It’s six a.m. on Tuesday and, instead of reaching for the coffee mug, you adjust your neon light-up wristband. A loud beat pumps through the speakers and hundreds of other people bounce to the rhythm. Crazy outfits, wide smiles, and magical energy fill this space. You pinch yourself and realize you definitely aren’t dreaming — you are wide awake!
What could this possibly be? Daybreaker, a morning dance party starting as early as five a.m. in venues around the globe! A viral phenomenon, Daybreaker has grown over the past two years from a small social experiment in the basement of a New York City coffee shop to a popular celebration in 28 major cities at unique and interesting locations worldwide.
Each one of the three of us attended a local Daybreaker event in either Seattle or New York City. Even though we were nearly 3,000 miles apart, our major takeaways and event inspirations were extremely aligned. All three of us agreed that we just had to go back for another Daybreaker experience and that we couldn’t wait to apply these Daybreaker-inspired ideas to our designed brand experiences.
What makes Daybreaker so special? To start, each event is hosted in extraordinary places and nontraditional venues that highlight the host city.
The event in Manhattan, for example, took place on a cruise ship. Attendees shimmied, shook, and sashayed on all four levels of the ship, as well as the outer deck, as they cruised around the New York Harbor. The quintessential selfie stick moment happened when the Daybreaker dancers noticed the ship was passing a Big Apple icon, allowing participants to get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty.
In Seattle, the Daybreaker experience was hosted at the Experience Music Project, located right next to the one-and-only Space Needle. The attendees were equally as animated to have a view of their picturesque city.
Organizing an event that highlights the host city without taking place at the main tourist destination creates an element of surprise and intrigue. These events were cool before they even started because of the out-of-the-ordinary locations.
One of the core values of Daybreaker is camaraderie, and attendees felt it from the very first minute. Big hugs were handed out readily by staff members as people arrived. Everyone was encouraged to express themselves, be mindful, and be open to new experiences.
Daybreaker is about coming together and being spontaneous. For both events, a very simple theme was created beforehand, which instantly brought people together. The Daybreakers in Seattle sported neon clothes while, in New York, everyone wore blue. This idea required minimal effort from the participants but went a long way to create community and make people feel like they were a part of something bigger — all simply based on an outfit choice! Swag like glitter sticks and goofy mustaches were passed out, which led to laughs and closer bonds. The color-coordinated outfits sealed the deal that guests were amongst a cohesive group ready to seize the day with the same mentality.
Mix it Up
Daybreaker organizers know that to maintain audience engagement, they need to keep the program moving... literally! For the first hour, attendees had the option to participate in energetic yoga or a cardio aerobic dance routine. Next, the DJs turned up the music and the crowd made way for talented break dancers to take the floor. Later, popular line dances like the Cupid Shuffle had the crowd moving as one entity. In different areas of the venues, Daybreak dancers could experience interesting surprises such as a live jazz band, interactive mimes, bubbles, and dance battles. Everywhere attendees turned there was something unexpected. The New York event concluded with an electric violinist crowd-surfing on top of a gigantic, inflatable flamingo.
Daybreaker created environments that kept the audience engaged from start to finish. They did this by producing experiences that constantly changed while also enticing multiple senses and emotions. They were uplifting, motivating, spiritual, and fun — all before the start of the work day.