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Clarity Countdown: Alcohol-free events for Dry January

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On the evening of Saturday, January 6, 45 people attended a community event in South Lake Union with a focus on being alcohol-free. The sold-out event, "Clarity Countdown: An Intention-Setting Dry January Celebration," was hosted by Seattle-based nonalcoholic business owners Molly Flynn and Juanita Unger.

"[It was] a really beautiful event, in my humble opinion," Flynn said. "It was a night dedicated to nonalcoholic, Dry January intention setting. We had a nonalcoholic happy hour, a nonalcoholic bottle shop courtesy of The N.A. Sommelier, [and] yoga ... and then we had a sound bath."

The idea for "Clarity Countdown" was conceived when Flynn, owner of the nonalcoholic events consulting business Molly Makes Clinks, had a coffee date with Unger, the owner of the nonalcoholic bottle shop The N.A. Sommelier.

"I just recently opened a little ... bottle shop, and I really wanted to do something for Dry January," Unger said. "Also, I really wanted to meet Molly, because I'd seen her in the community and knew of the awesome work she was doing. So, we had a coffee date and — not thinking that we were going to do a Dry January thing or anything... — by the end of the conversation, we were like, 'Let's do something together!'"

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Meeting a need
While there are many people who are sober for one reason or another, there is a distinct lack of dry events, especially Queer ones.

"I specifically want to do events that my community can participate in," Flynn said. "I believe in the importance of nonalcoholic events, because of the feedback that I've heard from the people in my community that they need spaces in which they can engage with other people [and] do activities where alcohol isn't present, for a number of reasons. It's not just for alcoholic dependency... I am a Queer person, and I know that the rates of alcohol abuse are so much higher in the Queer community."

According to a 2020 study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Approximately 21.8% of sexual minority adults had an alcohol use disorder in the past year, compared to 11.0% in the overall population." This is for a variety of reasons, ranging from mental health issues being more prevalent to the promotion of a party-based lifestyle.

"There is an abundance of reasons why people don't drink, and I want to just honor that there is something that speaks for everyone, including the sober curious and people who are mindful moderators," Flynn said.

"I stopped drinking a few years ago, and I feel like... I would go out if there was a space for me to go and hang out with other folks who were not drinking and who were like-minded and where there were delicious options still, without them having alcohol," Unger said. "So, it's something I need too, and I don't see it in the community. Let me create it."

While Flynn and Unger aren't the first people to own nonalcoholic businesses, the influence they have will likely ensure that they aren't the last.

People who want to pick up nonalcoholic products for Dry January can stop by The N.A. Sommelier, located in The Fishbowl Art Gallery in the Uptown neighborhood of Seattle. People interested in hosting a nonalcoholic event can visit https://mollymakesclinks.com