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Chicago’s First No-Booze Cruise Sells Out, Showing Big Demand For Sober Events

The attendees plan to enjoy non-alcoholic drinks as they float beneath the Air and Water Show. “I just think it’s important for people to know that sober people are doing really fun things."

A boat motors on Lake Michigan near Montrose Beach past the Chicago skyline at sunrise on June 4, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — Chicago’s first No Booze Cruise will set out on Lake Michigan this weekend during the annual Air and Water Show. 

The sold-out cruise was organized by Chicago AF, a group of sober adults who frequently meet up to explore everything the city has to offer — without alcohol. The group is planning more sober events.

Forty people bought tickets to go for a float on Saturday’s no-booze cruise. They’ll enjoy non-alcoholic spirits provided by Lyre’s, a sponsor of the event. Christina Torres, the owner of local business Bendicion Dry Bar, will also be aboard the ship, serving flights of non-alcoholic drinks to taste. 

“It’ll be like any other booze cruise, there just won’t be alcohol,” said Carrie May, 48, who founded the group. “When you’re getting sober, you want to feel like you’re not missing out on anything, that you’re still having just as much fun without getting buzzed. And it’s just fun to have a flight served to you.” 

Credit: Provided//Carrie May
Members of Chicago AF completed a ropes course together.

May created in the group in October 2020 so she could build a community with other people who don’t drink.

Since then, the group has taken tours together, attended sporting events, enjoyed rooftop meals and completed a ropes course, among other things. 

“Getting together with people of all different ages and backgrounds has been super cool,” May said. “Something I’ve found in my own sobriety journey is that people need to practice being sober in social settings because it’s super awkward at first, so we just try to do things where we can get out of our comfort zones and have fun.”

Credit: Provied//Carrie May
Sober adults who’ve found a community through Chicago AF attended a Cubs game together.

More sober bars and events have been popping up in Chicago in recent years, including Eli Tea Bar at 5507 N. Clark St. in Andersonville and the upcoming Bendición Dry Bar in Logan Square.

Anyone who’s interested in attending future Chicago AF events can reach out via the group’s Instagram: @chicago_af.  

“I just think it’s important for people to know that sober people are doing really fun things,” May said. “I feel like there’s a big alc-free movement across the U.S., and it’s definitely here in Chicago. Being sober doesn’t mean you have to be shunned.”  

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