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(From left) Amber and Mike Handby. Photo by Chayce Lanphear

Colorado’s First Sober Music Festival Arrives This Month

Sundown Colorado combines electronic dance music, mindfulness, and local art—minus the booze.

As DJs in Denver’s electronic dance music (EDM) scene, Mike and Amber Handby were both offered free bar tabs as payment for playing shows. Over time, though, they questioned booze’s outsize role in party culture. “People say they need to drink to dance,” Mike says. “But dancing should be about unfiltered human connection.” Convinced sobriety and partying could coexist in a fulfilling way—and suspecting others might crave that communal experience minus the hangover—the husband-and-wife team launched Secret Dance Addiction, a Denver events company that throws drug-and-alcohol-free raves, in 2020. Each themed party (think: Bubbles & Bathrobes) starts with a moment of guided meditation to unite the crowd before the beat drops. Meshing mindfulness with dance has attracted enough revelers that the couple is hosting the state’s first music festival for teetotalers, Sundown Colorado, on September 11 at the River North Festival Grounds. Guests can boogie to spellbinding beats, sip nonalcoholic cocktails blended by Awake Denver (the city’s first sober bar), and explore a small sculpture garden featuring work from local artists. And if they need a breather from all that straitlaced raging? A series of on-site meditation classes will help attendees come down from the soberest high of their lives.

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