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Conscious clubbing: could you rave sober?

August 11th 2014 / Toni Jones


Carefree raving is easy after one too many mojitos, but what about when you're sober? Toni Jones tried the new urban fitness trend to find out

It's not unheard of for me to find myself in the middle of a sweaty dance floor as the sun comes up. Some of my best (hazy) memories involve dancing till dawn with my most glamorous gal pals. What is unheard of is for me to be doing it completely sober.

Welcome to Morning Gloryville, an 'immersive morning experience' encouraging dance fans to rave their way into the day, without drink, drugs or judgement.

It's hip to be square right now, and the team behind the 'conscious clubbing' movement claim that a dance-based, totally clean wake-up call is the most fun way to work out and get endorphins flowing.

Started in East London (of course) last summer, these 'pre-parties' - held in industrial clubs and featuring mega sound systems and hipster DJs - are now being held in 11 cities around the world, including Rio and Barcelona.

So are morning raves the new power yoga? 'Conscious clubbing' certainly sounds rather fabulous and like something Gwyneth Paltrow might Goop about (especially when you hear that the bar is stocked with spirulina), so we hit the dance floor this week to find out...


7am - I would normally just be thinking about getting out of bed at this time on a Wednesday morning. Instead I am standing in the rain outside a warehouse under a flyover at the wrong end of Portobello Road, and contemplating whether it's too late to leg it back to my Uber. I've roped several friends into attending Morning Gloryville's second West London event but they are nowhere to be seen and I'm feeling rather exposed in my American Apparel swimsuit and pleather shorts with just one bemused bouncer and Notting Hill's bin men for company. I head inside where there's a bustle of activity, as lots of men in topknots and patterned leggings limber up and women in fairy wings and glittery wigs welcome bleary-eyed guests. I spot bongos and patchouli candles and a few harem pants and start to worry this scene might be a bit 'alternative' for me. 'It smells like Brighton in here,' I text my friend George. George is gay so my message doesn't phase him and once he arrives he bustles me off to the organic coffee bar for a 'Dutch courage' double macchiato.

7.30am - We've completed the standard 'tour of the club' circuit that people do when arriving at a new venue and located the loos, DJ booth, best seats, smoking/smurting area, bar (stocked with raw coconut juice, water and green smoothies only), a massage area and even a yoga corner. The place is still pretty quiet and the bright lights are unnerving so we loiter around the edges as we wait for a few more friends. Suddenly, the glamorous people start arriving. Phew (like any party the most fashionable people are fashionably late). Soon the club is awash with lululemon and Air Max. The music gets turned up and it starts to feel like a proper party.

8am - The dance floor is PACKED and any nerves I had about being able to rave my head off without being tipsy have disappeared thanks to the Nineties and Noughties dance anthems being belted out. It feels like being at an after party where you actually know the songs (rather than ending up somewhere [anywhere] because you just don’t want the fun to end) and the energy is incredible as hundreds of people jump around. Suddenly my swimsuit/shorts/trucker cap combo doesn't feel so weird as I spy grown women in sequined tutus and handsome boys in flashing shades and faux fur (officially the dress code is 'dress to sweat', unofficially it appears to be festival finery). My friends and I are amazed by the general level of hotness in the crowd (a mix of girl groups in workout gear, yoga bunnies, hippies, university friends, media boys and Notting Hill kids) and then realise it's probably because everybody is at the start of their day, not at the tail end of a 12 hour bender.


8.30am - There's a slight energy lull in the group. Normally this would involve me ordering several shots of tequila/Red Bull/both to get our mojo back but with nothing more than raw coconut water to fuel our moves, we just have to wait for the music to bring us back up again. And it does, helped along by a group of dancers leading the whole club in a hip hop routine from the stage. ‘I feel like I'm in Ibiza' shouts George as he bounces past and starts delayering.

9am - The crowd starts to peter out as people with real jobs whizz off to work, sweaty but smiley (one of the downsides of morning raving is the effort involved to get office appropriate in a nightclub loo). It's my cue to leave when the music turns a bit Magic FM. So far I have loved the classic house tunes, but Pump Up The Jam and D:Ream is a step too old skool cheese for me (I might be almost too old to be clubbing but I still have a smidgen of musical taste).

9.30am – We leave and head for breakfast, feeling a bit like we are doing the walk of shame. I probably do look like I have pulled an all-nighter (club kid clothes, sweaty hair, no makeup) but in fact I can be entirely smug having just completed a 90 minute workout.

Lots of the crowd were still going strong as we left (although I’m not sure everyone was entirely sober). My legs ache from jumping around to Massive Attack, my face aches from smiling too much, and while I won’t be giving up real after parties with all their brilliant bad behaviour anytime soon I will definitely be back to rave my way into the day again.

The next Morning Gloryville event is in East London on 27th August, from 6.30am to 10.30am, tickets are £12.50

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