By 7 am on Sunday, the 38th-floor lounge bar Asilo in Lower Parel had transformed into something rather unusual.
Youngsters in shorts, pyjamas and keds have replaced the dressed-to-impress Saturday night clubbers as 150 morning people turn up to attend Wonderise, a fitness party where cold-pressed juices replaced cocktails and health bars served up cookies and granola bars.
That same morning, a similar party was underway 13 km away, at Bandra’s Radio Bar. Called Dawntrekker, this was its second edition after its launch in December.
As DJs spun tunes, both two-hour bashes hosted sessions in yoga, zumba, mixed martial arts and musical performances. In the breaks, party people took sweaty selfies, posing with props, streamers and glittery hats.
In the city that never sleeps, morning parties are revitalising the weekend routine, offering a fresh new option to people exhausted by the movie-dinner-coffee-clubbing routine.
“Globalisation means it’s no longer a case of office in the morning, downtime in the evening,” says Parmesh Shahani, head of the Godrej India Culture Lab. “In a vibrant city like Mumbai, people are making time for entertainment, fitness and intellectual stimulation whenever they can.”
Mumbai as a city is very accepting of new ideas, adds Ashish Goenka, founder of Mingle, which runs co-working spaces, and the man behind Wonderise. “There is also a large wellness community here. In the last generation wellness may have meant time at Joggers’ Park or gymkhanas, but today’s youngsters are seeking out unique experiences. Ease of communication and the Internet are further helping these mini-movements grow.”
ON THE MORNING MENU
Morning parties will be held every month, usually at bars and pubs. The entry fee starts at Rs 500. To register, go to gymtrekker.com/dawntrekker.
“Our lifestyles and food habits are not healthy, and morning parties are a fun way to get fit and stay fit. From our two parties so far, we can say that Mumbaites are taking to the concept,” says Sambhav Jain of fitness aggregator app Gymtrekker, which is organising the Dawntrekker events. “Many people may not have the motivation to head out to a gym. Events like these help them break the barrier of reluctance towards fitness in the morning.”
Curiosity is what dragged Matunga resident Manthan Thakkar and his sister Pankti to the party. “I am not a fitness freak but a friend put our names on the list, so we came to check it out,” says Manthan, 26, a chartered accountant. “Once here, I had so much fun that I have made up my mind to attend the next one.”
Thakkar says the party also showed him how unfit he really was. “I’m slim, but I’m not used to physical activity. I’m actually thinking of joining a gym or a zumba class,” he says.
Morning parties will be held on the first Sunday of every month at different bars, pubs and lounges. The next one is on May 1 at Asilo. The entry fee is Rs 500 per head for a two-hour bash and unlimited healthy snacks and juices. You can sign up for the next one on Wonderise.in.
Having attended morning parties himself in London and San Francisco, Goenka says the idea is also to create communities that share similar interests. “Although the wellness aspect is very important, and they serve as a platform for entrepreneurs, it is, equally importantly, a place to mingle.”
“I attended a couple of morning parties in London and San Francisco while travelling and they were fun. Back home, I wanted to set up something similar, but add substance, making it more than just a fancy zumba class,” says Ashish Goenka, founder of Mingle, which runs co-working spaces, and the man behind Wonderise. “Plus, in my main business, Mingle, which nurtures startup ecosystem, I came across many young entrepreneurs struggling to find ways to market to a targeted wellness focused millennial audience other than flea markets. This was the inspiration to create Wonderise, where the audience is very specific. The startups are promoted on Facebook pages and other marketing collateral but here they get to engage with a relevant audience and sign up new customers.Having said that, the idea of organising a morning party itself seemed like a lot of fun.”
The challenge though, Goenka says, will be in selling an early-morning party to a city known for its nightlife. So far, the feedback has been positive, he adds.
Marine Drive resident Chandni Shah is all praise for the concept. “A friend told me about the event, so I booked my ticket online. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once I got there the vigour and energy was infectious,” says the chartered accountant ‘who loves to dance but doesn’t drink’. “The entire experience of everyone being sober and enjoying themselves was a refreshing change.”
One Saturday every month, young professionals and creative types congregate at venues such as Social, Studio X, Ecole intuit.lab and Cafe Zoe, mainly to listen.
Even if partying is not your thing, you can join the trend via initiatives such as CreativeMornings, ‘a global breakfast lecture series for creative people’ whose Mumbai chapter was launched in April 2014. Here, design gurus, artists, musicians and filmmakers talk on themes ranging from innovation to risk, on one Saturday morning every month.
The sessions are part of CreativeMornings, a global breakfast lecture series across 140 cities, where a local host curates speakers based on the theme of the month. The Mumbai chapter was launched in April 2014 by Amishi Parekh, 32, a communication design consultant and former editor of Kyoorius magazine, after she attended a few CreativeMornings sessions while studying in London.
Parekh has curated 20 talks so far, with speakers ranging from Vijay Nair of music management company Only Much Louder to filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia, musician Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy and pastry chef and businesswoman Pooja Dhingra.
This month’s speaker is Chaitanya Tamhane, writer and director of the National Award-winning Marathi film Court. (Only one speaker speaks every month) “I am not a morning person at all, so I was a little concerned about delivering a 9.30 am talk on ‘risk’,” says Tamhane. “But when I looked at the line-up of speakers, I agreed.”
This month’s event is on April 16. Go to Creativemornings.com to register. All sessions are free. (There is no fixed venue. Those mentioned above are where they usually take place in the city. They are free because that’s the format globally. Essentially, these are supported by volunteers in partnership with venues.)
The author tweets @ansarihumaira