The Old Street roundabout, in Shoreditch, east London, is at the centre of a thriving start-up scene. Clustered round it are technology companies bursting with bright young things, hell-bent on becoming London’s next big success story. As you can imagine, having all that creativity crammed into a small space often leads to radical strokes of genius: mix this with Shoreditch’s rich artistic culture and the results can be startling.
One of the latest bleeding-edge projects to come out of this creative pressure cooker is Morning Glory, an early morning rave held on Wednesdays. According to the organisers, “free improvised dancing in space uniquely wakes up your body, mind and creativity and will leave feeling more energised and alive than you could ever imagine”.
This alcohol- and drug-free morning extravaganza has become an instant hit with young office workers and those with entrepreneurial spirit. As someone who works for a hip young media company in the approximate vicinity of Old Street roundabout and as someone who often lacks full functionality in the early hours, I went along this morning to check out the glory.
The night before Morning Glory, I prepared myself by drinking slutty cocktails. Any initial enthusiasm for the forthcoming morning excursion was drowned by the growing awareness that I was going to have to dance sober. A grim realisation dawned that the sooner I went to bed the sooner I’d have to discover my spirit animal and let it guide me in dance.
I headed to the bar for another drink.
A 6.00 am start, a car ride to east London and I was at the gates of Morning Glory.
On the way in, participants are encouraged to stretch. This young lady recommended a slow-motion groin thrust.
I dropped my bag off the luggage check, and stepped into an intense atmosphere of pounding house music.
I decided to kick things off by drinking a green smoothie. I can’t remember its exact ingredients but I seem to remember seeing the words “lime” and “kale”. The rush was instant. I can’t understand why people have been taking ecstasy all these years when they could have been downing delicious green smoothies. Baffling, really.
As the DJ laid down heavy beats I made my way to the dance floor and eased myself into things with a few awkward selfies.
After a few minutes, I tried to let go and surrender myself to the music. I raised my hands to the sky, but it was to no avail. I just couldn’t find a way to let my body be free.
Try as I might, this Vine shows my struggle to get into the groove.
The saucy dancers at the front whipped up the crowd into a frenzy.
I had a brief conversation with someone calling himself “the King”.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I headed over to the yoga area and spent some time releasing tension.
The yoga did the trick. With my body reprogrammed I hit the dance floor and unleashed the moves.
It was a truly communal experience.
As we swelled toward a moment of pure euphoria, one of the event’s promoters grabbed the mic and articulated our collective emotions. “We’re just going to take some time now to get into our bodies”, “You’re all so beautiful”, “Touch some of the people around you, let’s have some body contact”, “Let’s just be grateful for being here”.
And then: “Sorry if this is sounding like a church service.”
There was no need for her to apologise; it was truly a religious experience.
An email from my boss signalled the end of my wild morning. It was time to return to the world outside.
On the way out I was handed a bottle of mango-infused coconut water. I downed that bad boy and hydrated my energised body, ready for the day ahead.
I stumbled, blinking into the light, my limbs free, my eyes dazzled, my head throbbing in the pure breeze of the morning’s bright promise.
Additional reporting by Enda Crowley.