The Sunday before summer solstice was the day of SASStonbury: a mini drink and drug free music festival, organised by SASS (hence the silly festival name). It was a bit of a gamble and something we thought would be a nice idea but we were plagued by the anxiety that there would be no ‘festival’ atmosphere once you removed the alcohol. We also wanted to do it properly by having it as a whole day affair, with different acts, food and people. We needn’t have worried – apart from one dicey half hour where the power failed; SASStonbury was fantastic and a real eye opener about not needing alcohol to have a good time. So here’s our mini guide on how to put on a mini music festival without booze:
Get this right and the rest will take care of itself. We were hosted by the brilliant @Foodhall - a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ café at the top of Eyre Street in Sheffield. The café, based in an old funeral parlour, gave an underground, quirky, dusty, ambiance reminiscent of the old warehouse rave scene. Very hipster-esque.
We love the talents of the recovery community but don’t just shove artists on because they’re in recovery. One of the things that really worked at SASStonbury was that the musicians were really good – some were in recovery; most weren’t. Not only did this ensure the tunes were good but it also opened the eyes of the non-recovery musicians to an alcohol-free approach.
Logistically we could only provide cold drinks and anyone who has had anything to do with recovery will know that a lack of a hot brew is a big deal. But we made up for this with the food! Our friend’s @Foodhall did an amazing job of feeding the masses with a varied menu of one-pot delights. All was created from donated food that would otherwise have been binned – so doing our ethical bit as well.
A festival wouldn’t be a festival if it didn’t also include all the random acts of skills, entertainment and wares. We had a dance troop, tarot readings, circus skills, reiki and artisan crafts by Soul Traders. Plenty to keep people amused in-between the musical acts.
However, what really made the event into something special was the complete mixture of the audience. SASStonbury was a success because it didn’t just cater for the recovery community, it had that lovely festival mix of people from all walks of life getting together to enjoy themselves without the need for alcohol.
Huge thanks to everyone who gave up their time to help make SASStonbury happen – you know who you are!