There’s nothing wrong with throwing in the towel at midnight, if that’s your vibe. But there’s a certain sense of accomplishment, pride even, that comes with pushing the party to sunrise and beyond.
Part of it is being impressed by—and grateful for—your own body. The same one that’s been getting back pains in the morning (admit it, aging millennial) somehow made it through a night of pumping and twirling. It’s also a bit of a middle finger to biological necessities, social norms, and capitalist habits. No, I did not get my eight hours of sleep. Yes, I know plenty of people feel like they have better things to do. And maybe I did call in sick for work. Guess what—I don’t regret any of it, and will likely do it all again as soon as I can.
More important, at least in my opinion, is the shared sense of just getting it done and making it happen with the rest of the people on the dance floor. We made it, and we’re happy we did. It’s like waking up next to someone you love, except there are more people and you didn’t sleep.
If you've ever wanted to go on dancing until sunrise and then some, I have good news—it’s a skill you can learn. I know this because it’s a skill I’ve learned. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to experience parties that I frankly never wanted to end. I went from being equal parts shocked, curious, and jealous at the sight of people who could keep the party going to finding myself thinking that 6 a.m. is when the party really gets started. Now, I’m happy to share some tips I’ve picked up from the people who taught me.
Before that, though, let’s get the pink elephant out of the room. Of course, some people use various drugs to stay up and at it through weekend raves, festivals, and afters. MDMA is a popular choice. So is cocaine. There are, however, other ways to keep the party going.
Music is the answer
Perhaps the single most important factor to dancing all night is actually liking the music you’re dancing to. Forget staying until the sun rises—if you don’t have the right music, it’s difficult to get past even the first hour.
Of course, the “right” music depends on you. There are people who love house, and people who prefer dark techno. Some like a tasteful trip through the genres as they make their way through the night, then blast high-energy, high-BPM bangers as sunrise approaches.
Finding the right music is synonymous with finding the right clubs, festivals, and DJs. Do you like the energy of the Philippines’s Elephant, the organic vibes of Vietnam’s Equation, or the beats of Hong Kong’s Mihn? It might take some time, and trial and error, but when you find the right ones, you best hold on to them.
Sleep is for the weak, naps are for the smart
Another secret to staying up all night is, well, staying in all day. I’m no biologist, but it seems simple enough—the less energy you spend before you party, the most energy you’ll have to spend while you party.
On the day before a rave, for example, I might sleep in past my usual wake time. Then I might work out, just so I can eat a big meal and take an afternoon-long nap. If the rave is on a weekend and I’ve had a long week, I’ll go ahead and skip the workout. The key is to get up as close as possible to the time you want to start raving.
If you’re not able to nap during the day, don’t worry—you can also nap at night.
Once, when I rejoined a festival past sunrise, after getting a full night’s sleep, someone asked what took me so long. They saw me walking back to the campsites the previous night, but thought I was only going to sleep for a few minutes then come back. An intra-party power nap, so to speak, as opposed to calling it a night. “Do people do that?” I asked. Yes, apparently. I do now, too.
What you do to start late is up to you. Maybe you’ll make like a hermit for as long as possible and turn up at the club past midnight. Maybe you and your friends will have a nice, long dinner at home before finally heading out. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you eventually get to the party—and make it to sunrise. Because if not, what’s the point?
Eat something, for crying out loud
There’s a common party legend that taking drugs on an empty stomach gets you feeling higher. I don’t know about that. But you know what else an empty stomach gets you? Tired.
Have a proper meal before you party. Don’t eat too little that you’ll have no fuel to dance, or you get acidic on the dance floor. But don’t eat too much that dancing will make you throw up. Then you’ll really have to leave the party.
While you’re at it, drink some water. Some partygoers carry oral rehydration salts in their fanny packs to stay hydrated as they sweat.
Have some (legal) drugs handy
A clogged nose, hyperacidity, dry eyes, bruises and splinters, and other bodily realities can break your flow and ruin your mojo.
I’m not a medical doctor (or a doctor of anything, for that matter), but I’ve never seen anybody regret having some over-the-counter antihistamine, antacid, eye drops, bandages, and other medicines handy during a party. They might not only save your night, but also someone else’s.
Pace is power
If you’re going to the right parties, chances are you’ll be excited to be there.
But the party will only get even more exciting through the night if you play your cards right. Don’t go zero to a hundred right at the get-go, or you’ll burn out quickly. Make like a patient DJ and start slow to work your way up.
Ease your body into the dancing (remember those back pains), pick which songs you go absolutely ham to, and take breaks throughout the night.
Slip into something more comfortable
Lastly, choosing the right armor is half the battle.
Wear something that will keep you comfortable and appropriately warm or cool throughout the night. Maybe it’s a breezy kimono or cover-all caftan, or maybe it’s a harness and jockstrap. If you can wear it all night, that’s what you should do.
But it’s sometimes not enough to be comfortable in your outfit. It’s good to know that you look good in it, too. The better you feel about yourself, the more you’ll feel like sticking around.
Follow Romano Santos on Instagram.