By Sophia Polin
Great Caesar performing at the DL on the Lower East Side as part of Daybreaker this past Tuesday morning. Photo by Rebecca Chin.
Last Tuesday, I left my apartment at 6:15 am and in no mood to party.
I first heard about the Daybreaker morning rave through a friend living in Berlin.
“We’ve got to get these started over here,” she said, linking me to The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of Morning Gloryville, a similar party that originated in London and moved to New York this year.
New York’s dance culture has been steps behind Berlin for decades. If Daybreaker piques the interest of someone who spends her Sunday mornings dancing at Berghain with a bottle of rose in one hand and a blunt in the other, I thought, it might be the trend that ups the ante.
The party at Dinner on Ludlow took place on the third-story dance floor–a glass atrium lined with couches overlooking Delancey Street. It was already hot and sunny by the time the DJ set up. The rave would take place under the scrutinizing glare of daylight.
There were no drugs, no alcohol, and no party garb—save for the drape-y neon outfits of the party promoters—to embellish the scene before me. It was a bunch of people in gym clothes and work attire jumping up and down to house music at 7 am.
The idea, apparently, is to replace a morning run with the adrenaline heart-rate shot of dancing, to get energized for the workday with a community of happy professionals seeking a break from the mundanity of the daily grind. To party sober. And like it.
All good ideas. But on Tuesday morning I couldn’t see it that way.
I’d spent the later hours of Monday and early hours of Tuesday ruining—and subsequently trying to repair—a relationship with a close friend I hadn’t seen in a while. After a sleepless night of destructive miscommunications, I left home to attend Daybreaker in pretty bad spirits.
For the first hour I couldn’t get past the crowd’s obvious affluence. There was an extensive exchange of congratulations on waking up so early.
“When I rolled out in these shoes at 6:30 my doorman was just like whaaaaaat?” said one girl in line. “It’s actually easy to get a cab if you walk over to Lexington,” offered another.
Tickets are $25 ahead of time. That averages at $12.50 an hour. They’re clearly intended for the decently employed. Who knows? Maybe investing in early morning endorphins pays off in good vibes by the end of the day. I should’ve asked the Wall Street guys drinking coconut water at the bar.
By 8, there were about 400 people on the floor. Glowing jellyfish puppets bobbed and swayed to something slightly softer than Skrillex (sadly I missed the Tears for Fears remixes which were apparently strongly featured at the Verboten edition of Daybreaker earlier this month). Hula hoops were tossed. Some girls danced with scarves in a corner. I visited the haiku table, where two “Haiku Guys” wrote and read haikus upon request, and the obligatory body painting table.
I stumbled across one raver painting an angel on a piece of plywood on the edge of the dance floor. When I asked him if he was a regular at Daybreaker he said yes, sometimes as a guest and sometimes as official Angel Painter. “Today I’m a guest. When people gather together to have fun, all the arts should be represented!”
His earnestness made me reconsider my arbitrary bitterness. Who was I to bash good clean fun? On another day, a day rich in Tears for Fears remixes, I might be tossing a hula hoop or painting a starfish on my stomach.
A tatted raver approached me, no doubt attracted by my anomalous rigidness and dour expression. “This your first Daybreaker?” He asked. I said yes. “It’s my fifth,” he replied.
I asked him what kept him coming back. “It’s such a genuine vibe! There’s no alcohol, so you know everyone is here because they really want to be here.” I didn’t quite follow his logic, but I admired the sentiment. Together we drank some aloe water and watched a couple in matching pink running shorts vogue on the bar counter.
“There’s going to be a poetry reading at the end,” my tatted friend excitedly shared.
Instead there was a set by Great Caesar, a horn-heavy Brooklyn-based chamber rock band. The band was celebrating the release of their new EP with New York’s young and athletic elite.
You can check out the video for “Don’t Ask Me Why” by Great Caesar below:
In a strange moment of grace, most of the 400 partiers sat down on the floor for “Still Love”, the semi-saccharine love ballad that opened the show. And although I was stepped upon several times by a reporter (from Berlin, surprise surprise!), and had to leave before the show’s end, I’d say the performance made the $25 investment worthwhile.
Maybe another day I’ll stick around to sip Bloody Marys with the band at an 11 am after party. But only if it’s free.