Stark raving mad? Aucklanders wake up to the benefits of morning raves

by India Hendrikse / 01 February, 2017
Photography / Charles Buenconsejo

Morning raves are all the rage in Europe. Now, Auckland’s started getting up early too.

Stiletto-clad revellers, barely-awake early commuters and shop owners sluggishly dusting the previous night’s debris from their doorsteps are common sights on Karangahape Road on any given morning. At 6.30am, languor sits heavy in the air, and businesses here embrace a later start time than the rest of the city. If I hadn’t known about the morning rave, I would have barely noticed the people in leggings trickling one by one into St Kevin’s Arcade.

Read: 50 things to do in Auckland for under $20 

Amy: "It’s nice not having to worry about the behaviour of the people around you. It was really nice to feel safe.”

Rather sheepishly, I followed, ignoring the memo about wearing exercise gear and opting for a stifling turtleneck because I hadn’t planned on actually dancing. The electronic music blared out of the stairwell and echoed into the otherwise peaceful arcade. I climbed down the candlelit stairs to Whammy Backroom. A rather excitable man met me at the door, still jigging as he introduced himself. It was Jamie Newman, one-half of the duo behind Morning People, a fortnightly morning rave that began last year.

“Would you like a coffee?” he practically shouted at me. It was barely past seven, there were about 30 people in the room, and the DJ was already very involved in his set. A girl dropped it low nearby, another person headbanged, and others kept their eyes closed, swaying and tapping their feet to the deep bass. Yes. Yes, I would need a coffee.                  

Georgia: “I like the slow progression. It was kind of a chill beat at the beginning, and then it got better.”

Clasping the vessel I was given – a bizarre Princess Diana and Prince Charles special anniversary cup-and-saucer set – I shuffled toward the back of the room and sat down to watch. After a short time, my brow felt sweaty and I figured I may as well join in. Up and bobbing to the electronic beats, I shuffled out of Newman’s way, as he strategically manoeuvred a platter of mandarins about the room. The multi-coloured disco lights and bunting and hot, muggy air tricked my body clock into thinking it was night, so I melted into the mass of pre-work party people, all of us encouraged by Newman, leading the pack with a ferocious rhythm.


Felix: “I struggled to get up early and biked here from Landscape Road. I got up at 5.50am... work starts in 15 minutes.”

Post-rave, I met Newman and creative partner Vanessa Scott for another coffee, but this time in the light of day. Sans sweat, I realised they weren’t the grungy, dishevelled party-hard people I imagined, but clean-cut, both dressed in white shirts and meeting me on their respective lunch breaks. Newman’s been working in the music industry for 20 years, and Scott’s a self-professed “mum-preneur”. They simply just love to dance. The Grey Lynn arm of No Lights No Lycra, a pitch-black Monday night dance party, was their first venture. After realising its success, partying in the early hours on a weekday seemed a natural next step. Popular early-morning raves in cities such as Berlin and London inspired them, and so they began Morning People, Whammy Backroom’s fortnightly morning rave, open to everyone, with just a $10 price tag.

Matt: “It’s kind of weird dancing at this time of the morning when you haven’t been up the night before. But I feel like sober dancing kind of helps with my drunk dancing, so it pays off in that way.”

Scott tired of late nights out – the taxi fares, hangovers and money spent on alcohol – so they’ve stripped back the substances and made the event a sober zone, serving fresh fruit and coffee instead. “We keep the best 90 minutes of the DJ set and take away all the extraneous stuff and just focus on the best part, which for me is the music, the dancing and the people,” she says. She also sees the early morning as a special time of day: “People are really impressionable, you’re in quite a raw state. It’s an innocent part of the day and if you create something very positive at that time, it’s going to take you through the rest of the day in a better frame of mind.” Adds Newman: “We’re finding that a lot of people surprise themselves, and they don’t actually have to get up that much earlier. It’s just about adjusting their schedule to fit it in.”

Patrick: “I’ve been going to nightclubs since I was about 15 and have sort of morphed into being able to do it sober.”

And its popularity is growing. An event featuring electronic band Yoko-Zuna, who treated ravers to Daft Punk covers, attracted around 100 people. The pair says they feel there’s a lot of room for growth, and the eventual goal is to get morning raves happening across the city. “We’ve thought really hard about creating an experience that people really love, and that’s why it’s exciting, because it’s really starting to take off,” says Newman.

 Follow Paperboy on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the weekly e-mail


A big science investment - but where’s the transparency?
99199 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Tech

A big science investment - but where’s the transpa…

by Peter Griffin

An extra $420m is being pumped into the National Science Challenges - but the reasoning behind the increased investment won't be released.

Read more
NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – and a wild past
99182 2018-11-16 13:32:58Z Music

NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – an…

by Donna Chisholm

We revisit this profile on award-winning guitarist Gray Bartlett, who's just released a new album, Platinum!

Read more
Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on what his creation has become
99178 2018-11-16 13:13:08Z Tech

Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on …

by Peter Griffin

"We were just a bunch of engineers trying to make it work. It didn't even occur to us that anybody would want to wreck it," says Vint Cerf.

Read more
Win a double pass to the NZ premiere screening of Mary Queen of Scots
99165 2018-11-16 10:51:28Z Win

Win a double pass to the NZ premiere screening of …

by The Listener

Starring Academy Award nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart.

Read more
Goodside: The North Shore’s new food precinct
99155 2018-11-16 09:33:23Z Auckland Eats

Goodside: The North Shore’s new food precinct

by Alex Blackwood

North Shore residents will have plenty to choose from at Goodside.

Read more
The death of Radio Live
99147 2018-11-16 06:54:48Z Radio

The death of Radio Live

by Colin Peacock

14 years after launching “the new voice of talk radio”, MediaWorks will silence Radio Live. Mediawatch looks at what could replace it.

Read more
Should Lime scooters stay or should they go?
99103 2018-11-16 00:00:00Z Social issues

Should Lime scooters stay or should they go?

by The Listener

For every safety warning, there’ll be a righteous uproar about the public good regarding the environment. It's about finding the right balance.

Read more
Kiwi drama Vermilion is hamstrung by a frustrating lack of clarity
98992 2018-11-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Kiwi drama Vermilion is hamstrung by a frustrating…

by James Robins

Academic and film-maker Dorthe Scheffmann has had a hand in some of New Zealand cinema’s most beloved movies. So what went wrong?

Read more