Behind a bar at Flash, a Shaw nightclub, a woman with funky bangs fills cups with iced coffee. It’s free trade and organic, she says, adding that kombucha, a fermented tea, and chia seed drinks are also on hand. It’s about 7 a.m., and a crowd of mostly millennials has congregated on the dance floor for the launch of Daybreaker, a movement reinventing nightlife as a health-infused wake-up party.
Daybreaker was conceived by Brooklynites Radha Agrawal, 36, and Matthew Brimer, 28, who craved a healthy, booze-free alternative to the bottle-service scene of New York nightclubs. So they set out to prove that inhibitions could be freed from a state of sobriety with an event to revitalize people at the break of day.
“What if we could create the most fantastic way to start off your morning,” went the thinking to “make people feel alive, inspired, creative,” Brimer says.
A year and a half ago, they held the first Daybreaker in New York, drawing 180 people; now the parties pack in up to 1,200, Agrawal says. Washington is the ninth city to host Daybreaker, which has spread, through the efforts of local organizers, to San Francisco, Austin, London and Tel Aviv, for example, with places like Paris, Berlin and Sydney poised to present it next.
According to Brimer, a few hundred joined Daybreaker’s D.C. debut, which adhered to the event’s standard format: 6.am. yoga followed by a two-hour dance party; a closing ceremony features inspirational poems or quotes read in unison from “intention cards” printed with a prodding question on the back. In D.C. it was “What do you desire?”
The dance party felt like a cross between a carnival and a club as hands-in-the-air, spandex-shaking masses let loose alongside performances by a drummer, saxophonists and a pair of women in glittery bikini tops twirling flashing hula hoops.
Kara Gordon, 22, of Takoma, prefers post-work workouts. But the chance to chase yoga with coffee and dancing was too good an offer to pass up.
“I’m a health nut, so I don’t go out and party a lot,” she says.
Self-proclaimed “morning people” Kirsten Bourne, 33, and Nick Renzler, 29, of Bloomingdale, embraced the Daybreaker concept. There’s an optimism to the morning — “feeling like you have a clean slate,” she says.
Daybreaker reminded Bourne of being at Burning Man, a weeklong experimental community in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Indeed, Burning Man inspired Daybreaker, says Agrawal, who attended the festival with Brimer three years ago.
“We wanted to emulate the energy and spirit of Burning Man and also give it our own flair,” she said via email.
“Wellness plus community” is how Agrawal describes the experience. And the message seemed to resonate.
“What’s a better way to wake up than listen to some good music” and “have the opportunity to be with your friends,” says Remy Onstad, 30, of Logan Circle. “This beats the gym in the morning.”
Daybreaker is slated to return to D.C. monthly and charge $25 for tickets and an extra $10 for yoga. See dybrkr.com for details.
Read more fitness stories from Express: