At the end of every Front-end London event we invite our attendees to the Earl of Essex pub and encourage them to meet new people, exchange ideas and develop relationships with their fellow community members. While the talks are an important part of an event like this, we’ve always thought that so much of what’s good about FEL is in the opportunity it provides to bring people together in the community.
While this is true, it’s always been a bugbear of mine that this isn’t an activity that everyone feels comfortable participating in. Just last month I spoke to an attendee who seemed to really enjoy the event but didn’t want to come to the pub because she didn’t really enjoy drinking alcohol. This isn’t the first time we’ve come across this feedback and I fully recognise that pub-based booze-centered social activities are somewhat exclusive.
From my own perspective, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more aware of the effect that alcohol has on my mood. Earlier in the year I participated in Dry January and during which I very definitely experienced both physical and mental benefits of taking a break from drinking. When I think about closing out the bar (as we usually do after a FEL event), I think about the potential toll that kind of drinking takes on my own mental health over time.
There are always soft drinks available at FEL, but this month we’ve decided to serve soft drinks exclusively. There won’t be any alcohol at the event at all. Instead we’ll serve the usual canned soft drinks and a selection of our own hand-made mocktails. We won’t be leading a procession to the pub after the event, but will be encouraging everyone to hang out at the Made by Many office and continue the fun there.
There’s more to FEL than the booze and we’re not trying to demonize alcohol in any way (I like a drink as much as the next person), but our hope is that on this occasion going alcohol-free will make the social aspect of FEL more inclusive.
In addition, as we’re going to be saving money by not supplying alcohol this month, we’re going to take that saving and donate it to Codebar. We’re great fans of Codebar and everything they do in encouraging and supporting new developers in the community.
This is an experiment for us, and we’re keen to hear about what this change means for you. While we’re not planning to make this change permanent, we hope that it won’t be just a one-off.
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