Booze-free - and merry with it

BARTENDER: Despite working with alcohol Robbie Lane prefers apple juice.
BARTENDER: Despite working with alcohol Robbie Lane prefers apple juice.

He's not a wowser or an alcoholic but Robbie Lane won't be knocking back any drinks tonight.

The Mairehau man manages the bar at the Pallet Pavilion, which is celebrating New Year's Eve from 4pm today to 1am.

Lane says he's good for a beer - just one, but that's about it.

"I hate the way it makes me feel and makes me broke. I don't like the spinny, turny feeling and I don't like the after-effects," he says.

It has been this way for Lane, 37, since he was a teenager. He says it can be "a little boring" if he goes out with friends who are drinking.

"You don't quite fit in with what everyone else is seeing - their altered reality. When they get sozzled, they say 'tequila - get it in you', but there's always a way around it," he says.

"I like to be behind the bar working rather than in front of the bar feeling pressured to drink."

Linwood woman Hannah Ainslie, 30, doesn't drink at all. The self-described anti-alcohol "preacher" says it's a waste of money and makes her sick for days.

Because of her anti-alcohol stance, she says she doesn't get invited to many social occasions - such as New Year's Eve "piss-ups" - but she "couldn't give a crap".

Ainslie says she loathes New Zealand's "any excuse" drinking culture and is "always trying to talk people into having sober nights".

"My brother doesn't drink. He's only 23 and he socialises regardless," she says.

A lot of Kiwis primarily see Christmas Day and New Year's Eve as occasions to get drunk, she says. Not her. Tonight, Ainslie will be "chilling out" at home with her 11-year-old son and his friend.

Mairehau woman Sarah-Ann Johnson, 54, doesn't drink alcohol because she simply doesn't like the taste.

"I occasionally have a liqueur or an Irish coffee or something similar, and I make it clear I do not mind others drinking."

Her friends are fine with it - "I am always willing to be the sober driver".

However, it becomes a bit of a problem at end-of-year work functions. There's only so much orange juice or fizzy drink one person can take.

Johnson sympathises with younger people, especially at this time of year, because "so many people think you are peculiar not to drink - even just wine".

"Christmas time used to be more of a problem when I was younger, but now I don't care what others think," she says.

The Press