Waking up at the crack of dawn is not something I do often.
But on a recent morning, I decided to toss tradition to the wind and awaken at the ripe hour of 5 a.m. — so I could head to a rave.
Yes, a rave.
The 3-hour morning party, known as Daybreaker, is part of what its creators call a “movement” in 16 cities including Sydney, Seattle, Paris, and Tokyo.
The sunrise soirée involves no alcohol or drugs. And did I mention it starts with an hour-long yoga class?
“Our goal was to create a safe space where people could sweat and express themselves — really let their hair down and let go,” Daybreaker’s co-founder, 38-year-old Radha Agrawal, told Business Insider. “We said let’s replace all the negative, dark stuff about nightclubs with light, positive stuff.”
Here’s what it was like.
When I moved to London, a friend told me about a morning rave called Daybreaker, which she described as a night of clubbing minus the booze and set in the morning. In February, I signed up for 'Love is in the air,' Daybreaker's next shindig.
Daybreaker parties usually begin at 6 a.m. with an hour of yoga followed by 2 hours of dancing. You have a choice of 2 types of tickets: One that includes the yoga or one that's just for the dancing. To do both, the ticket cost me about $A30. The venue was a nightclub called OMEARA, located in London's Southwark neighbourhood.
When my alarm went off on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., my initial reaction was to shut it off and crawl back under the blankets. For a few minutes, I desperately regretted my ambitious plans. But as a morning person -- something that's largely genetic -- I was able to pull myself out of bed. (It wasn't as easy for my night-owl partner, Chris, who'd volunteered to come with me.)
Nevertheless, Chris and I both made it out of the apartment. When we arrived at the venue around 5:45 a.m., it was still dark outside. It felt kind of like a Friday night, except that we'd be heading to work and school afterwards.
While we waited for the yoga class to start, Chris and I chatted with a few other early birds and enjoyed the free, unlimited instant coffee in the lobby.
The class was designed for all levels, and I was excited to do some morning exercise. Some research suggests that working out early helps speed weight loss and boost energy levels by priming the body for an all-day fat burn.
After the class was over, we took a breather in the lobby, where we were cheerfully greeted by staff members handing out ice-cold coconut water and snack bars. Neither of us had eaten yet, so we were excited to get some fuel. (Some studies suggest that working out on an empty stomach in the morning can be beneficial.)
These Rude Health bars tasted like miniature pumpkin pies. One I'd finished off a couple, I felt ready to get my dance on.
When we reentered the main room around 7:45, it was nearly full. Agrawal says she thinks of Daybreaker as a way to introduce young professionals to an alternative party scene. 'Our events have to be as cool as a nightclub,' she said.
'We really want to take the young professionals who are still kind of in their straight jackets and let them break free,' Agrawal said. 'To give people an outlet to dance and enjoy themselves without the 'depleted' feeling you get from a night out.'
Daybreaker attendees certainly didn't look depleted. That could have had to do with the event's lack of alcohol -- alcohol is a depressant, and can make us feel sluggish by putting the brakes on our brain's 'excitatory' messengers and amplifying our 'inhibitory' ones.
Others even wore costumes. Another reason partying early could be appealing is that it helps align our internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, with the natural world (i.e. waking up when the sun rises and resting shortly after it sets). This may help give the metabolism a boost, some research suggests.
A 2012 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology also suggested that people who basked in bright sunlight within 2 hours of waking tended to be thinner and better able to manage their weight than people who didn't get any natural light, regardless of what they ate throughout the day.
Everyone seemed to be having a blast. I know I did. Most people danced in small groups or pairs, and I felt safe and alert the whole time. At one point, I even got swept up in a conga line.
Here's everyone at what I'd describe as peak rave, around 8:15 a.m. People began to leave around 8:30, and at about 8:45, our DJ and MC slowed down the tunes a bit.
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