We met Britain’s biggest sober raver – Bradley Gunn
He once raved for 38 hours straight completely sober
In the early hours of an intense Bristol clubbing session, you may have spotted a bearded man in coloured goggles and a white sweatband raving away in the corner.
Hour after hour, he’ll be there, not drinking anything but water, lost in the sound of the music he loves.
That man is 21 year old Bristolian, Bradley Gunn. He spends his weekdays working as a software developer and his weekends sober raving across the country, inspiring a Facebook page with 17,000 likes and even a short documentary about his life. We sat down with Bradley to talk about his love of raving.
How did you first get into raving?
Back in school I had a couple of friends who listened to underground music and shared it on Facebook. I was like “What is this? I need to find this music man” so I was down with the tunes but I didn’t know anywhere that played them. So I ended up going out to find them.
One night it was like 4am after this club finished, I saw a security guard standing there and I said “Are you still open?” and he goes “Yeah we’re open till 9”. So I walked in and thought “What the fuck is this? This is the place I’ve been looking for.” And it just went from there. In 2016, I went to 112 events- but that’s what I counted off on my Facebook page. I don’t know if I’ve been to more than that, but it averages 2 a weekend.
What’s your favourite venue in the UK and why?
My favourite venue would be Tobacco Dock in London- the car park there takes you to another dimension. You’ve got the gallery above which has all these beams going everywhere, it’s quite industrial. My favourite club would be Motion in Bristol just because of its warehouse feel and being a local you feel connected to it. Rainbow Venues in Birmingham – that’s also a good one.
What’s your favourite artist and genre at the moment?
That’s a weird one because I like a lot of stuff. I don’t have a specific favourite genre but I particularly like my techno, my house, I’m also into drum and bass… I’m into a wide range of stuff. But my favourite track would probably be ‘My House’ by Tommy Vercetti.
What’s the longest continuous rave you’ve ever done?
That would have been New Year’s 2014/2015. I did four raves – back to back. I planned it so when one ended the next had already begun so it was bang, bang, bang. That was 38 hours – I don’t do that very often though, like a big blow out.
Usually it’s sort of a 12 hour thing on a weekend one night. Sometimes you can do a day rave – bank holidays are always quite intense. In 10 hours, I did 65,630 steps or 43.2 miles at Eastern Electrics.
You’re famous for raving sober. What’s your secret to enjoying the night without chemicals to help?
I don’t have any secrets to be honest. I just turn up and get excited, just start raving you know? But it’s all down to personal preference as well, it’s not up to me what other people do.
How long does it take you to recover from a rave?
Depends on how long I’ve been going and what sort of mood I’m in. Like sometimes I’ll go out for 12 hours, go to sleep, wake up an hour later and turn up to the next rave but sometimes I’ll be out for 12 hours and sleep all day.
You’ve even had a documentary made about your raving. How did that come about?
I was at a rave at Motion in the daytime – Hospitality, a day rave. I was about 10 hours in, this guy comes up to me and says “I’ve been here all day and I’ve been watching you dance around so can I ask you a few questions?” Turned out he was a film director and he said “Me and my mate have been trying to make a film about someone interesting, can we do it about you?”
So I said “Ok, let’s do it”. So that happened over the next six months, meeting and filming a little bit each time. The first time it was a bit nerve-racking, especially at events where you had camera people on you.
Do you get a lot of people recognising you in clubs?
Yeah, it’s quite surprising. Obviously it happens a lot in Bristol where it’s quite local and you know a lot of people but then you go to London, about as many people recognise you there. You actually get a lot of people from other countries going “Oh, Bradley, how are you doing?”
For Ministry of Sound’s Christmas promotion, you raved in the middle of Oxford Circus dressed in a Santa outfit. What was that like?
Well because obviously I rave sober all the time and go mental, I’ve kind of learnt not to give a shit. It’s normal to not care so I just thought “Fuck it”.
I thought most of the passers by would look at me like I was a complete weirdo but you know, you’re not going to see them again, they’re just the general public. It makes them happy as well, sort of like “What the fuck?!”, just another day in London.
Looking to the future, are you hoping to travel more and go to raves outside the UK?
I just want to keep on exploring you know? I’m going over to Berlin week after next for Morning Gloryville, it’s a morning rave. They do it worldwide but they’re doing it in Berlin and they said “Do you want to come over and see it?” and I said “Yeah alright then”.
I’m also going over to San Francisco for this new club that’s just opened to promote that. I raved in Ibiza one night, just to see how expensive it was, thought of going for longer but I couldn’t do a month, even sober. If I went for a month, I’d be entirely bankrupt.
I did go back to Ibiza earlier this year for one night at Space, but had to fly back straight after as my mum was putting on a beach rave for my birthday down in Portland.
How long did it take for your Facebook page to take off?
When I made the page, it was a Wednesday evening and I was really bored, thinking “What should I do?”. I thought “Well, if DJs can get this far, can I get this far just by being the other side of the decks? It’s either gonna succeed or it’s not, there’s only one way to find out.” So I made it and invited all my friends to like it.
Usually people ignore it but no, it just took off, got 200 in the first few hours. First couple of months it was slowly going up, 20 or 50 a week, depending on how many people you met on the weekend. I was on 3,000 after a year and then the LAD Bible picked up the video of me with security. I allowed them to share it so they shared it, went from 3,000 to 15,000 in two days.
Where do you see your project going in the future?
I don’t know, I just live it one day at a time. Just when an opportunity comes, you’ve got to take it and see where it goes. Love life and rave.
You can watch the documentary about Bradley’s life here.