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Tips for surviving Dry July in Sydney

How to go out every night of the week without drinking

Comedy crowd at Mic in Hand
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Whatever your reason for abstaining, it can feel like a daunting task to head out after dark in search of booze-free fun while catching up with mates. And it can be done. The key is to choose things where a drink is the second sell and the good times don’t depend on it. From comedy and karaoke to bowling and live music – here’s our list of after-hours adventures that are just as much fun sober as with a drink to accompany it.


TUESDAY: Sing it out

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On a Tuesday evening you’ve got two options if you’d prefer to sing out your feelings rather than drink them. The first is to belt out a round of sea shanties at the Gasoline Pony. It’s the sister event to Monday’s long running shanty night at the Dock in Redfern and it’s a whale of a time. You’ll be too busy singing ‘Bound for Botany Bay’ to get a beer in anyway. 9pm. Free. Fortnightly on Tuesdays.

On the off weeks, live the rockstar life without the hangover at Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice when they host weekly Rock’n’Roll Karaoke. Instead of weird generic video clips and synth accompaniments you’ll have a live backing band, and you can squash down your performance nerves with giant pizzas instead of whisky.
 4pm. Free. Tuesdays.


WEDNESDAY: Get quizzical

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The gang at Plan B know that some people don’t cherish questions about former cricketers or historic figures, which is why on Wednesday nights they host pop culture trivia nights. Each has an overarching topic like Stargate, Arrested Development, The OC or Pulp Fiction, and then they let true fans battle it out and argue over what Homer Simpson’s email address was ( If you haven’t reserved a table in advance, you’ll need to send a few team members down at 5pm to keep seats warm as it attract a diehard crowd. Prizes include tickets to Plan B events, free food and booze for the drinkers at your table, but if you’re in it to win it it’s better if your mind is unclouded. 8pm. Free. Wednesdays.

Generic bowling balls
Photograph: Creative Commons
Things to do, Food and drink

THURSDAYS: Bowlerama!

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Grab your mates and book unlimited bowling games after 8pm (Friday and Saturdays it starts at 9pm) at the weird and wonderful vintage-themed bowling alley attached to the Newmarket Hotel in Mascot. Grab a $12 schnitzel first if you’re so inclined, lace up those bowling shoes and live out all your Big Lebowski dreams. If you’ve got some people with you who are not Dry July participants there’s a bar. It’s probably a good idea to book ahead, and your best varsity jacket and poodle skirt will fit right in under the giant mirror-ball above the lanes.
Generic night music gig
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Bars, Pubs

FRIDAY: It’s gig time

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Newtown Social Club is a very good place to start: a live music venue above a pub. Getting dinner first is a snack, and then instead of hitting the bar after your nachos or parmi, you head upstairs to imbibe amazing tunes. The bookers at Newtown Social Club ensure that Friday’s slot is a cracker. You’ll find rock stars like Abbe May and Stonefield on the line-up for July, plus the launch of Marcus Whale’s dreamy synth-pop album Inland Sea, and Victorian psych-rocker DD Dumbo’s single tour.

SATURDAY: How about a nostalgia pop party?

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A driving techno bass line proves a lot less engaging when you’re off the sauce. But you know what? Nostalgia and pop hits are always a fun time. So if you want to hit the dancefloor without drop of boogie juice you want a collection of tunes that you already know and love. Delivering exactly what the doctor ordered is Sydney’s DJ Levins who curates a monthly pop party. July’s instalment is set to be a face-off between Rihanna and our girl Bey, so expect a whole lot of body rolling and dancehall moves. These nights also sell out in advance so lock down tickets through Moshtix ASAP. 9pm. $15. Sat Jul 30.


SUNDAY: Shake, rattle and roll

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Sometimes the answer to where to have some good clean fun lies in the history books, or more specifically the tunes of days past, That’s why you should get yourself down to the Sunday night bluegrass/folk/country band night that happens at Miss Peaches each week. It’s a school night anyway so stay on the wagon with a selection of house-made soft drinks like sarsaparilla, melon-ade, ginger beer, Southern-style lemonade and a mandarin soda. Pair it with a $12 burger and bring your best soft shoes for an old-fashioned shuffle on the dancefloor and you’ll be closing out your week in style, with nary a drop of liquor to taint it. 8pm. Free. Sundays.

Order up a mocktail

Plan an office outing – without the liquor

People cheering at an Amazing Race event at Sydney Harbour
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Booze-free team building activities

Regret over-sharing at a work function? Tired of nursing a hangover while trying to meet a deadline? We know the feeling, which is why we’ve found ten alcohol-free team-bonding activities that’ll give you quality, out-of-office time with your co-workers – without the stinking headache.

More to explore