It all started in August of 2014, while watching a movie called the Fighter starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlburg. In this movie, a boxer who has a lot of potential, is being dragged down by his brother who has a heroin addiction. Spoiler alert: the brother overcomes his addiction at the end and the boxer wins the title. While watching this film I was inspired
by the brother’s ability to overcome his addictions. I myself had been struggling with alcohol, and had been unable to break its grip on me. And just then an idea hit. A LATE NIGHT BOXING GYM. What a great idea? Instead of going out at night and hitting the bottle, I would go hit a bag. This place would help people replace drugs and substances with a much healthier outlet. BOXING. It just needed a name…..Lights Out! That’s it. “When the lights go out our lights stay lit!” I had a tagline and everything. It communicated what time we would be open, what might happen to you there, and also carried a spiritual reference to Matthew 5:16. It was perfect. There was only one problem, I still had a drinking problem.
So next I take this Late Night Boxing gym idea to a guy that came recommended by a friend. We met for coffee and talked for OVER 3 HOURS. We had great conversation. I told him of my plans for this awesome late-night gym and how it would have this cool café that people could socialize in. He then helped me realize that boxing would be a fun activity, but that the late night sober café is what would really fill the community’s need. He encouraged me to make the café the focus, and boxing could one day become an amenity. That was the day Lights Out Sober Bar was born. But I still wasn’t sober. To read that story click here
Well wouldn’t you know it, after I got sober, all sorts of doors started opening for Lights Out Sober Bar. I started researching and discovered that I wasn’t the first person to think of a concept like this. In Crystal Lake, Illinois there was a place established in 2013 by Chris Reed called The Other Side Bar. In Ann Arbor, Michigan a pop up called Brillig Dry Bar. In addition, there seemed to be a trend in the UK of sober themed establishments like: The Redemption Bar, Sobar, and The Funky Seomra.
After the initial shock of realizing I hadn’t invented the ‘wheel’, I went back to working hard to turn this dream into a reality. I spent all of 2015 telling the world about Lights Out. It was in the paper a couple times, and I started receiving emails from other states and even other countries. I hooked up with a café/bookstore called The Rabbit and The Dragonfly. When I saw their space I just knew it was perfect. I told them my vision and they thought it was awesome. We began discussing how we could share the same facility while remaining separate businesses.
Towards the end of summer is when Jeremy joined the team. I had been looking for help and he loved the mission. Tom and I connected over the mission around December when I asked him to join the team. Come fall we started throwing monthly events:
• October 2015 was the first event Console Con. Console Con, a video game convention, was a huge hit with over 100 people. There were costumes, tournaments, dancing, and of course…Video Games.
• In November 2015, we had The Brawny Man Challenge. For this event the dress code was flannel like the Brawny Man, and we had a bearded arm-wrestling tournament. LOSER GOT SHAVED….that night! It was also a night to recognize veterans with PTSD.
• In January 2016 we had Disney Downtown, a fun Disney themed night with costumes, trivia, music, and dancing.
• In February 2016 we had NYD or NOT YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC. This was a night of music to raise awareness for the need of substance-free entertainment in the community. We wanted to participate in a music festival as a sober venue. They had already chosen the venues but proceeded to say “sober people aren’t really our demographic.” That’s where the name Not Your Demographic came from.
After having successful events and still looking to open up a brick and mortar location in the fall of 2016, I called the team together to discuss with them a larger vision. We had already begun to see huge impact in our own community, what if we could have that impact on a cultural level? What if we could take this mission to every city? This is when Sober Bars was born.
Sober bars is an organization that looks to inspire a culture where people are free to live life to it's fullest potential, by empowering communities through substance free entertainment, socialization, and relationships. From our brick and mortar Lights Out Sober Bar due to open this fall, to our community friendly events like Console Con/The Ink Run/NYD, to SOBERBARS Magazine due to release January 2017 we are revolutionizing the way our society views sobriety. Sober isn’t less, it’s more. Coming soon to a city near you!