It was a little after 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning -- about 3 hours earlier than I’m used to being coherent -- when I rolled my yoga mat out onto the floor of a large bar. I was in downward dog by 5:30 a.m., and when savasana hit an hour later, it wasn’t time to rest. It was time to dance, in costume for two hours.
Evidently this Daybreaker event is how Angelenos (and 20 other cities) have been waking up for a few years now. There’s been over 200 events across the globe with 300 to 1,000 people attending each month. Daybreaker co-founder Radha Agrawal created the events “to build community, dance with reckless abandon when our energy is highest, turn nightlife on its head, and return to play.”
Agrawal believes the early morning hours are when people are most optimistic.
“It takes determination and a will to play and live life differently to set your alarm for 5 a.m., wear costumes and dance for 2 hours before going to work.”
On the day of my inaugural Daybreaker event, the sun was just rising over the Pacific Ocean a few blocks away, and all the cats were rolling in. No really. There were actual cats in a mobile unit, on site, for spontaneous pet adoption. If that was too much commitment, you could simply wear your favorite furry (faux fur, of course) attire to partake in the action.
Guys and girls sleepily ambled up to the door with cat ears askew, and furry tails attached to their yoga pants. One guy rolled in on a skateboard with palm tree framed glasses saying he’s usually surfing at this hour, but the water will always be there, the dance party will not. I nodded, completely unsure of what I was getting myself into.
My yoga mat has been a lot of places, but spread out on the floor of a bar has never been one of them. Many of my mornings begin with yoga so I tried to slip into a familiar meditative state while doing downward dog between a girl in a rainbow colored tulle tutu, and a guy in a full fur onesie.
The hour of yoga flew by. Then, the doors swung open, and the music picked up. Out came leopard spotted balloons, inflatable inner tubes and a hot pink hula-hoop. The furry, feathered, unicorn-wearing masses started moving their bodies in ways I hadn’t seen at 6:30 in the morning before, or really, at any time of day.
I sheepishly swayed along the perimeter, watching and waiting, before making a move. I chatted with two yogis I met earlier, who drove over an hour from Irvine to attend the event for the first time. They had been hearing about Daybreaker since living in San Francisco, and thought it sounded like a great way to start the day. They love to dance but don’t love the club scene, so were curious to give the morning dance party a try.
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Nearby, I watched a mother and baby getting down in the middle of a dance circle, while another baby was on his father’s shoulders, sporting custom headphones while he bopped to the beat. When I asked the father why he brought his newborn, he shrugged and said that he’s all about trying new things.
Then there was Susan who’s been coming to LA’s Daybreaker events for over a year, and proudly announced that she was 68-and-a-half. Susan loves to dance and isn’t comfortable hitting the clubs, so Daybreaker works for her, and keeps her in touch with the younger generation.
Unicorns danced with owls, 68-and-a-half-year-olds shook it with babies, and I eventually got my groove on with all of the above. The atmosphere was open and inviting. No one was grinding up on anyone, and everyone had a smile on their face.
“I'm a big proponent for inter-generational communities and returning to all ages. Because our events are sober, they attract parents, kids, grandparents and even Jane Goodall came to Daybreaker!” says Agrawl.
There are no drinks to buy at Daybreaker since alcohol is not served, but included in the admission fee is plenty of water, tea, juice, and coffee. Tickets typically range in price from $20 to $35 depending on location, when you buy your ticket, and if you want to do yoga or just dance. Otherwise, you don’t need any cash on site.
Agrawl says, “People love attending because the energy is palpable, and it’s the most high vibrational, positive, authentic feeling since everyone is lucid and sober.”
Our felined-focused morning finished with a group sing-a-long, sitting on the floor, chanting, “We are all one.” Then we were all given a small card with an intention from Martha Graham that we read together: “All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”
And like that, the collection of random strangers of all ages, from all parts, slipped out the door. The mood was happy, peaceful and energetic. In the car culture of LA, it was nice to sing, dance and connect with my city neighbors in a unique and meaningful way. A costumed cat biked past me as I walked to my car and said, “How do you not have a great day after that?” Right she was.
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Images by Nar Levoni