One late night in 2013, after a lackluster evening of dancing, Radha Agrawal and her friend Matt Brimer were eating falafels amidst the drunken crowd that surfaces at dark in New York. They looked at each other and asked “What are we doing?” They were tired of dealing with mean bouncers, sick of everyone being drunk or on some new drug– everyone fiddling with their phones and not actually even dancing.
For Radha and Matt, nightlife had gotten dark and different from what it used to be. They longed to bring back the good stuff— the connection, the community, the bright and happy music, the people who look up from their phones to look into your eyes, the people who actually are there to make friends and have fun, and perhaps, most importantly, the people who truly want to boogie.
The two came up with a plan. It started as a simple social experience; a sort of art project. They sought to reinvent nightlife… only in the daytime. “Why is it that the only time to dance is at night, in some weird place, with a drink in your hand? Why can’t it be in daylight? Why can’t we create a whole new nightlife and call it daylife?” Radha asked.
With those simple questions, Daybreaker was born.
They found a location— the basement of a small coffee shop in Union Square, and handpicked, one-by-one, 300 of their “closest” friends who they thought would be open enough to wake up at 6am to go dancing. They figured if they were going to do this— create morning dance parties worth waking up for— they had to do it right. They decided on a structure and tone, picking five core values that were to define their new venture. Values that still shape what it has become today: Wellness, Camaraderie, Self-Expression, Mindfulness, and Mischief.
On December 10th, 2013 they launched to immediate success. 180 of the 300 chosen ones whom they had invited came. Afterwards happy friends lined up to hug and thank them. “They were like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve been waiting for something like this! Keep doing it, keep going!’” Radha remembers.
The second party saw 250 people show up including a girl who offered to bring the party to San Francisco. Barely believing they were expanding already, they told her to go for it… and then, suddenly they were bicoastal. They quickly realized that hundreds of thousands of people were also tired of nightlife, so they launched in even more cities. There are now Daybreaker dance parties in 15 cities all over the world, with over 250,000 community members.
The affairs are like none other. Strobe lights, loud clothing, actual DJ’s, breakdancers, trumpet players, dancing jellyfish… stuff that dreams (and the best dance-parties ever) are made of. People love it. People are dancing. And people, are sober. If the place has a bar, it’s serving water and healthy breakfast juices. After the two hour party-sesh is done intention cards are passed around and everyone reads a motivating mantra out loud in unison. Usually held on a weekday, people go to work much happier than usual on a Daybreaker morning.
“When you come to Daybreaker, it’s early in the morning, so it’s very self-selecting, right? You’re weeding out the people who are negative or pessimistic because those people wouldn’t want to wake up to dance sober. They’re like ‘Oh, I need to be drunk’ or ‘That’s so lame.’ The people who don’t get it, don’t come,” Radha explains. “In the morning your cup is full and your optimistic, where as at night you might be coming into the experience after having had a stressful day. Everyone’s coming at you at night with different energies, but in the morning, everyone’s coming from the same place— their bed. Everyone’s looking at the world optimistically, everyone’s energetic and energized, so the vibrations in the room are inherently much higher.”
Rising with the sun and dancing is, by science, the best thing to do to release positive chemicals in your body. To dance in a community sober releases happy endorphins, happy serotonin, and all the happy things you can’t get from mood altering substances, or even other types of exercises.
For Radha, someone who has been building companies her whole life (THINX, Super Sproutz, and Wild are a few of them) Daybreaker is a lifestyle that has changed her life as well as the lives of countless others. “I’ve never been happier. To be able to serve the community in this way is a gift.” She’s truly at the helm of a movement of young creatives who are open and ready to change the world… and they’re starting with the dance scene.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. If she’s not dancing in a onesie at a Daybreaker event, try her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.
Photos by: Andrew Rauner.