Now this kind of article makes me very happy 🙂 The Guardian covered the rise of the sober rave in March and here’s what they had to say:
A drink called a summer love cup is shoved into my hand. Containing a colourful spectrum of orange, strawberry, apple, mint, lemonade and orange blossom, this sugary concoction could have been served at a school disco. In reality, I’m at something just a little more adult: a sober rave in Hackney. In recent years, these events have been cropping up around the world, from Sober Sweden in Stockholm to UK rave nights such as Awakening, We Are One, Right Here Right Now, Love is Key and perhaps the grandaddy of them all, Morning Gloryville.
With positive energy, mindfulness and wellness all buzzwords in 2016, there is a strong new-age spirituality element at these parties. But are these conscious nightclubs a nascent trend or just another fly-by-night fad?
Samantha Moyo, the “founding mother” of Morning Gloryville, began putting on these shows with a friend in May 2013. As a former hedonist, he idea came to her as a “vision of conscious clubbing”. For her, a Morning Gloryville event “bridges the gap between the spiritual getting-into-your-body feel, and a ‘let’s go out and party’ vibe”.
“I have a very famous history of being the wildest party animal ever,” Moyo says with a wry smile. “It got to a point where it was feeling unsustainable. There was no outlet or option where you could go out and dance, while not drinking alcohol or [having] any toxins around. The only things that were available were ecstatic rhythms and vibrant dance, which was great – they have more of a spiritual aspect.”
Three years on, the likes of Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx have played sets at Morning Gloryville, while Moyo oversees events taking place in 23 locations worldwide – including two in London. Without the profit from booze sales, however, they’ve had their obstacles.
“We’ve had to be creative in terms of our business and approach [to Morning Gloryville] because we want this to be something sustainable,” Moyo says. “We’re operating in an industry that is run and solely dependent on alcohol sales. This is our greatest challenge as a new economy develops.”
“We make sure that we make enough and pay everyone for their time,” Moyo says of cutting costs. “We can’t pay the DJs at their normal rates and the same goes for the dancers, performers and everyone else on our team.”
So, with the absence of inebriation, is there anything added to help sustain these sorts of events? When I arrive at Morning Gloryville on a chilly Saturday morning in West London, the concept seems surreal. By 9.30am 750 or so free spirits/paying punters of all ages have arrived to dance to DJ sets from Loose Cannons and Eddy Temple-Morris . I’m greeted with a hug from one of the “greeting angels” and as I stroll towards the dance area I notice a glitter face-painting booth. There’s also a yoga space, massage station, a superfood and smoothie bar and a coffee kiosk. As for the attendees, they’re here in different shapes and sizes. Fancy dress costumes? Yep. Exercise enthusiasts? You bet. Man on bongos? Unicorns? Check and check. If you subscribe to the bohemian, clean-living, mindfulness lifestyle, then Morning Gloryville appears to have it all under one roof.
Shaft Uddin previously worked in the world of advertising. Having left his job and sold most of his earthly possessions to form a collective called the Fabulus Unicorns, a group of people who attend these events bare-chested and with horns on their heads. “I was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and Morning Gloryville is a place where I dance myself happy,” says Uddin. “I was really depressed and it’d eat me up, asking ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ This has helped enhance my positive energy that I have as a unicorn commanding a room, helping everyone dance.”
There’s stats to back up sober clubbing’s potential longevity, too: according to the Office for National Statistics, more than one in five adults (21%) do not drink alcohol at all, based on the Adult Drinking Habits in Great Britain report released in February last year. While many get sozzled on a Saturday night on the town, increasingly more people are getting into the idea that it’s possible to have fun without the need for alcohol or drugs.
At the closing stages of the event, I’m feeling danced and hugged out. Aside from the benefits of experiencing a club environment without the lures of alcohol, the overwhelming friendliness, love and euphoria you witness is rarely shared anywhere else in the clubbing industry (Boy George, who hosted a dry club night called Godspeed said of its attendees: “You wouldn’t believe how life-affirming it is to be in a club where there is no animosity, no attitude, no arseholes”). I leave feeling fulfilled rather than beleaguered by the experience, which is the reason so many keep coming back. Well, that and the vegan chocolate ganache cake. And the unicorns.
What’s not to love? 😉