It all started over a dinner conversation. One of my best friends mentioned she’d heard of this event called Daybreaker. Originally held in a warehouse in Brooklyn, Daybreaker is a sunrise dance party that travels around the tip of Manhattan on a boat from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. The goal of the event, which is held across the U.S., is to inspire community and wellness through a giant dance party and for the earliest of early birds, a 5 a.m. yoga sessions to really get the good vibes flowing.
The more she described it, the more I felt the event’s siren song calling to me for no other reason that I needed to understand why this existed. And not only existed, but why hundreds of thousands of people around the country were voluntarily getting up before the sun to dance with a bunch of sweaty strangers before heading off to their 9 to 5pm.
And one year later, with my bathing suit pinned into my skirt, I found myself waiting in line to board this party boat about to break the dawn to the best of my abilities.
I don’t remember exactly how my dear friend Bree and I ended up with our tickets last summer. Our group had thrown the idea around for years with more curiosity than commitment, but Bree is one of those friends who just gets things done. That is how she and I, clad in our own interpretation is vacation chic, found ourselves waiting on the Westside Highway to board the Daybreaker boat at 5:45a.m., along with hundreds of other people. Within minutes the Daybreaker regulars made themselves known, greeting one another with an enthusiasm that made it clear they had not ridden the subway here but most definitely walked from their apartments overlooking the river. The Daybreaker crowd is a unique one, influencers from the upper echelons of Instagram society mixed with oddballs who have found their homes amongst the other sunrise dancers and … us. The curious newcomers. The one’s who had not yet donned a custom pineapple onesie and twerked on a balcony rallying in the name of good energy.
After receiving our crew given hugs before boarding the boat (yes, this is a real thing), Bree and I made our way through the ship, taking in the healthy snack bar, grabbing a small space on the deck to watch Manhattan go by, and later, taking to the dance floor to people watch as the DJ began playing. The difference between Daybreaker and another dance party is the amount of positive mantras the DJ is shouting into the microphone at any given moment. Send your negative energy to the sky and let’s bring peace to the world with our collective energy! Leave all your stress and worry on the dance floor and send love to all of your neighbors right now! All we know is this moment, so DANCE! We are changing the world right here, RIGHT NOW!
And for two hours, Bree and I danced.
We danced on the ground level of the boat, on the balcony, on the deck. Watching people twerk on the handrails at 7a.m., yelling and jumping as hard as they could, I found myself both skeptical of their enthusiasm and a small bit impressed with their release of inhibition. Drunk on the good vibes and endorphins, people of all ages danced to electronic music as the city of New York passed by, barely yet awake. Perhaps it was being unable to leave the boat or maybe it was all the dried fruit I had consumed by the end, but as we made our way back to the dock, with the final song playing, I couldn’t help feeling like I too had gotten a hold of the Daybreaker KoolAid and maybe my energy was somehow shifting something in the universe right then.
As we departed the boat, Bree and I went back to my office to get ready for work and grab breakfast. To be honest, that meal was one of my favorite parts of the day as we chatted about the people we saw and laughed at the absurdity of it all. We then crashed at 3p.m. because a 6a.m. dance, it turns out, can really take it out of you.
When I look back, I can only chuckle when I think of Daybreaker. I knew the minute I got off the boat I would never be returning, perhaps because of the preppy east coast crowd it attracted or because it was an event that I only needed to experience once. On paper, Daybreaker involves almost nothing that I normally gravitate towards. Yes, I do love to dance, but I’m not really into electronic music and I’m not a morning workout person. 90 percent of the time, I can quickly decide if something is for me or not for me, but that other ten percent, leaves me surprised. Events like Daybreaker feel like they need to just be experienced because they’re unique and odd and curiosity-inducing. Sometimes that’s the only reason needed. A year later, what I remember most about Daybreaker isn’t the event itself, but the fact that I did something on a whim, completely out of my comfort zone, and I had a lot of fun! Sure, my dance moves probably didn’t shift the energy of the universe, but it was worth giving it a try, right? Because sometimes, you just need to dance.