Tech + Health

05.08.14

The Drug-Free Breakfast Rave Is New York’s Latest Exercise Trend

Forget SoulCycle—the newest fitness craze is early morning raving, complete with DJs, costumes, and organic smoothies.

By 6:30 a.m., New Yorkers in sparkly spandex gathered at the entrance of Kinfolk 94 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They weren’t dreggy spillovers from a hard night of debauchery, but in-the-know attendees of “Morning Gloryville,” powered by a night of sleep and ready to rave their way into the day.

Greeted with hugs and adorned with Hawaiian leis, some attendees (branded “citizens”) opted for massages from “Wake Up Angels.” Others rushed to the bar for coffee, or to the “Juice Witches” counter, which served nutritious potions with orange juice, mango, pineapple, and quinoa. The rest went straight to the dance floor, with its dappled daylight from the skylight, and an exposed brick walls lit with a projector simulating a clouded sunrise.

Tasha Blank played fast and bouncy house beats with heart-shaped balloons tied to the DJ booth. Her friend, rapper and performer AKil, riled up the crowd. “The first morning glory is glorious,” he cried. When calling for a response to, “What’s the best place to be right now?” there was a wholehearted chorus of “Here!” from the hipsters, professionals, yogis, creatives, thespians, and some curious passers-by who bought tickets at the door.

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Matthew Gilbertson

While the debate over the legalization of drugs raged on across America, it seemed the stigma of irresponsible raving was taking a hit from Morning Gloryville.

“I had to fake a doctor’s appointment because normally I start work at 8,” said one blonde from the marketing department of a midtown bank, grooving in her Isabel Marant wedge-heeled sneakers. “I just hope I remember to take off my entry wristband!”

A tech start-up brunette dressed in workout gear wasn’t as worried: “My manager went to Flavor Pill the other day at lunch, so it’s totally cool if I’m late,” she laughed. “I just wish my outfit wasn’t so boring.”

“I thought I’d wear my suit, whatever,” said the Australian lawyer bopping toward the back, complete with silk Chanel scarf.

It was hard to distinguish between the motivational dance team and the enthusiastic citizens, liberated by the endorphin high of sharing sober dance moves and small talk with strangers.

Many had wacky and wonderful festival attire, including wigs, perhaps from the Robot Heart party—a gathering of Burning Man attendees—the Saturday gone. “Dress to sweat” had been the official dress code. And one citizen was doing a lot of it. “I hope everyone showers after this,” he smiled, boasting that his bracelet activity monitor showed 440 calories down after an hour. It was hard to distinguish between the motivational dance team and the enthusiastic citizens, liberated by the endorphin high of sharing sober dance moves and small talk with strangers. That dance floor was the lovechild of Burning Man and Soul Cycle.

One girl visiting from London was a fan of the original Morning Gloryville, which began in Shoreditch last May and has grown to monthly gatherings of around 800. She had even brought her mother. “Some people bring their kids to the London ones, with sound-proof headphones,” she said.

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Matthew Gilbertson

The beats from the next DJ, Zev, were soulful. As an organic farmer on the side, he was feeding off the early start and fresh juices. A citizen grabbed the microphone to lead a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her friend. Then she cried out, “If you’re about to have the best day of your life, make some noise!” and everyone cheered.

Samantha Moyo, a founder of London’s Morning Glory, tells people, “Go to an interview after Morning Gloryville and you will get the job. If not, money back guarantee.” A British stylist in fuchsia tights and a leopard print leotard seemed to have faith. “I’m going to the fucking U.N. after, not dressed like this obviously,” she said. “I’m talking to them about an app I think they’ll be interested in.”

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Matthew Gilbertson

The 200 citizens were all beaming as they left, taking their positive energy with them, hangover free. Some would no doubt keep dancing as they waited for the L train, hankering for the next episode of Morning Gloryville. (It’s set for June 18, with a venue big enough for yoga.)

And the Morning Gloryville phenomenon isn’t stopping at New York; the parties are launching in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney, Perth, and Zagreb this summer, and in more cities across the globe by the end of the year.

Breakfast raving, or “Braving,” as it will no doubt become known, is set to get the whole world confident with dancing sober.