Image credit: Jason Purple Photography
It's 6am and the sun is rising over London. My day started 6 hours ago, when my friend and I got on a bus in Cardiff and made the trip to the peak of The Shard to celebrate the Autumn equinox with the magical Morning Gloryville. Now if you're not familiar with Morning Gloryville, it's an immersive morning dance party, where everyone is welcome to rave their way into the day - sober! Yep, no booze, just uplifting tunes, coffee, smoothies, yoga, massage and more glitter than 15 series of 'Strictly'. Started in London in 2013 by Samantha Moyo and her innovative tribe, Morning Gloryville have been pioneers in bringing conscious clubbing to the world stage and have created a global community of fellow morning ravers.
I'm writing this as a fan of MGV myself, after going to my first party in West London last year. From the moment I was greeted at the door by a man in a white coat, with a giant inflatable syringe, wanting to inject my heart with a dose of love, I knew this was going to be something special and I was hooked. I've always loved a boogie on the dance floor, and the mix of house, disco and all things uplifting is right up my street. But Morning Gloryville is so much more than a morning rave. It's a place where everyone is welcome, where you can be as flamboyant as a unicorn or turn up in your gym kit. Where you can bring your toddler or your nan, all ages are welcome.
Whilst dancing to live band Gypsy Hill at 8am as the sun beamed through the glass walls of The Shard, I looked around at the diversity of people around me and it reminded me that music and dance brings people together in such a special way. There is no need for words, just people being connected in a place where there is an underlying understanding that we all just want to be happy and feel free to be ourselves. In a society where so many of us feel isolated or unable to fully express ourselves for fear of being judged, a community like Morning Gloryville can give that much needed outlet for people to be creative, try something new, meet like-minded or completely different people, or to find a way to connect with others in a different way.
I was fascinated by Bradley Gunn's story of how sober raving has allowed him to express himself. As someone with Aspergers he found it difficult to talk to people in social situations and was feeling isolated, but through dancing he said he could be confident in himself and feel like he belonged with people. As humans we are wired for connection and to have a sense of belonging, but not everyone wants to or is able to talk, and so music can be so powerful in taking off the pressure to make conversation. It's also a great boost to our mood, which is why the 'Gloryville effect' lingers long after we've left the dance floor...
'The ample flow of mood-improving chemicals that dancing releases means that raising the roof can elevate your mental state. Getting jiggy with others also leads to less stress and stronger social bonds, key factors in both mental and physical health. The more time you spend on the dance floor, the more you train your brain to open those feel-good floodgates--and the more you'll start to amp up your overall well-being.' Joe Verghese, M.D., a professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
It's no wonder that events like Morning Gloryville are becoming more popular, with more of us suffering with poor mental health, feeling increasingly lonely and disconnected and bored of getting wasted at the weekend, we are yearning for alternative ways to feel good and have fun.
Clearly, one of the big attractions to Morning Gloryville is that everyone is sober. Looking around, I suspect a few people there have kissed goodnight to their trippy clubbing days and are open to a more sustainable way to party, and introducing the younger generation to the world of conscious clubbing I believe is the way forward. In a recent article I wrote about why going dry is the new high for young people, with the proportion of 16-24-year-olds who are teetotal increasing by more than 40% between 2005 and 2013, there needs to be something cool and vibrant on offer for them.
So could morning raving really be an antidote to loneliness? Well, for anyone who's feeling isolated, scared to show their true colours to the world, bored of making small talk with strangers, or just wants to be free, silly, creative and try something new, pop on your sparkly leggings and dancing shoes, set your alarm and grab a ticket to the best party in town, it could just change your life.