My eyes opened very slowly when my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Awakening in a haze, I pondered, do I REALLY want to do this? My bag was packed, I recalled in a daze, so I hastily got ready and sped out the door to a River North loft space, not knowing what to expect.
If you haven’t heard of Daybreaker yet, it’s a movement in cities around the world. From Chicago to New York to London to Tel Aviv, attendees are urged to change the way they start their mornings, and consequently, their days. Daybreaker’s mission discusses the need to break up the monotony; we’re so frequently immersed in our routines that we forget that an essential is also fun, self-care, and, as Daybreaker mandates, a little bit of mischief.
The day starts out with 5:30am yoga, followed by a dance party from 6:15-8:30am. The night before, I responsibly packed my bag, knowing that if I didn’t do so in advance I would likely shut off my alarm and give up, and went to bed promptly at 10. My alarm still went off far too soon, as I assembled my sequin crop top and yoga pants get-up (with a jacket over it so my Lyft driver didn’t ask any questions about my disco dance party attire). What followed was something so magical that I encourage you to sign up for your city’s Daybreaker and purchase a ticket right now – you won’t regret it.
5:30 – I took a seat in the back amid a full house of yogis. I’d already procured my silent disco headphones, which we’d be wearing for yoga as well. I didn’t bring a mat with me, but it didn’t matter as we began our practice and I noticed that many others didn’t either. At this moment, I wasn’t fully invested just yet. I could still be asleep for another hour, I grumbled, lamenting my warm, plush bed.
Then, yoga began. I practice yoga regularly, so I was hoping it would be an easier flow to energize us for the morning. El Gotlieb led us on an hour-long journey of vinyasa flow sequences, just enough to wake us up, loosen our stiff muscles, and ready our dance moves. “Breathe outwhat no longer serves you.” I was immediately at ease as I digested these mantras through my headphones. By the time we reached Savasana, I felt the sought after yogic peace and no longer regretted being up and about; instead, I felt unbelievably accomplished.
6:30 – The disco ball kept spinning and lights illuminated the vast loft space. I drank a coconut antioxidant drink and ate a bag of Skinny Pop, two of the snacks and beverages offered as part of a free spread. For those who require caffeine, yes, there was coffee. Fear not. I soon realized my friend, fellow writer Erin Vogel, had overslept a bit, and I endured a moment of questioning when I wondered if I would enjoy the experience if I didn’t know anyone. I observed groups of friends and loved ones in disco-themed attire, laughing and smiling in community. I changed into my flare skirt, willing to give it a try.
6:35 – The dance party began. Screens on both sides of the DJ stage played Saturday Night Fever (only the most iconic disco film, in my opinion, minus the fact that the plotline is actually super depressing besides the sweet disco scenes on that light-up stage) and Soul Train videos. I felt awkward without knowing anyone there, checking my phone every five seconds to make it look like I was occupied, but after a couple minutes I realized that my solo status at this event didn’t matter one bit, and I soon relaxed. My dance moves turned from fully inhibited to fully free quickly (I don’t know if this is a good thing) and I somehow found myself front row center (again, I am unsure how this occurred). The DJ along with the day’s host brought the group together by selecting dancers from the crowd to go up on stage (thankfully for everyone there, no one had to copy my disco moves). We cheered, we danced along, we disco danced.
As the morning went on, I found myself observing those around me. There was a women wearing an afro, sequins, and roller skates, whose coordination and dedication to the theme I truly admired. Another woman was celebrating her 50th birthday with her friends by her side. There was a man wearing a silk cheetah print top. And everyone was embraced as part of the Daybreaker community.
7:30 – Four dudes dressed up as The Village People led us in renditions of “Y.M.C.A.” and “Macho Man,” standing in front of the crowd in some funky getups. It was at this point in the morning that all of us became part of the Daybreaker community. Everyone had gone from dancing at half speed to breaking out their finest moves, singing along with the retro tunes and recognizing that this was all happening before the standard 9-5 workday (cue Dolly Parton).
8:05 – Erin arrived and at first, looked a little befuddled at the scene around her. I would too if I had just walked in on a crowd of people who were wearing headphones and had been dancing for an hour and a half. And beyond this, yep, a Soul Train dance line had begun, with people shaking it up and down the aisle and displaying their finest retro grooves. At this point, everyone was acting like old friends whooping it up at a celebratory party. And, it really was one, after all. An outgoing and adventurous soul, Erin eased in quickly and soon was as enraptured by the event as the rest of us. Throughout the morning, we danced to disco greats including “Stayin’ Alive” (obviously), “Le Freak,” “September,” and “Bad Girls.” By the end of the morning, my muscles were sore like I’d just danced for hours at a wedding or ran 10 miles. But it felt great, and the endorphin high was on another level entirely.
8:30 – We ended the morning with a meditative reading, sitting on the floor. The amount of peace and joy I felt, having experienced something so transcendent and unique in my city, was astounding, and it carried me through my day. We got to head up to the rooftop, the alternate location of the event had it not rained, and gazed out at the skyline. I felt so lucky that I live in a city where events such as these are possible. I realized that Daybreaker is for everyone; groups of friends and families; people younger and older; solo or together. The event united us all as a part of something bigger than ourselves, and as an added perk, it was the most productive I’d been by 8:30am in well, forever?
If you’re thinking of going to Daybreaker, I urge you to give it a try. Every month brings a new theme and a new swanky location. If you’re not a morning person, just purchase a dance party ticket. But I encourage you to try the yoga, too. As much as I initially wished I was under the covers, by the end of the morning I was so glad I didn’t hit snooze on that alarm.