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Morning Gloryville founder Samantha Moyo talks to Jessie Brinton about creating heart-based activism one day-rave at a time

It's hard to believe that the first Morning Gloryville happened just over 3-years ago, when it feels like so much longer. In that time, the early morning party collective has got so famous that you could say to your granny in Nottingham, “you know that rave where people wake up at 6 am on a Wednesday to dress up in crazy clothes and dance?” and she would probably say, “oh yes, I’ve heard of that!”

Somewhere amongst the glitter, unicorns, superstar deejays and random baffled-looking BBC news reporters, is Samantha Moyo, Morning Gloryville’s 30 year old founding mother. Over the last 3-years, as the community has expanded all over the world, she has grown into a next generation business leader on a mission to change the world.

Anyone who wants to meet her only has to go to Morning Gloryville East London, and look for her dancing more joyfully than anyone. Here’s a chat we had recently about what being a new generation business person actually involves, and why some people still don’t believe Morning Gloryville exists.

RR: Hi Sam. How is everything going? Morning Glory is still selling out and the global community is getting bigger and bigger.

SM: It’s so cool. At the moment it feels like we’re in this perpetual love cycle. We’ve worked really hard and now this thing is here to stay. The community feels like it’s moving into a new phase and the transition is beginning to happen.

RR: Ooh that sounds really good. What do you actually mean?

SM: Well a few weeks ago, I called a meeting of the community about setting up some kind of organism specialising in community building and social impact. Afterwards I was getting emails from people with these really solid plans. Like reading to old people or tree planting. Or ways to help NHS nurses by doing something nice for them. People aren’t afraid to come up with an idea and go for it.

RR: I thought Morning Gloryville was all about dancing to amazing deejays with your friends.

SM: Yes, but the events have always been a fraction of what we do. It seems hedonistic because people in our spaces smile and spangle harder than anyone usually does. But it’s basically heart-based activism. About balance and people not taking themselves and life too seriously. RR: I get what you’re talking about. The grand political narratives are tiring, aren’t they? Lots of people are realising that the best place to focus is community.

SM: We’re about physical connection in a world where everything is on-line, and there’s so much potential for other real world happenings where we’re working collectively. Facilitating a gathering to clap for people at train stations sounds small but it makes a huge difference to that person.

RR: OK, so tell me what it’s like to be you. It feels ridiculous sometimes to talk about women business leaders, but there are still are so few of them. Does being a woman make a difference to the way you work?

SM: Everyone has their own way of being a woman but I’m proud to be a woman running a business who’s sensitive about emotions and passion. I struggled as a founder, but when I changed that description to “founding mother” I dropped into my body, and into my womb, and suddenly this organism was a child, and it was about looking after a child, and a team and community. My role was carer and it brought me so much peace.

RR: How does that sensitivity affect the way you run the business day to day?

SM: I know there are a lot of things in business about not crying and being strong, but I really try to show my team that if you’re not feeling well, or have your period, then say so. It’s really important to embrace the feminine spirit. I try to bring emotion and sensitivity into the mix. RR: Funny how radical that sounds.

SM: I think there is a generation of men over 40 who’ve done really well and it would be lovely for the next generation of males to see women doing well and not be afraid of it and try to squash it. Maybe even enjoy it. When you’re a woman, you don’t naturally want to go to war or fight. You want to work with people and have peace, and that’s the natural feminine vibe. I wonder if the masculine could realise that there’s nothing to be afraid of? It could really loosen society.

RR: You wrote a blog on Facebook a few weeks ago celebrating Black Lives Matter. It talked about growing up as a mixed race girl, not being black enough to fit into some places, and at other times, being judged for not being white. But in the blog you called yourself a “rising black goddess,” which I loved.

SM: I’m a woman and also a proud black woman, and there aren’t many of us running stuff that I know. If I could say anything it would be to instil the words of the Nina Simone song, "Young, gifted and black,” to every young black person in the world. And perhaps for any anti-black people folk out there, it may be good for them to see the work that black people like me are doing to make a happier and healthier world.

RR: Wouldn’t it be nice if that world existed right now? Lots of people think it will never happen. Things are way too far gone the other way.

SM: We work a lot with companies and perception change, and I think it will happen. For example, this company, a beer brand, was asking, how do you get this love from the community without a marketing budget? I said, we speak from the heart and try to keep it real, you know? If we’re feeling great or not great, we say so. If things aren’t going well, we involve the community on a human level as opposed to creating barriers. This way everyone feels like they’re part of a family. Anyway the brand sent their marketing team to Morning Gloryville and then I went to their offices to give a talk. Later in the year, the brand ran a drinking moderation campaign.

RR: I would really love to see some of the faces of those corporate people when you explain how Morning Gloryville happened.

SM: Yes, I tell them at we grew intuitively and sometimes that sends people crazy. They’re used to the structure of knowing what it is. You can see men in particular thinking, there must have been a deeper strategy. But there wasn’t. I think that’s the way forward: the world is progressing so quickly, you can’t say what a business is these days because it changes every week. Someone told me that in 5 or 10 years time, most businesses will be doing something completely different to their core business.

RR: You know when you go to do a talk with lots of corporate types, what do you wear? SM: It’s really easy to conform to what other people are wearing. The beer job was a serious plenary session so I thought I should wear something a bit more serious. But then I went for a luminous pink dress. When people see glitter and coloured braids, they put you in a box but then you start talking about annual community growth of 50% without a marketing budget. I think it all leads people to question themselves in terms of the little ways we judge each other.

RR: Where did you find the resolve to do all of this?

SM: People sometimes think that MGV is run by a trust fund child but I came from Zimbabwe 15 years ago, when I was 15 and a half and had the rest of my growing up in Redford - in council housing with my Mum. My family always remind me of my heritage but also of where I could have ended up.

RR: Oh yes I remember you saying something about coming from an activist family.

SM: A lot of my family in Africa fought against apartheid. My Dad was a land policy maker so his research was about creating better conditions for peasants in Africa, India and South America. My grandmother was the first black woman to ever be on the radio. She came up with an amazing idea for women in rural areas to get radios so that they could be taught about sanitation and weather. She sent them tapes to record questions and she would ask the right experts and get them the answers. This was pre-Youtube. I think what my family does is find work to do for ourselves.

RR: One thing I’ve realised in the last few years is the difference between talking and doing. It takes so much more belief 'to do'.

SM: The wake-up rate of society is happening so fast that to stay ahead, you need to show that you’re genuinely getting your hands dirty.

RR: I admit that sometimes, I still have trouble believing Morning Gloryville exists until I walk into the room and see it and feel the force of it for myself.

SM: Ha ha, yes there are still plenty of people who think Morning Gloryville is a made up event. Like the other day, there was a whole situation with a fashion vlogger and a conspiracy theory that she was connected to ISIS. When she said that she was coming to see us, the news desks printed stories that there was going to be an ISIS attack at this event called “Morning Gloryville” and the police were saying to cancel.

RR: But you didn’t cancel.

SM: It wasn’t even an option. It’s what I was saying about a perpetual love cycle. My soul has always gasped at the need for progress but at the moment it feels like it can rest. Everyone wants to be part of change in the world - and the thing is actually happening. There’s evidence for it.

 

The next Morning Gloryville will be taking place at Oval Space on 14th September at 06:30. Find out more from the event listing here.

Swing by the Morning Gloryville website here. Follow Samantha Moyo on Twitter via @TweetMoyo and Morning Gloryville via @gloryvilleHQ