Secret Sunrise


Carrie Hampton implores you to rise early on your next visit to Cape Town. (Posted 13 April 2016)


You are about to know a secret about Cape Town that even most locals don’t know. Warning: it does mean getting up before dawn (which doesn’t come naturally to me), but I promise you it’s worth it!

“Is it a party? Is it a dance? Is it a silent disco? Is it a yoga session?” asks the invitation to a Secret Sunrise session. “No. It’s all of these things and all before dawn! So get out of your comfort zone and into your spandex tights, because Secret Sunrise will be a morning of smiles, dance moves and connectedness like never before!”

I couldn’t resist an invite like that.

So, I drove in pre-dawn darkness to an open patch of forest (the destination having been revealed only a day or so before), to find smiling, bouncy people dressed very brightly, aged six to sixty. I had sneeked a peek at the Secret Sunrise video and noticed that the more wacky the clothes the more fun everyone seemed to have, so my tie-dye leggings and luminous jumper gave me a fighting chance of fitting in.

Matt the Facilitator’s melodious voice came through our sparkly headphones and reminded us that we were here to let out our inner child, to connect with ourselves, with each other and with the beautiful earth. Walking the talk, Matt’s pink onesie set the scene.

Half an hour of yoga got my Qi flowing nicely and then it was time to dance in the darkness. Matt encouraged us to feel the beat and pick up pace until we found ourselves doing the air guitar – a first for me! Wearing headphones somehow gave everyone the feeling that gorgeous Matt was speaking only to them. I knew that was self-delusion, but everyone had abandoned self-consciousness and was smiling with the simple joy of moving, dancing and singing loudly. No-one could hear, and no-one cared.

“Why drudge through life doing 9 to 5” said Matt, “when you can dance through life from 5 to 9.” High on sleep deprivation and exercise-induced endorphins, I thought that was a rather brilliant concept. But in reality, the brilliant concept is that cooked up by No Danger Diaries, of which Secret Sunrise is just one social enterprise project.

They decided to affect change through fun, by creating inspiring ways of giving back. The backbone of action is the “Living list of Tasks”, where people come together in a sense of unity and freedom through such simple actions as taking some homeless people for a sit-down dinner. That video made me cry – I am a bit soppy, but I defy you not to feel moved.

The mission of Secret Sunrise is to provide the space for people to connect and engage in self-expression, to share compassion, kindness and of course joy. Does it fulfil its destiny? Yes, there’s no doubt about that. And there’s also no doubt that by 8.30am you will feel energised with a big smile on your face that will endure the rest of the day.


@nodangerdiaries #SharingTheJoy

Secret Sunrise has grown substantially over the past 6 months and now exists in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Stellenbosch and London. In summer the sessions happen twice a month and during winter once a month.

  • julie brennan

    Carrie, loved your article and hope to take part in this event when I’m visiting Cape Town again. But I will see what they are doing in London. Thanks for writing such an inspiring piece!
    ~ Julie from London

  • Thanks for your input Julie…your feedback really helps a writer to stay inspired! Look out for more blog posts coming soon. xx