware of your guests,” Dougherty suggests.

Learning what they’re like ahead of time will help you decide what music, games and ice breakers to play.

If you’re feeling creative, try a theme party.

The Theme Factory’s Jessica Simpson insists it needn’t be expensive.

Create atmosphere by decorating with objects you wouldn’t think of using as decorations.

For example, Simpson has covered beach umbrellas with fabric to create parasols for bridal showers.

Surfboards can serve as tables for parties with a beach theme.

If you need help finding ideas, Simpson suggests going on-line and searching for your theme.

If you are doing a 50s sock hop, for example, you would search for “50s party props.”

The important thing to remember, says Simpson, is to try to keep it fun.

“People shouldn’t get stressed out. Just be creative,” she said.

The producer also emphasized the benefit of having an interactive DJ to get the crowd moving.

“It’d better have a good DJ,” said Mark Miller when confronted with the prospect of an alcohol-free party.

“And no chairs,” he added, lest people stop dancing and start chatting.

The importance of having a great DJ cannot be stressed enough.

Without alcohol, music becomes a crucial mood enhancer which can make or break the party.

If you want to have fun minus the alcohol but don’t want to go all out and party, there are many activities worth checking out.

Trott suggests getting involved in a group on campus and participating in the activities they sponsor.

Going to football games and movies are popular, as well as playing card games and Twister.

Trott reveals that going into a party with a mind to have a good time will help you do just that.

Additionally, Dougherty encourages students, whether their problem is limited space, a lack of funds or a lack of alcohol, to make the best of what you have.

“It can hinder things, but only if you allow it to,” he said.

Serving nonalcoholic cocktails, or “mocktails,” can be fun and is an alternative to sipping alcoholic mixed drinks.

Many favorites like daiquiris, pina-coladas and margaritas can be prepared without alcohol.

If you are going for a theme, Simpson says it’s cute to rename the drinks to match the theme of your party. Try these recipes on your guests at your next party.

Lauren Sullivan can be reached at

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