Dance the night away in Sudbury at new alcohol-free venue

A couple of young entrepreneurs in Sudbury have opened a new kind of club — an alcohol-free space for bar hoppers to go when the bars close.
A couple of young entrepreneurs in Sudbury are giving people a place to go after the bars close. Tyson Bieniek and Nick Champaigne call it Upstairs. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)
You don't have to go home after the bars close in Sudbury. The nickel city now has a new after-hours venue. It's called Upstairs and it's run by Tyson Bienick and Nick Champagne. Tyson Bienick dropped by the studio to tell us all about it. 5:30

A couple of young entrepreneurs in Sudbury have opened a new kind of club — an alcohol-free space for bar hoppers to go when the bars close.

Tyson Bieniek and Nick Champaigne, both in their mid-20s, are familiar with the bar scene and what happens after last call. They say they've seen people who have had too much to drink stranded when the bars close — and sometimes there is pressure to get in the car and drive home.

When the bylaw limiting business hours was repealed last month, they jumped at an opportunity. The two opened an alcohol-free after-hours club called Upstairs, which will be open until 6 a.m., which is when the buses start running.

The venue, which is a former dance studio at the corner of Elgin and Cedar Streets, is about 275 square meters in size. It features large mirrors, colourful graffiti-style art, hardwood floors, and a back room that has snacks for purchase. Patrons need to be at least 19 years of age — and drugs and alcohol are prohibited.

Does it reduce drinking and driving?

Nick Champaigne said it's a place where people can sober up before going home.

"You can't stop people doing what they want. You can reduce the harm that's caused from it and you can give people a safe place to be."

The chair of a citizens' group against drunk driving said it sounds like a good idea, but notes it can be hard to tell when someone has burned off their buzz.

"If they're promoting it as a place to sober up, is there somebody there to determine when you're sober? That puts a lot of onus on that person," Action Sudbury's Ron Roy said.

Champaigne agreed that may be true. But he said the after-hours club provides a place for people to go, until somebody can pick them up.

The venue, located at 7 Cedar St. in downtown Sudbury, is a place where someone can "stay somewhere all night [and] hop a bus in the morning," Champaigne said.

"Anything we could do to cut down on the drinking and driving and give people a unique venue."

The club is open on Fridays and Saturdays.


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