Jamie Newman: Bringing Dance to the People

Jamie Newman, the man that brought kiwis No Lights No Lycra and Auckland's morning rave movement, Morning People, on what inspires him to make people want to get up and dance.

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Jamie Newman is a DJ, producer and DIY party starter who has played at events and festivals across New Zealand and overseas since the late 90s. He is an integral ingredient to the movement that has brought dance music out of the sole domain of alcohol and drug-fuelled late night raves and into the light of day. In 2012, Jamie introduced No Lights No Lycra to New Zealand, a highly popular event where people dance in the darkness for the pure enjoyment of losing themselves to the music. Most recently he co-founded Auckland's morning rave movement, Morning People, a dance party that is held between the hours of 6.30-8am every Wednesday morning. Featuring some of New Zealand's top DJ's, this event offers coffee, juice and fruit as its drugs of choice. They are revolutionising the concept of dance music allowing people to access the natural highs that come from having a boogie to great music before hitting their day jobs. 

We chat to Jamie ahead of performing at Splore this summer to find out more about what drives his love of getting people dancing.

What is it about making people dance that you love?

I think we take music for granted – because it’s everywhere and used in so many different contexts, we forget how important it is.

From the moment we are born we start responding and moving to music. I think there is something fundamental about music, and when we dance it’s connecting with something very elemental and human. Some of the best moments of my life have been lived on dancefloors, and I love creating opportunities for others to do the same. 

Where did you first discover No Lights No Lycra and what made you want to bring it home with you?

It actually started as a bit of a family thing. My partner, brother and sister-in-law and soon to be new friend Lindy and I all read about it in Australian magazine Frankie in late 2011. We fell in love with the idea, so contacted NLNL in Melbourne and brought the idea to Auckland in 2012.

Dancing in the dark is an extremely liberating experience, and a ridiculous amount of fun. It started with ten friends dancing in a hall in Grey Lynn, but word soon spread, and by the time we ran our last session four and a half years later we were running two sessions each Monday night, and we had 140 people attend the last session we ran. There are now several chapters around New Zealand, and while the Auckland version is no longer running under NLNL it has morphed into a similar thing called The Dark Side.

"Y’know, it sounds a bit strange, dancing sober to DJs on a Wednesday morning before work, but when you’re there it feels like the most natural thing in the world."

Where did the idea for Morning People come from?

I saw the idea working overseas, and from the success of growing a crazy idea like NLNL I knew that it could work. We started out small – hiring community venues, taking in our own sound system with me DJing most mornings, but since moving to Whammy Bar it has really taken off. While I still DJ from time to time we regularly have NZ’s top acts play – some of the DJs we have had play to date include Aroha, Dick Johnson, Greg Churchill, Dan Aux, Sambora (Shapeshifter) and Yoko Zuna.

How have people responded to Morning People?

It’s been extremely well received – y’know, it sounds a bit strange, dancing sober to DJs on a Wednesday morning before work, but when you’re there it feels like the most natural thing in the world. As well as the opportunity to dance in a hassle-free environment, people also really like all the things that go with it – complimentary Altezano Brothers coffee, organic Almighty juice, locally sourced fruit from Ooooby and Lokal kombucha. It’s a full experience.

What do you do when you’re not encouraging people to dance?

I produce electronic pop music, I work at a music copyright organisation, and I love gardening and swimming in the sea. Loving this weather!

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to look back and feel that I have lived a meaningful life. I would like to be remembered for following my passions, for having had a positive impact on others’ lives, for promoting kindness through everyday interactions and for helping others to achieve their goals.

What is most exciting for you about participating and performing in Splore?

I love Splore. I have attended every Splore to date (since 1998!), and this will be my fourth time DJing. I am honoured to be asked back, and I am extremely excited about airing some gems I have been collecting over the past year. I love every part of it – swimming, dancing, catching up with friends, eating. It’s a very special festival.

Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your ultimate dinner party and why

  • Sam Prebble – for his razor sharp wit and astute observations about everything. Gone too soon.
  • Jack Antonoff – a personal musical idol of mine
  • Laura Ashton – my partner in life and (domestic, petty) crime

Splore will be held 23-25 Febuary 2018 - check out the line up here: http://www.splore.net/line-up/

Find out more about Morning People here: http://www.morningpeople.dance/

Written by

Hannah Mackintosh

11 Dec 2017

Hannah is a Wellington-based writer, community organiser and lover of stories.

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