Raves used to be illegal, going on all night in secret locations. Now raves are happening early in the morning to prepare commuters for a busy day at work. Sound a bit barmy? The Dawn Ravers, perhaps taking a leaf from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, are calling it “conscious clubbing.” There is no alcohol on sale and no drugs, which is just as well at 6am in the morning when most workers are thinking more about coffee and cereal. The only highs on offer are the natural ones brought on by loud music, dancing and all-round feelings of euphoria.
Kicking off the day with a rave is said to be a great boost to creativity, and it has attracted a lot of followers who work in the new tech industries and also a fair share of more traditional professionals, including lawyers, doctors and company bosses. All ages are welcome, and some turn up with small children. Sessions start off with some nice gentle yoga, stretches and massage. After a healthy fruit smoothie, the music gets pumped up and the dancing begins. By 7am, when a lot of folk are wearingly reaching out to silence an alarm, the before-work clubbers are giving all their best moves on the floor. The idea has taken off in eleven cities so far, and is expected to grow as the morning raves appeal becomes better known.
It is a part of the so-called “mindful living” movement, which seeks to break the bonds of the old, dull, suit-and-tie approach to work, and by extension, life. The only real purpose of the rave is to make its participants happy, and it is believed if they head into work buzzing with happiness, their day will be more productive and their output will be smarter. Morning Gloryville, the company behind the raves in London, states that their aim is not to simply exist but to “be truly alive in each moment.” They say they strive to awaken themselves, but they also want a sense of community and to be “present” with “every fibre of our being.”
Dawn raves could be a sign that a more relaxed and playful attitude towards the workplace, familiar now from tech company and start-up operations, is spreading. Technology is now the most powerful business engine of them all, and their influence could be enough to change the way everyone else thinks about work. Enthusing and encouraging staff is seen to be important, much more so than the previous attitudes of treating employees as faceless automatons. The quality of ideas and contributions matters more now than whether a person clocked in a few minutes late. The fact that they have just walked in elated from a morning rave would be applauded, not abhorred.
This year, 2014, is marked to be the Year of Mindful Living, according to Wisdom 2.0 conference founder, Soren Gordhamer. Speaking to the New York Times, Gordhamer said regaining a sense of being connected to nature and to each other is what is craved by many. It is counter to the constant pressures of being entertained and stimulated, which technology has afforded. Mindfulness, or focus on the present moment, is a trend that has also been identified by marketing giant JWT. Ann Mack, who is their director for trend-spotting, believes it has “trickled down” from its spiritual associations and is now quite mainstream.
Raving your way into the day has taken off in New York where the hipster neighborhood of Williamsburg has been an early adopter. On their Facebook page, the immersive experience is advertised as only for the bRave. Wake-up Angels are there to help the sober sleepyheads get into party mode, and will even dunk a head in a bucket of icy water if that’s what it takes to get kickstarted. Participants have posted glowing reviews of their early-morning dancing, and many report they could not stop smiling all day.
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, San Francisco, Toyko and Zurich are some of the other cities that are spearheading the trend to dance before hitting the desk. While turning up in PJs is OK, showing up to the office like that is not, so there are cloakrooms to change in. As hundreds of people tend to turn up in fancy costumes more often seen at festivals, this can be the ultimate Clark Kent reversal process. Swapping the stimulants usually used on a night out for a more cleansing spirulina smoothie is no deterrent, it seems, to getting people to shed their inhibitions and shake their booty. Founder Sam Moyo says she is neither anti-booze nor anti-party, but she wanted to make a venue where people could find their “real selves.”
Moyo says that movement and dancing is tribal, and it can shake a lot of negative energy out of the system. The postive energy generated by the ravers then goes on to have a “ripple effect” infecting everyone else they meet throughout the day. Even just a few years ago, the concept of going to dawn raves as a superior way to approach the working day would have sounded crazy. Now, though, it is the newest corporate craze.
By Kate Henderson