Daybreaker, a company whose early-morning dance parties draws startup workers in London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo, is bringing the sunrise soirée to college campuses across the US.
Founded in 2013, Daybreaker throws three-hour raves complete with electronic dance music, free juice and snacks, and yoga — all before most people have their morning cup of coffee. Creators of the event series bill it as a “movement,” with over 350,000 members in 21 cities.
The pre-work dance parties are expanding to college campuses this fall, in the hopes of offering stressed-out students a reprieve from trashy basement parties. Unlike most raves, Daybreaker events are free of booze and drugs. They aim to energize, connect, and delight party-goers.
So far, Daybreaker has hosted six raves at colleges including University of South Carolina, Duke, Boston University, and New York University. Most often the school administration foots the bill. Fifty more colleges have contacted Daybreaker since launch, according to the company.
“We’re not saying, ‘Don’t party.’ We’re saying, ‘You do you,'” Radha Agrawal, the 38-year-old cofounder of Daybreaker, told Business Insider. “If you want to party without alcohol, if you want to do yoga before dancing — without the need for social lubrication — this is for you.”
I attended two Daybreaker parties while living in New York City. Here’s what they’re like.
Daybreaker parties typically start at 6 a.m. I'm a morning person. Still, waking up at 5 a.m., dressing up, and 'rave-ifying' with the requisite gemstones and glitter was a struggle.
Daybreaker was hosting a Halloween-themed extravaganza on a boat. Our taxi dropped us at a pier, and we knew we were in the right place when we spotted some crazy costumes.
A Daybreaker rave usually costs $25 for a 'land party,' but since this one took place on a yacht, it was $35. We got stamped with the company logo and boarded the boat.
We snagged some free cold brew coffee and juice. With that, plus the overwhelming brightness of everyone's costumes (and attitudes), we finally started feeling awake.
'No one drinks, no one does drugs, but everyone leaves so happy!' one woman who had gone to previous parties told us. 'It gets you pumped up for the rest of your day!'
The boat had three levels: You could join the main dance floor in front of the DJ, dance and watch the scene from a mezzanine above, or hit the roof outside.
The music started thumping. 'We're gonna wake the day up! The sun ain't even up yet and you're already gonna sweat!' one of the DJs boomed over the speakers. The woman on the left is Radha Agrawal, one of Daybreaker's founders. The other is her twin sister, Miki.
The floor started filling up. I made my way into the thick of the crowd.
Some people clearly came with big groups, but others didn't. The vibe felt inclusive, because everyone was flashing big smiles as they danced (if they weren't wearing masks).
On one side of the dance floor, a group of three sat with typewriters. You gave them a word, and they'd write you a custom haiku.
'Can you feel the love in this room right now?' the DJ shouted. 'This day is a choice, and we choose to be happy!'
All the positive energy felt infectious. It was easy to get lost in the combination of frenetic joy and blasting music. Here I am flashing my dance-smirk on the dance floor.
One Daybreaker enthusiast, Hunter Vurbeff, had gone to every event thrown so far. 'The energy, the people, there's just nothing like it,' he said. 'It's the absolute best way to start your day.' Here he is tearing it up.
The DJ instructed everyone to sit down in front of the stage. Slam poet Anis Mojgani recited an amazing poem called 'Come Closer.' His audience was captivated.
A woman named Elena Brower then led us in meditation, guiding us in reflection on being grateful, compassionate, and kind.
'May we remember the sweetness of being together in song and dance this morning. Take that spirit and the love and joy and energy forward into the world and into your life.'
After nearly three hours of crazy dancing, we were a little bit sweatier but a lot happier than we expected to be after waking up so early.
As we all filed off the boat, not only did I feel a million times more energised than I usually do on Thursday morning at 9 a.m., but the positivity, warmth, and energy lasted all day long.
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