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I Woke Up Like This

A dawn light spills through the window. Someone dances in that spotlight sunbeam. The collective groove builds until the DJ drops the beat and all the bare feet in the room bounce on the surging bass, suddenly urgent. No, this isn’t a wee-hours after-party. It’s a Wednesday and these people are at a full-moon, morning rave before work.

Wait, what?

I know. Raving in the morning, sober, sounds foreign, maybe counter-intuitive, possibly unnecessary. But let me tell you, it happens and it’s necessary. People love it. I’m one of those people.

I spoke to some other morning ravers like myself to pinpoint what it is about this unique, and uniquely Gizzy, event that has us coming back. Firstly, it’s welcoming! Gizzy Local’s Sarah and the other early-arrivers are happy to see us, however and why-ever we turn up. Some people are still sleepy, while some dress up, like myself and friend Isaac who once donned a sequined top that was like wardrobe caffeine. Some wear flowy clothes that could be work-ready, while others use the session as self-directed, musical yoga, and are in stretchy leggings and a singlet. The how and why couldn’t matter less. The magic is that we’re here together.

When the music starts, the ways in which people approach the music is as unique as the fashion. Most of the time, my eyes are closed, because I’ve dialled into my own dance frequency. But sometimes my eyes open and I’m greeted by a party mix of dance styles. Somebody’s bouncing, another person is deep into a robot, someone has found their way to the floor and is using this groove to stretch things out, and another person is on the couch, subtly dancing from the waist up, drinking a coffee and tapping their toes.

As my friend Isaac says, “I like how inclusive it is. It’s welcoming, especially to people who don’t think they can dance. At a regular party, there’s pressure to dance. So in order to do that, you need to drink more. But with this, you just turn up and do what you want.” And that’s how I feel too. There’s a level of performance at a regular dance party: get out there and be a sexy cocktail of hipness and grace. But don’t look like you’re trying.

At a regular dance party, I question myself. Do I look cool enough? Am I too sweaty? Are these moves outdated, lame? The inner critic is loud. However, at Gizzy Local, for this short hour, there’s no expectation to be or do anything else. What you’re bringing to the party is the exact right thing. Leave your inner critic at the door.

A morning rave isn’t that different from things that already exist in my life. I sometimes exercise in the mornings in various ways, and a morning rave ticks a lot of those same boxes for heart rate, calories burned, and steps. I know, because once, out of curiosity, I tracked my stats on my fitness watch.

But as my friend, Amanda (and fellow morning raver) points out, “dancing in the morning lacks any type of suffering that often comes with fitness classes. Don’t get me wrong,” she says. “There are times when that suffering is a metaphor for things I want to build in myself, like resilience or the power to push through when things are hard.” She’s nailed it; for all the little beads of sweat that I make during a dance party, I suffer for none of them.

And it’s not just about what it lacks. There’s what it’s got, like happy energy in spades. Amanda puts it like this: “It’s so rare that we join an environment where people are so unified in a common happiness.” She’s exactly right. It’s not complicated here. During this hour, we arrive ready to be happy, in the same way that you might arrive at the yoga class ready to decompress or at the gym ready to sweat. It’s the same kind of intention, but one focussed on bliss. Amanda adds, “And when we leave, we take our individual orbits of bliss out into the world, making the world a little bit happier with each person we interact with.”

Another thing it’s got: great music! The dancers don’t get to this happy place on their own. The highly-skilled, local DJs take us on a 60 minute vibe journey. The DJs are key to what make this event uniquely Gizzy. Raves seem to be having a little moment here in Gizzy, thanks to a growing community of DJs with party-ready sound systems and eclectic libraries of tunes. Isaac again, “I like supporting these local artists. They’re really good! And they’re tuned-in to us. They don’t expect us to get right into it. There are warm-up tunes that match the energy. ” But soon, the DJ shifts through the gears, layering samples on top of electrifying beats, jet-setting us via world music that at once sounds exotic but perfectly at home in this moment, tightening the tension and then blissfully dropping the beat.

There’s a box that the dance party ticks that regular things don’t: I like to be a little crazy at times. I’m not a stranger to a winter ocean dip or a run under a bright, full moon. Life’s too short not to sprinkle in thrill and the delight of what feels like a little rule-breaking. And as Amanda notes, “Getting up at 6 am to rave with happy people before work breaks all the rules.”

In my younger days, (and currently, if I’m being honest), the easy way to generate thrill is with alcohol. I could (and do) lose all my inhibitions and become the life of the party by the second beer. I’ve spent a stupid amount of time and energy on this planet reaching for a sense of cool that feels always out of my grasp. Second-Beer Sarah always feels cool. So I let her take the lead.

But in recent years, I’ve reckoned with a tough question: is Second-Beer Sarah the one that everyone likes? Can I be that jubilant version without 2 beers? Can I make thrilling moments by arriving in the moment with the intent to be thrilled? Can I find euphoria on a Wednesday before work?

I recently heard a podcaster talking about an ultra-cool 90s rock star as having “zero ambition to be anything other than what she was, and people couldn’t get enough of her.” And that’s what the morning raves do for me. I turn up with zero ambition to be anything but thrilled by this hour of infectious, dynamic music. I add dancing in the morning before work as another set of rules I get to break.

As Amanda says, a smile in her voice, “I’m not gonna lie. The coffee is a nice draw, too.”

By Sarah Holliday Pocock

Gizzy Local's next morning rave, "I Woke Up Like This" is on Thursday August 31, at 6:30am. $10 on the door, Far East coffee flowing & beats by A.M. Graham. See you there!


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