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Open-air 'conscious clubbing' comes to Adelaide

Arts & Culture

An Adelaide entrepreneur is seeking to inject some New York energy into the city with an outdoor dance party that starts at dawn and encourages revellers to drink coconut water and juice shots rather than alcohol.

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Having recently returned home after living in the Big Apple, where she worked in communications and events management, Leah Kertesz says the At First Light concept is her take on the Daybreaker parties she attended there.

While those early-morning, alcohol-free parties – part of a wider movement known as “conscious clubbing” – were held in nightclubs and warehouses, the inaugural At First Light party on Friday, April 8, will be an open-air affair on the riverbank at Elder Park.

“What I want to do is use these beautiful open spaces around Adelaide,” she says.

“I want people to feel that they don’t have to be on drugs or alcohol to dance, and you don’t have to be in a dark space.”

Fresh FM has partnered with Kertesz for At First Light, which also has support from Splash Adelaide, Renewal SA and a number of Adelaide businesses.

It will run from 6.30am until 9am, and include yoga, DJ music described as “a mix of happy house beats and Top 40 commercial dance pop” (played by Fresh FM’s DJ Ryley), and a “secret show” that she won’t reveal. There will also be food and drink available, with coconut water, coffee and juice shots offered in place of alcohol.

“Conscious clubbing”, which generally incorporates holistic activities such as yoga and healthy drink options alongside dance music, is an international phenomenon. Spin-offs of the London event Morning Gloryville are held in clubs in Sydney and Melbourne, but Kertesz says that to her knowledge there are no other outdoor equivalents in Australia.

She hopes to hold several At First Light parties in Adelaide this year, and also wants to take it to other parts of the country.

“I want to push people’s boundaries a little bit and make them see that you can make positive changes in your life, even if it’s just getting up one hour earlier and dancing.”

She experienced her first Daybreaker event in 2014 when a friend invited her to a party that began at 7am in the Meatpacking District, a New York neighbourhood known for its nightlife.

“I said, ‘Are you crazy?’ because I lived all the way uptown and I would have to get on a train at 5am … but my motto in New York was just say yes.

“I turned up at this nightclub and it was pumping like it would normally be at 2am … there was amazing energy.”

The bar had no alcohol, instead offering green juice shots, coffee, iced tea and coconut water. There was yoga, high-energy dancing, and even a dancer dressed up as carrot.

“In typical New York fashion, it was eccentric, crazy and lively and healthy and entrepreneurial and innovative and I just went, ‘Wow!’

“I was out of there at 8.30am and at my desk at work and 9am and my brain was just buzzing.”

For the past 10 years, Kertesz has had a busy, fast-paced life working in three different countries, most recently holding the role of PR and communications manager for American celebrity chef Joe Bastianich.

She came home to Adelaide in December last year for family reasons, and says her own decision to focus on a healthier lifestyle helped inspire her to plan At First Light. She is expecting the first party to attract between 200 and 300 people.

“I would love to see all of Adelaide get behind it … it would be fantastic to see 1000 people dancing in the morning but you have to be realistic with regards to new event concepts.

“I think that if it can work here, it can work anywhere.”


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