21 ways to spend your 21st ... sober.
By Katie Dawson
“I’m just not really that interested in drinking,” Chambers said. “I wanted to just spend the time with my friends and family.”
Instead of going out to a bar, Chambers watched the movie “National Treasure” with her brother.
“Watching a movie was a lot of fun,” Chambers said. “I had a great time. It was really relaxing.”
Some students also choose not to drink because they want to celebrate with students that are not 21.
“I wanted to have a big celebration that included all of my family and friends,” senior Heidi Cockerham said. “Since this includes people under the legal drinking age, I had flavored punch instead. Alcohol wasn’t necessary to have a good time.”
To many students, the idea of not celebrating their 21st birthday with alcohol seems crazy.
“When I told people what I did on my 21st birthday, they looked at me like I was from Mars,” Chambers said. “They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to drink.”
Chambers said she believes that when students choose to drink on their 21st birthday, it’s because they feel like they’re finally adults.
“I think people like the feeling of being able to do things,” Chambers said. “When you’re little, people are always telling you, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, but when you turn 21 you can show (the bar) your ID and say ‘wow, I can do this.’ It’s the first time you’re considered an adult.”
Chambers said there are ways to celebrate a 21st birthday without drinking alcohol.
“I think you’re definitely safer at home watching a movie than you when you’re out getting completely trashed,” Chambers said. “Personally, there are a lot better activities you can be doing without drinking. But I know it’s not really realistic to think of a campus without alcohol.”
The IU Alcohol-Drug Information Center is a hub on campus that provides education services to all students. They offer basic services including a resource library, peer education programs and community liaisons.
Director Dee Owens said she believes that society has a negative effect on the way students view alcohol.
“They have been carefully trained by drinking peers and the alcohol industry that it’s the ‘thing to do,’” Owens said.
IU continues to try to combat excessive drinking. The Alcohol-Drug Information Center has started a special program to teach students that drinking is not the only way to celebrate birthdays.
“Our office just won a grant from the Parents Association to send 21st birthday cards, along with a small ‘present’ to students who are having birthdays,” Owens said. “We simply want to remind students that there are potentially deadly consequences to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and that there are safer ways to have fun.”
Excessive drinking anytime can result in horrible consequences, Owens said. Staying sober is the only way to make sure these consequences don’t happen to you.
“One wrong decision can change one’s life – or lose it,” Owens said. “We want students to have fun and to stay safe – it really is that simple. If one chooses to drink, then avoid heavy drinking, and (use) Get A Ride.”
The 21st birthday is often a memorable night for students, marking the occasion when consuming alcohol is legal. Bars and clubs are common places of celebration. While many use this night to drink, some students have chosen to spend the night sober. For any students who are about to turn 21, here are 21 ways to celebrate your 21st.
1. Go to a Casino. Not only are you legally old enough to drink, when you hit 21 you're now old enough to go gamble.The closest casino is Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, Ind.
2. Spaah! is a local spa that was voted “Best Day Spa in Bloomington” by Herald Times readers in 2008.
3. Treat yourself to a nice restaurant you wouldn’t normally pay the money to go to.
4. Go on a road trip (getaway weekend).
5. Go to a dance club – make fun of everyone that’s drunk and acting stupid.
6. Go bowling or to a roller rink. Western Skateland is a local rink.
7. Go shopping – You can go to the College Mall or if you want something bigger, make a trip up to Indianapolis. Go to Circle Centre Mall downtown, or check out a couple up near 82nd street.
8. Go to a strip club – The closest strip club to campus is Night Moves on South Walnut Street. The cover charge is $3.
9. Go to a concert.
10. Spend it with your family.
11. Night at a hotel – Rent a room for you and your friends. You can watch movies, order room service or go swim in the pool. And most hotels offer a complementary breakfast in the morning.
12. Go to a movie or watch one at home.
13. Play paintball or laser tag. There is a laser tag facility called LazerLite at on East Third Street. One game costs $6.50.
14. Have a pool party.
15. Have a slumber party – Even though these were common when you were in elementary or middle school, you can still do them now. Get a group together and have a slumber party at your house. You can watch a movie, make some popcorn and play board games.
16. Have a party with non-alcoholic drinks (mocktail party).
17. Go to a hookah bar – There are no hookah bars in Bloomington, so if you want to do this you will have to travel to Indianapolis. The Egyptian Cafe and Hookah Bar is located at 6265 Carrollton Ave.
18. Have a dance party – If you don’t want to spend money to go to a dance club, have your own. All you need is a stereo with speakers and a dance floor.
19. Play root beer pong.
20. Throw a benefit party for your favorite charity – make everyone pay $5 to get in and give all the money to the charity of your choice.
21. Go to a sporting event.
Like what you are reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.