Morning People, Whammy Bar, Auckland. All photos: Sarah Pollok

A rave review: getting down at sunrise dance party Morning People

An early-morning rave session isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but for aficionados there’s no better way to start the day than at the regular Morning People events in Auckland and Wellington. Sarah Pollok went along to find out whether she could become a convert.

The electro-funk baseline rocks through your body as you stand in the centre of the dancefloor. Lights flash, sweat drips and any concept of personal space is lost in the dizzying sea of people. Some go hard; shimmying, shaking and dropping it lower than you could get back up from, while others keep it chill, swaying side-to-side with a drink in hand.

You don’t know what it is, but for some reason, the vibes at K Rd’s Whammy Bar are the best they’ve ever been. Maybe it’s the fly tunes of DJ Loop De Loop, the endless supply of free drinks or the fact that it’s 6.37… AM.

Welcome to the peculiar world of Morning People, a sunrise rave dedicated to starting the workday with the high only a bangin’ d-floor can provide. Inspired by a trend born in Europe, founders Jamie Newman and Vanessa Scott decided to bring Kiwis the good vibes of nightclubs, without the late nights and dusty hangovers.

So, every Wednesday, at the fresh time of 6.30am, Aucklanders rally at Whammy Bar, while Wellingtonians (not to be left out of anything so alternative) head to Club 121. This week, I was one of them.

Woken by alarm two of four, I blindly feel for my phone and pray the friend dragging me along has overslept. No such luck. Despite morning moodiness, I can’t help but feel the beginnings of excitement driving through the silent Auckland streets. Whether it’s because of the imminent dance party or the novelty of a traffic-less motorway, I’m unsure.

If you weren’t in the know it would be easy to wander right past Whammy Bar’s front door, none the wiser that just below your feet people were grooving the early hours away. But after taking a few steps down the winding staircase, we hear the unmistakable “untz untz untz” of a drum and bass set.

We’re met by Newman, who is sporting a “party first, work later” t-shirt and the cheery smile that only a true morning person can wield at such an hour. We hand over our $15, which buys us bottomless Altezano Brothers coffee, Lokal kombucha, free fruit and, of course, the musical magic of DJ Loop De Loop. I grab a banana and survey the room.

Like any other club, the dance floor is separated into the classic tribes. You’ve got the awkward first-timers who mill at the edge of the room, clutching their kombucha and probably wishing it was something stronger. Amid them bob the perfect ponytails of the yoga squad. Identifiable by the logos of activewear they’ll probably sport the entire day, they rarely stray far from their fellow gals. They fill me with a mix of utter admiration and crippling fear I will one day be one of them, but the ’80s jazzercise mamas are a sight to behold. Decked out in black leggings and sneakers, these women clearly mean business, pumping their limbs with a vigour that sees the odd sequin shake free from their bedazzled shirts. Finally, you have the work-casuals, who have, for reasons unfathomable, braved the crowd in full business attire. I spot them often near the free drinks and food, and decide they’re the kind of wallflowers who are happy simply standing back and taking in the vibe.

With tribes identified and kombucha drunk, it’s time to decide: sway on the sidelines or bust moves like I’m four GnTs deep. The decision is made easier by knowing that any facade of cool was already lost by voluntarily attending a 6.30am rave. Luckily for me, everyone here was crazy enough to as well.

So I dance. I pop it, lock it, shimmy and shake my Nike hotpants until the attractive level of sweatiness has been far surpassed. Just a few tunes later, it’s somehow already 7.50am and time to bow out.  Flooded with endorphins, I practically skip to work with the smug smile of a ‘morning person’.

So… the verdict? If you’re set on an early sweat session, Morning People undoubtedly beats the gym. And for anyone who loves nothing more than a dance floor, it’s an utter treat. As for me, it turns out no amount of feel-good groovin’ or free kombucha will win against the snooze button. Instead, you’ll find me at No Lights No Lycra, the Morning People for those who aren’t, well, morning people, NLNL is all about good vibes and a great dance floor, at a more agreeable time of 7.30…pm.

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