Jonny Chadwick is being sent on the weirdest and worst clubbing experiences possible at the behest of THUMP.
After going to the Maggie Thatcher-themed club night in west London, Maggie's Club, and "The Worst Night Club In Europe", Klute, we thought it would be funny to send him to a pre-work, midweek "rave" full of hippies and babies.
This article was originally published in THUMP UK.
It's a defining trait of the Western middle classes to re-imagine their hobbies as something more than just fun. Rather than calling a summer-long trip to Southeast Asia a long holiday, it's "travelling," adding a sense of spirituality to fishbowls, elephant rides, and drunken tattoos. Drugs are not taken to make the drop sound bigger or to forget about a terrible working week, they're to discover a part of the self that was previously unattainable. They don't turn off their location services to save battery, it's to "just get away from it all."
Morning Gloryville, London's "breakfast rave," is about as good an example of this as you are likely to find. On any random night in a market town bar, the Empire Of The Sun song "We Are The People" might come on. Most people won't react; a couple might go, "Remember this song from Year 10?" and some zany character might even sing along to the chorus. At Oval Space on a dreary May Wednesday morning though, this is a transcendental experience. Girls in neon throw their arms around men in dubious Native American headgear, look into each others' eyes and earnestly sing "We are the people who rule the world!" The fact that they're probably not far off is mildly terrifying.
The idea of the event is to allow busy professionals to have the clubbing experience they miss out on in an evening due to their hectic work schedule, Pilates classes and anxiety about sleep debt. Running from 6:30AM to 10:30AM, the event is a cross between a relatively standard clubbing experience (albeit with a horrible, hippie psytrance aesthetic) and an exercise class, with an added dose of aggressively positive self-help. As is to be expected with this sort of twee, complimentary "feels" vibe, there is no alcohol on sale—but smoothies, organic snacks, yoga mats and free massages.
On the ones and twos is Rob Da Bank, the BBC Radio 1 DJ and brains behind Bestival who still gets away with calling himself Rob Da Bank. Mixing nondescript house music with Paul Simon, he sends the crowd into frenzy with every drop. It's not exactly dancing, though. More like playing hopscotch with only squares 2 and 3.
That accounts for about 80% of the crowd, people jumping around and having a whale of a time. However, as this is a place where every personality disorder is indulged, there is a significant minority of 'Bravers' doing their own thing. A saxophonist in a onesie meanders through the crowd, punctuating his journey with targeted bursts of sincere noodle-ing, and a middle-aged Shaggy from Scooby Doo lookalike cuts through with a series of moves that look like he's buffering.
The real heads though aren't content with the designated dance floor, hoisting themselves up on stage to show off their unorthodox shapes and extravagant fancy dress. While pretty much everyone is sporting at least some neon and glitter, there isn't one uniform look. Styles range from 'zebra Willy Wonka' to 'human ice cream van', and 'unicorn Sebastian Tellier'.
One lost generation is regrettable, but the decision of so many of these obnoxiously satisfied, early morning revellers to bring along their children is questionable. Most parents are obliging in asking for photos, holding up their children to show that neon hippie vibes transcend generations. The infant reaction to Rob Da Bank's mix is diverse. One little girl leaping gleefully around the stage for pretty much the entire morning, while on the other end of the spectrum (and room), a glum little tyke sits with his dad's Urbanears on, watching cartoons on an iPad.
Sporting their pyjamas and various magical accessories the kids do look pretty cute, and make me wonder whether it is as weird as it first seemed to bring them to a big colourful room, with happy songs and healthy snacks. But then I realise these are the ones that will grow up to wear 'Make Love, Not War" t-shirts, have dreadlocks and do poi.
On one hand, Morning Gloryville is relatively innocent, a collection of people who are quite genuine in their passion for jumping around in bright clothing before going to work. However, there's a weird, all-consumingly smug attitude around the whole thing. The inescapable self-help sticky notes on the walls, the dictatorial dietary options, the pointedly yuppie supplementary activities, and the 'what you want, when you want it' consumerist nature of clubbing in the morning. After all, everything else in London is designed for these people, why should they get their own club too?
Jonny really hates doing this crap: @jonnychadwick93