Kyle Kuehn, 28, was watching “The Fighter” one day about a year ago while battling with alcohol addiction, the want to quit cigarettes and being self conscious about his body. He watched Christian Bale’s character at the end of the movie when he says no to the heroin. That positive life change in the movie inspired Kuehn to change his own life.
Lights Out was created that afternoon.
Lights Out started out as an idea of a late night boxing gym that would help keep Kuehn out of bars and help him get fit.
“I named it Lights Out. It was going to be a late night boxing gym to help me get in shape and to keep me out of the bar. That is why it would be open late night. And to promote community, I would be able to develop relationships there that were built on more than a common substance abuse problem,” Kuehn said about his early idea of Lights Out which later evolved into much more.
Lights Out than became Sober Bars. He met with Justin Rule, CEO of Heads Up, which is a non-profit in downtown Lancaster, about his idea of the boxing gym. Rule recommended focusing in on the social aspects instead of the activity of boxing, which revolutionized Kuehn’s idea. It made it what it currently is today.
“The main need was a place to gather and socialize and be with each other substance free. So that is when Lights Out turned from a boxing gym to a sober bar,” Kuehn mentioned about the transformation of his idea.
Kuehn has had his own personal struggles with addiction. He got involved with cocaine and marijuana around age 16. He understands the struggles that people with addiction go through.
“The reason I am personally invested in Lights Out is because there were many nights I did not want to drink, I just drank because it was the only thing to do. So I thought to myself if there was a place when I got off work that had the same social need that I needed filled… that existed without the alcohol. So I was not tempted. Maybe then I could live my life free from addiction,“ Kuehn said about his own personal experiences with addiction.
He hopes to use his own personal experiences to help others via Lights Out. He wants to be able to reach out to help people with addictions who have nowhere to go. He also wants to help prevent the start of addiction by giving people options of having fun without drinking. Lights Out would be open to 18 year olds since they can not yet go to the bar, but this gives them an outlet to enjoy themselves by realizing they can have fun while sober according to Kuehn.
The whole point of Lights Out is recovery, prevention and to help people realize they can have fun without the substances.
He remembers last summer the story of Meredith Demko who was struck by a car in the afternoon. The man who struck her was struggling with substance abuse. Kuehn wonders what may have become of the man if Lights Out was open. He questions whether or not that could have saved a life by giving him an outlet.
“I really believe people will be able to relearn how to have fun without substances. There are a lot of people that Lights Out to them is going to mean the difference of a saved life or not,” Kuehn said.
The first event for Lights Out will take place on October 23 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Ursa Lounge in Lancaster, PA. The theme is console con, which will feature all types of different videogames being available to play throughout the night. There are many other events planned for the year ahead. Lights Out will officially turn the lights on in November of 2016.