VIDEO: Early-Morning Dance Party for the Pre-Work Crowd Set to Expand
NEW YORK CITY — In April, the Lightbox club in Chelsea was full of hundreds of moving and sweaty bodies packed onto the dance floor.
Audio stimulation had neared capacity as a DJ pumped out beats amplified by a live three-piece brass band and a kilt-clad guy on bagpipes.
Floating octopus puppets glowed with their own strobe lights. Moving images were projected to all walls.
It seemed to make no difference that this was 8 a.m. On a Wednesday. Before work. With no alcohol.
The event, or the morning festival as creators Matthew Brimer and Radha Agrawal label it, is DAYBREAKER, a morning dance party that has been running about once a month since last December.
Brimer, who is a co-founder of tech-education company General Assembly, and Agrawal, a social entrepreneur in kids nutrition, say DAYBREAKER is part of a movement to reclaim the early mornings. They plan to duplicate it across the country and overseas.
"It's an energetic morning experience where you don't have any of the vices," said Brimer, 27, of the festival, where only water, coffee and juice is served. "You're sober. There is no alcohol, so it's actually healthy for you."
The event has been held at numerous venues around the city. It generally runs from 7-9 a.m. and tickets cost $25. Last Saturday, DAYBREAKER also kicked off a brunch version of the event that started a 10 a.m.
DAYBREAKER brings in a range of arts, from live music to spoken-word performances and artists who paint while the event is in progress.
Aviva Mohilner, who knows Brimer and Agrawal through her works in brand development, said she first cringed at the thought of a morning dance party. Now she has attended three DAYBREAKER festivals.
"It really goes back to it being a unique, fun and positive way to start an otherwise random work day," Mohilner said.
She said the lack of alcohol meant something different to the usual nighttime club experience.
"It's like if you ever have a favorite place you can go out to and not get hassled, it's like that,” said Mohilner, who splits her time between L.A. and New York.
With a genesis that traces back to a 2 a.m. conversation over falafel last fall, DAYBREAKER first targeted the social entrepreneur community like those in tech, education or creative startups, according to Brimer and Agrawal.
Up until its latest event on Tuesday, ticket purchases were restricted to those who had been given a password and the only way to get a password was through someone else in the DAYBREAKER community. Those in the know were also asked not to "post the ticket link publicly."
"We wanted to know it was rooted in our community who would best carry a morning dance party," said Agrawal. "Now we have a community that is strong enough."
The long-planned decision to open up the DAYBREAKER community also coincided with another morning rave on the scene, a coincidence according to Brimer and Agrawal. The London-based Morning Gloryville held its first New York City event last week to much fanfare.
"It's interesting that this idea is captivating to people," said Brimer. "They started completely independent of us on two different continents."
It wasn't until DAYBREAKER held its first festival in December that Morning Gloryville was brought to their attention, said Brimer and Agrawal.
Morning Gloryville organizers did not respond to a request for comment.
As to whether or not morning raves, dance parties and festivals are a passing gimmick, Agrawal said 60 percent of the 1,500 DAYBREAKER tickets sold are return customers.
And like Morning Gloryville, DAYBREAKER is on schedule for rapid expansion this year with cities such as San Francisco and Tel Aviv in Israel on the horizon.
"I think in this case it's a rising tide that will lift all boats," Brimer said.
The next Daybreaker event is scheduled for the first week in June.