It's Sunrise In London And Time For A Rave
At 6:30 in the morning, not many people have dancing on their mind. Freshly brewed coffee, perhaps, or the papers. Maybe some public radio. But not a party.
On a street in East London, however, the sun is rising over the rooftops, and a line of people are waiting to get into a warehouse. Most were fast asleep an hour ago, but by now they're wearing fluorescent neon tights, brightly colored headbands and leggings. Some have decorated themselves with face paint.
They're on their way to Morning Gloryville, a sober sunrise rave that started just over a year ago in this very location. Now, the parties have spread around the world, from Amsterdam to Tokyo, and San Francisco to Sydney.
Natasha Lyttom was one of the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed morning ravers. She says she doesn't typically go to early morning raves, but it's the atmosphere here that appeals.
"I like that everyone's in a really good mood," she says. "It's not the sort of typical, sticky alcohol everywhere in a club dance floor, guys trying to grind up on you, which is what normally happens in a rave."
And what about when the party's over? Well, she goes to work.
"Living the Dolly Parton dream," she sighs.
Inside, sun streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows. There are no dark and dingy corners in this club. The closest things to a bar are the vendors making smoothies and freshly ground coffee.
Meena Miller stands in front of a pile of bananas, strawberries and apples.
"We've actually had a problem with people crawling under the bar to try to hug me while I'm making smoothies," she says.
Peter Duggan has been doing Morning Gloryville's coffees from the beginning. He was skeptical at first.
"I didn't think it would work," he says. But, he adds, "It just seems to be getting busier and bigger every month."
The woman who started this phenomenon is an exuberant 28-year-old named Sam Moyo.
"What Morning Gloryville's been doing is making happiness and being joyful cool," she says. She's proud of what she's created, and the way it has spread internationally.
She's a party kid at heart. In her club-going days, she proudly wore a nickname that's not suitable for this website. But she realized she needed a change of pace.
"I'd be partying for days on end. To be honest, on a mental and emotional level, it wasn't doing me that good. But I did have the time of my life," she says.
Morning Gloryville was an attempt to capture the joy of clubbing, without the messiness. Since it took off, the party has popped up not only in European and U.S. cities, but also in places like Bangalore, India, and Cape Town, South Africa.
There's another element to this rave that's different: kids. Without the drinking and drugs, people can bring their children.
Tyler Wagner is a satellite engineer. This morning, he's dressed in a red sparkly cape and his underpants. Superhero dad. His girls are 6 and 3. They're wearing party dresses, flashing headbands and earphones to protect their hearing.
"I love taking the kids to events like this," he gushes. "This lets them enjoy their fun, artistic side. They get plenty of their engineering, science side from science at home with mum and dad. So this lets them get out and dance and have a good time."
As the clock nears 8:30, it's time for Cinderella to go back to reality. People slink away from the dance floor to change their clothes, wipe off their face paint, and stuff the glittery wigs into plastic bags. Off to their jobs in banks, schools, offices.
As the ravers leave, they're offered a final farewell from Morning Gloryville — a customized sick note:
"Dear Public Radio Team,
We are sorry that Rich is late for work. ... He has been a wonderful asset to Morning Gloryville and has been dancing hard all morning.
"Big love from the Morning Glory team."
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All right, we know some people like waking up gently - maybe it's a cup of herbal tea, maybe it's the soothing sound of public radio, like that music you just heard. Other people, though, prefer to wake up to this.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: These are sounds from a sober sunrise rave that is called Morning Gloryville. It's held on Wednesday mornings at a warehouse in East London. It started there just over a year ago and now it has gone global. NPR's Ari Shapiro recently started his day at the original party.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: So this is the start of Morning Gloryville. It's just about 6:30 a.m. The sun is coming up and already there's a line of people, who were probably asleep about an hour ago. But right now, they're wearing florescent, neon-colored tights and headbands and leggings and sunglasses. They look like they're ready for a party.
NATASHA LYTTOM: Hi, I'm Natasha Lyttom.
SHAPIRO: Do you go to raves typically?
LYTTOM: Not at 6:30 in the morning, normally. But I like that everyone's in a really good mood. It's not the kind of sticky, alcohol everywhere in a club dance floor, with guys trying to come and grind up on you, which is what normally happens in raves.
SHAPIRO: After this, do you have a 9-to-5 job that you go to?
LYTTOM: Unfortunately, living the Dolly Parton dream. Don't tell them, I'm not going to be dancing at 6:30 in the morning. I'm a communications manager.
UNIDENTIFIED DJ: So let him know how much you appreciate him.
SHAPIRO: In a typical club, you arrive at some point in the evening and work your way towards more drinks, towards a late night, towards crazy, wild abandon. Here, people are working their way towards the 9 a.m. workday. And yet, the dance floor looks like a rave - people are sober, having just woken up, rocking out.
MEENA MILLER: We've actually had a problem here with people crawling under the bar to come hug me while I'm making smoothies.
SHAPIRO: Meena Miller blends smoothies here. She's the closest thing this party has to a bartender, along with Peter Duggan who makes espresso drinks. He's been here from the beginning, just over a year ago.
PETER DUGGAN: Well, I didn't think it would work. When I - the first few months we were like, oh, yeah, it's over.
SHAPIRO: And now it's in what - like a dozen or so cities around the world?
DUGGAN: Right, yeah. And it just seems to be getting busier and bigger every month.
SHAPIRO: The woman who started this phenomenon is an exuberant 28-year-old named Sam Moyo.
SAM MOYO: What Morning Gloryville's been doing is making happiness and being joyful, cool.
SHAPIRO: Moyo says she used to love clubbing. She had a club kid nickname that's not appropriate for public radio.
MOYO: It was absolutely amazing. I'd be partying for days on end. To be honest, on a mental and emotional level, it wasn't doing me that good. (Laughing) But I did time of my life.
SHAPIRO: She and her friends created Morning Gloryville to try to capture the joy of clubbing without the messiness. These parties have now popped up Bangalore, India and Sydney, Australia. In the U.S., it's taken root in New York and San Francisco. The sunlight is now streaming into the packed and sweaty room. The DJ at the front has cranked up the music all the way. There are dancers on stage, prancing around wearing unicorn horns and fairy wings. Without the booze, people can even bring their kids to this party. Tyler Wagner is wearing a red, sparkly cape - his 6-year-old and 3-year-old where headphones to protect their ears.
TYLER WAGNER: I'm a satellite engineer. And I love taking the kids to events like this because this lets them enjoy their fun, artistic side. They get plenty of their engineering, science side from science at home with dad and mom. So this lets them get out and dance and have a good time.
SHAPIRO: OK, we've done plenty of interviews. The music is still pounding. The dance floor is packed. Enough of the reporting - let's go join the party. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.