Clean raving: how club culture went wild for wellness

The stench of dead flesh and discarded bones wafts through a chattering crowd dressed in sequins, wacky wigs and neon Lycra. It’s 7am, and hundreds of ticket holders are waiting near Brixton’s meat market to enter a “rooftop beach” venue in south London.

They’re here for the fourth birthday of Morning Gloryville, an event that pitches itself as “a non-alcoholic rave”. The crowd here includes everyone from young families to yuppies, Instagramming teens, and Ibiza casualties who have traded in booze and drugs for protein bars and bikram. The rave is held in a big open plan space, decked out with posters that read: “I am in charge of how I feel and today I’m choosing happiness”. As the morning unfolds, the scene becomes increasingly bizarre. Couples kiss as if it were New Year’s Eve; a grown woman holds a bucket and spade; there are impromptu yoga sessions, head massages, and a polyamorous collective appears, dressed as glittery unicorns. All the while, Fatboy Slim DJs in a Lucha libre mask.

Extroverts are everywhere, and I have the lurching feeling that if I lock eyes with anyone long enough they might rope me into something I don’t want to do: dancing on stage to Balearic house, for instance, while holding an inflatable slice of watermelon. Everyone is, of course, stone cold sober.

The heaving crowd is a sign of something bigger: the current appetite for combining music events and healthy living. Morning Gloryville was set up by Samantha Moyo who, having left hedonistic days behind her, wanted to keep seeking the communal thrills and escapism of raving. Her parties soon went from passion project to a fully functioning empire, often attracting big-name DJs who have abandoned the excessive lifestyle that can come with being a touring musician, including Roger Sanchez and Fatboy Slim.

The absence of bar profits might have represented an impossible financial hit for Moyo’s parties, had the stars not aligned in other areas. The popularity of the events has rocketed as the trend for clean living has grown – a trend that is captured on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, with images of Morning Gloryville’s parties spreading out across social media.

The unexpected relationship between clubbing and clean living has been building for a few years now. In 2014, for example, there was a craze for voga, a fitness class combining yoga and voguing. Then there is Ministry of Sound’s role. Eric Prydz’s notoriously raunchy aerobic video for the song Call On Me led to Ministry creating a series of wildly successful workout compilations, and this year it even opened its own workout space in south London, with a club-standard sound system. But the latest wave is more bohemian. It includes the club Awakening, a “conscious rave” where cacao and smoothies are served, there are classes in hip-hop hot yoga, and meditation sessions are accompanied by expert gong practitioner Mona Ruijs of Sound Interventions. In the last few weeks alone I have been alerted to an event that combines “guided group meditation” with “classic album listening parties”; a music festival that boasts a pop-up eco spa; another with a “deep listening, meditation and laughter” class; and an album by a singer who is also described as a “sound therapist”. The party picture website The Cobrasnake – once a photo stream of It girls and fashion freaks at clubs and gigs – recently turned its attention away from hedonism to concentrate instead on its Cobra Fitness hiking club.

Read more at The Guardian.