I Woke Up at Dawn to Dance. Here’s What Happened.

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In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s catch a case of the Springtime feel goods. We all need a little positivity in our life. DayBreaker is full of positive energy and happiness, and perhaps an easy solution to your insomnia, anxiety, overwhelm, and loneliness — Based on my experience at least. I felt instantly happy at my first DayBreaker. The event is designed to help us start our day with what Radha Agrawal, the founder of DayBreaker and the author of Belong calls it the Daybreaker D.O.S.E — happy chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin) that your brain naturally releases.

So, let’s talk about some feel-good time. Let’s talk about DayBreaker.

You may have heard of them before, read about them, perhaps even gone to one or two. It’s received press everywhere from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to Buzzfeed and Thump.

After losing my job and moving back to Philly, I was lost. I needed to belong to a new community. I first heard about this morning rave DayBreaker from a friend. I did some research — thank you, Google. After I watched this video on Youtube, I signed up for the upcoming DayBreaker event the very next day.

Okay, so I signed up to a rave. But, I signed up to a morning rave. I signed up to a sober morning rave. I signed up to a DayBreaker event and I looooved everything about it! Its culture and intention and the really welcoming community. It’s unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced, and you’ll have to go to understand it. Once you go, you’ll wish it was a daily event.

What Is DayBreaker?

As described by its founders, Matthew Brimer, and Radha Agrawal: “DAYBREAKER is a morning movement that will start your day off unlike anything else. It is about being in the here and now, surrounded by amazing people, beautiful music, and an incredible vibe. It is about dancing your face off before work and feeling gloriously healthy while doing so. It is about love, it is about mindfulness, and it is about mischief.”

According to its website, DayBreaker launched in 2013 and became a viral phenomenon. Since then it has expanded to 25 major cities globally including Tokyo, Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Dubai, Amsterdam, as well as New York and many cities in the U.S. with a community of almost half a million people. This pop-up 3-hour super-early dance party start at 6:00 a.m!

This movement is about community, self-expression, mischief, and belonging. Sold. I am a big fan of peace, love, and community. DayBreaker is inspired by Burning Man, which I never been to (yet!) or to a real rave. I’m not even sure if it is my thing, but it’s on my bucket list.

So far, I went to three DayBreaker parties: one at The Divine Lorraine Hotel, one in Stratus Lounge Rooftop, one at Concourse. Two of the events that I signed up for started at 6:00 am, which is way too early for anything. My favorite was Philly’s first-ever rooftop sunrise DayBreaker event that was located inside at Stratus Lounge Rooftop of Hotel Monaco in Old City.

So here’s what it was like.

5:00 AM: Waking Up

img_3216Disclaimer:
I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON, I’m more of a night owl! So, waking up at 5:00 a.m. (as at the crack of dawn) to go to a super early morning rave was a form of personal hell on earth to me. When my first alarm went off (yes, I set three alarms,) I desperately regretted my ambitious plan. I hit snooze and crawled back under the blankets. I dragged my butt out of bed after my third alarm, and it was not fun. I was barely opening my eyes when I threw on some yoga clothes in the dark and chugged a cup of coffee.

I left my apartment around 5:45 a.m (I was lucky to get out the door in matching socks,) and trekked through the dark streets of Philadelphia ready to rave. It was still dark outside. I arrived just before six with an exhausted mind and achy body — go figure. I was greeted with a big bear hug from a super-friendly woman. Wow, she’s friendly. Her name is Luna May, who is the community catalyst producer for DayBreaker, Philadelphia as I learned later. That was the first of many hugs from morning lovers. “Who are these people?” I asked myself. Then, I realized that DayBreaker actually has a “hugging committee” at each event. I felt super welcomed and already part of that community. I was ready to express myself, be mindful, and be open to a new experience.

6:00 AM- 7:00 AM: Yoga

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First up, Yoga! Yeah, at 6 a.m! Most of my friends haven’t even poured their first cup of coffee in the pre-dawn darkness, and I’m ready to rave. Once again, what I was thinking? I mean, I don’t work out. Ever. Not in the morning. Not after work. Not before I sleep.

Anyway, I unrolled my mat in front of the room and did my best to follow along. Few sun salutations and pigeon and tree pose, I finally started to center my heart and ground myself for what was about to happen.

The yoga session, led by Heather Rice, was designed for all levels. I think I was basically sleepwalking. I was also winded, and I haven’t shown off my two left feet killer dance moves. After the one-hour calming yoga session, and while we were transiting into the dance party, most people got situated in their brightest colors or beachiest attire and shades. I was in my all black yoga outfit ( where did my memo go?) The party was Summer Lovin’-themed — each event has a theme that delivers a global message.

7:00 AM-9: 00 AM: Dance Party!

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As the sun peeked over the horizon, DJ Shearn dropped the beat, everyone went bananas, and it was mayhem—in a good way.
But first, breakfast. At the bar, and instead of libations, unlimited access to bottles of kombucha, RXBAR protein bars, bananas and hemp seeds, green smoothies, and most importantly, cold brew coffee, were up for grab. I opened my first of several bottles of coffee and fueled up with some energy bars to get ready for the two-hour dance party that was about to start.

The dance floor was full — Two solid hours of bopping and dancing. Hundreds of humans bounced to the rhythm in their summer outfits on a dance floor of tiki torches and beach balls. Few hands waved in the air, and magical energy filled the space. I pinched myself and realized I am definitely not dreaming — I am wide awake, and I let my freak flag fly.  That energy in the room was contagious, and I was dancing like nobody’s watching! It was a safe space to connect and move with no judgment. I don’t know about you, but I am a horrible dancer. It’s public knowledge throughout my life.

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As the dance party continued, I danced slightly less awkward and less self-consciously. Everyone seemed to be having a blast. I know I did. Every 15 minutes, a surprise of a local artist or act come out, DayBreaker uses the element of surprise to give its attendance a natural high. It can be anything from jamming saxes to dance battles, to even breakdancing. At this particular one, it was hula hoopers, violinists and steel drummers — talk about that wow moment.

8:40 AM: DayBreaker Anthem

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Around 8:40 a.m. the tunes slowed down a bit and the DJ brought the room down to earth. The organizers handed out “Intention Card” with a motivational quote and a reflection question to everyone. We sang the DayBreaker anthem (of course, I didn’t know the words but followed along.) Then we were asked to introduce ourselves to our neighbors. Next, we sat down on the floor and held hands for short, guided meditation. The event closed out by having us all read from the “Intention Card” — in one voice. It was like a pep talk. I felt great and inspired to start the day with a positive note, literally. The event’s intention was:

“💛 is the color of the sun.
 💙 is the color of the sky.
 💚is the color of grass.
 🧡 is the color of your eyes.
🖤 is the color of the night.
🧡 is the color of truth.
❤️ is the color of love.
And…
 🌈 is the color of YOU.”
~ Anthony T. Hinck

9:00 AM: Nap Time

img_3215It was almost 9 a.m. when I walked out. I was happy but tired. Luckily, I had the day off — Well, I don’t have a job yet, remember (insert cry emojis!) Although I had woken up mentally and emotionally, I was pretty beat. I needed to nap ASAP. I’ve been up since 5 a.m to dance. And sadly, it was time for all of us to get back to reality.

DayBreaker in a Nutshell:

  • Starts usually at sunrise (at 6:00 a.m.) and ends before your workday begins (at 9:00 a.m.)
  • Includes one hour of yoga, followed by two hours of dancing.
  • Each event is hosted in a fantastic venue.
  • Tickets are $15-35 a ticket. You can opt for the “dance only party,” skip the yoga to save $10. Snag your tix fast. They tend to sell out quickly.

Was it strange at first, especially by myself? Definitely. It was weird, but I found zen by partying with strangers and got high on their energy.

Would I do it again? Hell yeah, I would.

 

How about you, would you wake up and hit up DayBreaker? Tell me in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “I Woke Up at Dawn to Dance. Here’s What Happened.

  1. Samar Al Jishi

    Yeah I definitely would like to experience that.
    I think It’s an amazing way to unlock, connect and self express.
    Dance like nobody’s watching and first thing in the morning! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tong Liu

    LOL what a nut idea, a dance party in for morning people! This is such a good way for those who wants to transit from night owl to early bird. I can use some of these positive vibe in future! Thanks for sharing :)))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lopaaaaa

    Like you, I am also not a morning person too, so I was not very keen on reading about waking up at 5am to dance. But my intense love for dancing took over and I started reading your post and thank God, I did! I feel inspired to actually try out your options. Please keep writing, keep inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura McKeever

    Thank you SO much for this post, Sari. I’ve already looked more into DayBreaker. I’ve heard of this concept before but never pursued it. Your post has inspired me. I often wonder if I take myself too seriously to do something like this. I think self-love is something I lose sight of too often. I know I can get too focused on the next thing that I forget to be present and do things that we enjoy or make us feel happy.

    DayBreaker seems like such a comfortable, natural, fun event. I sense the rave brings a lot of good vibes to those in attendance. I can imagine those vibes carry on with you throughout the rest of your day. This concept of self-love and centering your mind and body at the start of the day is really emotional for me and very inspiring. Thank you again for your post. DayBreaker is really exciting, I am so glad to have learned more about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sari AlJishi

      Thank you, Laura! Trying to keep things interesting over here!
      DayBreaker community definitely is casual and very welcoming. And you are right about the good vibes (like being high! ) Self-love is hard to achieve but DayBreaker helps 😉 Lemme know if you gave it a try.

      Like

  5. passporttophilly

    Thank you for this post, and overall just this whole blog! I love reading all your content, Sari! It is so inspiring and honestly pretty motivating-specifically this one about DayBreaker. To me, it is a mix of things I would never envision for myself such as waking up early and being in an environment where I have to be open and be myself around strangers! However, I have to say you convinced me to look into it and even give it a try one day! This post definitely came right on time for Mental Health Awareness Month and this seems like a great way to really make a whole day a day full of positivity. I am so inspired by you, can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sari AlJishi

      Thank you, Laura! I’m glad you are enjoying my blog. I try to be positive because if I don’t help myself get out of daily negativity, no one could help me. I think that simple, honest, and real-life stories resonate with people!
      Now, regarding Daybreaker, trust me, you’ll open yourself up to strangers once you step a foot in the event. The people there are very open, easy going and welcoming. Give it a try and let me know. Or I can even join you to ease the intimidation.

      Like

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