It was 7:30 a.m. on a wintry Montreal morning, but the line-up of youngs clutching yoga mats inside Loft Hotel on Sherbrooke Street threatened to spill out onto the street. “Do you have any idea how amazing you are?” beamed a hand-drawn sign hanging in the front window.
Inside the venue space, neon spandex-clad bodies gyrated to house music and sipped on mason jars of freely flowing iced kombucha. Against the back wall, instructors lead yoga sessions above this din, while massage therapists plied their trade upstairs. Photographers and camera men circled the room hungrily as a Global News crew filed a live report.
That was the scene at Morning Gloryville Montreal’s inaugural morning rave on Thursday, the local outpost of an upstart party franchise – nay, a “global movement” – launched in London in spring 2013 that has now spread to more than a dozen cities world-wide.
“We’re revolutionizing partying, turning clubbing on its head and bringing it out of the darkness and into the light,” co-founder Samantha Moyo proclaimed during a recent TEDx talk. “It’s about adults having play and fun.”
The business model, however, is much more down to Earth. In exchange for a cut of ticket sales, the central Morning Gloryville office in London provides its local affiliate with a set of brand materials and best practices as well as the required PR push—a party-in-a-box, essentially. A “glory agent” in each city then executes this plan. There are network effects at play, as agents from different cities are able to communicate, pick each other’s brains and share what works, so that they’re not constantly re-inventing the wheel in each city. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to attract local brands, such as Rise Kombucha, that are eager to reach this captive audience.
“It’s a model that allows this event to scale,” Justin Smith, the glory agent who the Montreal team of volunteers behind the event, later told me. “Right now, no one’s getting paid—it’s a startup.” Yet aside from the DJs, who were getting paid, Morning Gloryville seemed to have little trouble attracting yoga instructors and massage therapists and circus performers who were willing to work for exposure.
As for the future, Smith, who comes from an advertising background and is “old enough to know better,” seeks to diversify into corporate packages and corporate events, while continuing to throw monthly morning raves, their flagship event.
“They have 500 people at their first party—that’s crazy,” DJ Don Mescal, of the Speakeasy collective that supplied the beats, remarked.
It was now 10 a.m. at Loft Hotel and the crowd was thinning out. But unlike late-night events that degenerate into drunken debauchery, here the vibe was only going up. Smiles were all around and I was admonished for not smiling sufficiently as I swiped at my phone.
“Everybody still here—you just won this day! YOU WON!!” Smith boomed on the microphone as the music faded out. Remaining party-goers squeezed together for a group selfie; a closing circle and five minutes of meditation then sealed the event.
Photos by Mike Ghenu.