This is a slightly adapted article I wrote for my student paper, Epigram.
Take a load of students, throw them into a dance studio at 6.30am on a Monday, add a DJ, yoga, massages, smoothies and healthy breakfast treats, then cover everyone in glitter and what do you get? Shake Awake.
Apparently not all students are as lazy, unhealthy and lie-in-loving as we’re so often made out to be.
Had you been wandering through Stokes Croft (one of the edgier areas of Bristol) at 6.30am last Monday, you may have been perplexed at the sight of sleepy, lycra-clad students venturing into a dance studio.
Now, I am not a morning person. I'm really not. People always think I will be, but the fact of the matter is I hate getting up early. There isn’t much that will get me out of bed before 8am (curse you, 9am lectures), but the prospect of a morning rave, complete with yoga, smoothies and massages, was too intriguing to resist.
And so yes, I was one of the aforementioned lycra-clad students, rubbing sleep out of my eyes as I made my way down a dark and quiet Gloucester Road to the second ever Shake Awake Morning Rave, held at Wilder Studios.
Set up by Bristol students Olivia Compton, Harry Scott and Charlie Warner, the idea behind Shake Awake is “for people to wake up and feel energetic and inspired, to beat those winter blues, and through dance to connect with others and the community around them,” Olivia tells me.
Although not a brand new concept – the ‘morning glory rave’ culture already exists in various other big cities – Shake Awake is the first of its kind in Bristol. I remember seeing a picture of one of my best gals at a morning rave in New York (where else?) a few weeks ago and thinking she was utterly barmy. Little did I know I'd be morning raving myself so soon after...
Olivia, Harry and Charlie didn’t know each other beforehand, but they discovered they’d all had the same idea of setting up a morning rave in Bristol. To be fair, this is so Bristol. Mutual friends put the trio in a room together and one dinner later, the plan to create Shake Awake was born.
It’s a holistic effort, aiming to get students more involved in the local community which I really like. We all love Bristol so don't want proper Bristolians to resent the students who descend during termtime only to desert the city for the holidays.
Shake Awake works closely with Bristol Hub, for example, who had a stall at Monday’s event. “And the more events we do the more we aim to integrate with local organisations, getting local initiatives to come and have stalls at our event,” says Olivia.
Despite having thoroughly perused the Shake Awake Facebook page, website and photos from the first morning rave before Christmas (procrastination at its finest), I had very little idea what to expect.
We arrived in the dark on a misty morning, groggy but intrigued. When we left two hours later, the mist was clearing, a blue sky was trying to break through, and I felt more energised than I may ever have done.
So what exactly happened over those two hours? For the sake of the confused viewers of my Snapchat story (don’t pretend you wouldn’t do a story of this too), allow me to explain…
We could hear dance music pumping out from the building as we arrived at 7am, and inside there was a long dance studio: at one end people were bending their bodies to the unconventional yoga beats, at the other end were healthy foodie Bristol students selling freshly-made smoothies and breakfast treats, back massages were occurring at the back of the room, and in the middle were ravers throwing shapes on the dancefloor. It was all so bizarre but awesome.
As the sun came up, both daylight and more shakers came streaming in, energising everyone and building up the atmosphere.
The first Shake Awake was held last December just round the corner from Wilder Studios in the perennial favourite nightclub of edgy Bristol students (ergo not moi), Lakota. Although a more conventional rave location it may be, it’s hard to imagine Shake Awakers would have left so energised and ready to seize the day. They were more likely to be slightly grubby and squinting at the light of day upon leaving.
In the dance studio however, everyone was really going for it. Who knew you could get so into dancing while completely sober? Clubbing at night just won’t be the same anymore. Not that I do it often anyway but ya know.
The music was uplifting – a skilled saxophonist accompanying the DJ was a great touch – and as we twisted and shouted, all inhibitions were promptly lost.
The vibe was relaxed, with people wearing everything from PJs and dungarees to tie-dye crop-tops and glitter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 90% of us there were female, but that’s not to say the guys weren’t getting down on the D-floor and into the downwards dog as much as the ladies.
Luckily for the yoga novices among us, the yoga was just the right level of difficulty. And by that I mean not too difficult at all, just enough to give our muscles a little stretch. However, a little more yoga space wouldn’t have gone a-miss, just as more masseurs would’ve prevented such a long queue building up.
Breakfast was most definitely served in the shape of freshly-blended smoothies and super healthy homemade baked goodies – granola bars, muffins, quinoa cakes and bliss balls were all for the munching at around £1 each. Purely in the name of journalistic research, I may have sampled a few and can confirm they were energy-boosting and delicious.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying the healthy treats. 3rd year History of Art student Amelia Camamile told Epigram she “really enjoyed not having to make [her] own breakfast as the smoothies and food were so delicious and healthy!” They were the perfect accompaniment to the morning’s activity.
It seemed like everyone was having the time of their life. Emily McMullin, a 3rd year English student said, “I think it's a great concept. I had a lot of fun and would definitely go again. It was a good way to start the week and I liked how chilled it was, and the fact that you can come and go as you please.”
I left Shake Awake more energised than I’ve felt in a long time and I was amazed to see I'd reaached my 10,000 daily step goal by 9.30am! It simply put me in a brilliant mood which lasted the whole day long. You know how I generally feel awesome 95% of the time, especially since my diet overhaul? Well I felt even more awesome than normal!
Amazingly, I didn’t even feel the need to go to bed super early at the end of the day, but that’s not to say I’m going to get up at 6am and dance around in my PJs for hours before uni every morning.
Amelia was equally enthusiastic, saying, “I can't wait for the next one! I hope it's on a Monday again because I have a 10am seminar afterwards and it made me so happy during my seminar!” If something’s going to improve Monday morning seminars it’s got to be a good thing. I was still slightly glittery in mine, which is always fun.
So, what’s next for Shake Awake? “We hope to further create a space where people can come to dance, to express themselves and connect with others,” says Olivia. “For us it's the best way to start the morning and leaves us on a high. We're promoting healthy mornings with our healthy breakfast snacks, yoga and massage, especially when students are busy with work and exams.”
I think this is such a great message and absolutely loved Shake Awake - I can't wait for the next one! Judging by the smiley faces of all the early morning ravers on Monday, it seems Shake Awake could be a trend that is only going to grow.
All photos courtesy of Jamie Corbin Photography.
What do you think of Shake Awake? Would you go to a morning rave?