‘Soberoo’ allows Bonnaroo attendees to stay sober, build community


Photo courtesy of Bonnaroo

Walking up to the “Soberoo” tent at Bonnaroo, there are multiple people dancing in circles, having a great time and promoting the sober festival life. While Soberoo is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, there are people from all walks of life that enjoy this community experience. From recovering users to those who have never participated in substance use, there is a place for those that wish to remain clear during their time at Bonnaroo.

The community was created by a group of like-minded individuals that wanted to enjoy the music, community and family that Bonnaroo creates. Soberoo is completely free to join and is located in the community camping area. This section of the camping grounds is fenced off from the rest of general camping.

Nathan Payne, 26, has been in recovery for nearly six years and explained how Soberoo started.

“Soberoo started as just a group of people with yellow balloons, and that’s how they found each other,” Payne said. “It’s just sort of evolved over the years so that now we have our space at Centeroo and group camping. I became involved three years ago and had never been to a festival before coming to Bonnaroo.”

Payne said that he started coming to Bonnaroo to support Soberoo.

“It’s kind of funny how getting sober got me into this scene that I had always wanted to be a part of, but I was never present enough to take part in it,” Payne said. “The most important thing we can do here is to let people know that they aren’t alone.”

Adam Hirsch, 34, started coming to Soberoo five years ago and stated that becoming sober was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. Hirsch said that becoming sober made him a better father, son, brother and friend.

“I think the biggest thing to really emphasize is that the pleasure of life doesn’t end when we overcome our alcoholism and addiction,” Hirsch said. “There’s a stigma that automatically follows people that are in recovery that we don’t have fun and we’re kind of boring. We come out here and just have a great time. Sometimes we’re mistaken for intoxicated people because we just let loose and dance.”

Hirsch said that a key portion of recovery is service, and by going to Soberoo he is able to spread their message.

“Coming out here allows us to spread our message that if you feel like you’re in a bad position, there’s a better way of living,” Hirsch said. “If you are already in recovery, there is a community out there that can support you.”

Payne agreed that Bonnaroo is about finding yourself and enjoying the time that you have with the people around you.

“Life is meant to be enjoyed with others,” Payne said. “So, when you find your tribe, we can support each other. Nobody should have to go through Roo alone!”

For more Bonnaroo coverage, visit here.

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