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Austin’s first bar without booze plans a SXSW music pop-up

A bar that doesn’t serve booze?

That’s the premise of a new hangout, Sans Bar, that addiction counselor Chris Marshall is hoping to open in Austin — with a focus on live music, healthy food and wellness activities like yoga. 

Pegged as Austin’s first sober bar, Sans Bar doesn’t have the funding yet to be a reality, but Marshall is hoping to raise money for it during South by Southwest next week at a pop-up called the Sober Showcase.

The March 9 showcase, which will have live music, free food and free nonalcoholic drinks, will follow an all-day event focused on health and fitness. Want to hear from Marshall firsthand? He’s speaking at Fitvent at 4 p.m. about creating “a safe place to stay sober and stay social,” according to the event page.

At 8 p.m. that day, the Fitvent space will transform into the Sober Showcase, which you can access for $7-$10 or $15-$25 if you want the VIP experience. Drinks there will include nonalcoholic riffs on classic cocktails — such as the Jupiter Tonic in place of a gin and tonic.

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Marshall has been trying to get funding for Sans Bar since 2015, when he started a GoFundMe page. His ongoing campaign hasn’t raised much so far, but with news of the SXSW pop-up beginning to spread, it looks like more donations have been made in the past couple of days.

“Laughing with friends, listening to music, meeting new people, all while sipping your favorite beverage and relaxing. That’s what makes going to a bar so much fun,” Sans Bar’s About page reads. “Ready to do all that without the alcohol? Sans Bar is here.”

According to the page, Marshall decided to open Sans Bar because he noticed, while working in the addiction counseling field, that people who would get clean and sober would rebound because they didn’t know how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. But Sans Bar is for anyone who wants to have a good time without the booze.

“Our mission is to provide unmatched and innovative non-alcoholic beverage and food service, quality live music, sober sports viewing, and life courses that invigorate our customers and positively impact our local community through social wellness and philanthropic good,” according to the website.

The Sober Showcase will be located at 301 Chicon St. from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on March 9, the first official day of SXSW. Sans Bar also hosts other pop-ups year-round — most often at 305 Stark St. — in case you miss the Sober Showcase or want more events like it.

For more information, visit thesansbar.com.

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