Sunrise Parties of Mumbai

An early morning Zumba party at St Regis, Mumbai
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People dressed in sneakers and yoga pants wake up at the crack of dawn to hit a party

THE NIGHTCLUB, AS we have envisioned it and as its name suggests, is a nocturnal venue. Where young men and women congregate, aided by alcohol and the latest music track, to dance in the night’s darkness. The following morning, usually a Sunday, is the designated period for nursing a hangover.

But such a concept also leaves out a fairly large cross-section of people. Teetotalers, early-risers, those who dislike late night dance parties or the damp smell of smoke in their hair, among others, have little to thrill them in the concept of a nightclub. Could we re-imagine things a little? Can we come up with something that retains the fun and energy of the nightclub, perhaps even its space, but which appeals to health-oriented youngsters and former clubbers who are no longer keen on late-night partying?

Satish Bhadra, the business and marketing head of the health and fitness start-up GymTrekker, was thinking along the same lines late last year. Like the company’s founders, he isn’t much of a fitness buff, but he believes they all balance it out with an aversion to alcohol. What this means, however, is that he has to sit through parties with nothing but a cola in hand. Last year, as a sober Bhadra sat through yet another party at a nightclub, he recalls thinking, ‘What could sober people do to have fun?’

And that’s when, he says, he had a brainwave: ‘How about a morning party?’

The morning party, in the last few years, has become a popular trend in several cities in the West. People dressed in sneakers and yoga pants wake up at the crack of dawn to hit a party. But unlike regular nightclub scenes, there are no drugs or even alcohol, only cereal and health drinks. The strongest stimulant is coffee. Some of them do yoga. But a lot of them simply party, just as they would at night, to, say, the latest EDM (electronic dance music) track. Dawntrekker, the morning party concept introduced by GymTrekker, is held once a month on a Sunday and focuses on a number of fitness routines. Activities like power yoga, hot yoga, zumba sessions to EDM, aerobics, Bokwa—a blend of hip- hop and step aerobics—and even the occasional bhangra occur simultaneously in different sessions, with patrons walking in and out of them, or resting with a glass of protein shake or juice, or some healthy nibble like an energy bar or bowl of cereal.

As a business idea, Gymtrekker realised there was much to get excited about. Not only would there be interest from a large section of people, from fitness enthusiasts to early-risers, this was also a slot—Sunday morning—that is rarely blocked and hence free from competition. “Most people sleep over a Sunday morning. There is just nothing to do,” Bhadra explains.

Once the idea was polished, Bhadra says, it was just a matter of creating enough buzz. Nightclub venues were easily available since the party was to be held off-hours. Fitness trainers from different fields were easy to convince since the company’s online portal already had them linked up. “You can party. You can meet people. Maybe you can even hook-up like in a nightclub,” says Bhadra. “Even parents won’t have an issue with a sober morning party.”

Dawntrekker hosts its parties once a month with tickets priced at Rs 500 each and invitations sent out by email. In the past few months, another company, Mingle, which runs co-working spaces in Mumbai through its concept Wonderise, has also begun to organise morning parties around dance and fitness.

Firoz Attarwala, a 27-year-old chartered accountant, began to attend Dawntrekker parties with his friends because he found the idea subversive. “It’s a real party thing,” he says. “Yet there are none of the vices that go with it. Just clean, good fun.” What he and his friends have discovered, he adds, is that the morning party has all the energy and inclusiveness of the nightclub scene, but also throws in a fitness regimen. “The concept sort of changes everything. Instead of, y’know, going to a party, getting hammered, maybe hooking up with someone or waking up with a hangover the next day,” he says, “here you go to the same nightclub, but in the morning. And instead, you are dancing or doing yoga. You may or may not meet someone. But you make new friends. And you definitely don’t have a hangover.”

Dawntrekker is changing things around with its next party, though. To be held on 1 May at a nightclub, this will be around fitness activities but it will take place in the evening—from 6 to 9 pm. Since the sale of alcohol is prohibited in Mumbai that day on account of Maharashtra Day celebrations, the organisers are holding what it is calling a ‘dry-day party’. After this bash, the next ones—to be held in Bengaluru and Pune— will again be thrown in the mornings.

“I think it’s incorrect to compare us with nightclubs and nightlife,” Bhadra says. “You could say we are creating a ‘morning life’.”