At L.A.'s Daybreaker parties, people get up early to start dancing
For some, the Daybreaker is exercise; for others, it's a quirky way to meet people
As you elbow your way through the dancers, it only takes a few seconds to realize this is not your ordinary club crowd.
To your right, there's a young man wearing rabbit ears. To the left of the live horn section is a guy in a full penguin costume standing near another man whirling in a yellow tutu.
But what makes this club particularly unusual is what you can't see: in an hour or so, most of the dancers will be heading to work.
"It's the best way to start your day," says Alan Crossley, the man in the yellow tutu, dancing to deep house music. "It's good vibes, it's positivity, it's the best way to work out, the best way to connect with wonderful people."
Half rave, half dancercise, the event goes by different names in different cities. In London, for example, it's called Morning Gloryville.
In Los Angeles, it's known as a Daybreaker, and it starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends around 8:30 a.m.
Katerina Anais thought she'd try it out before heading to her PTA meeting.
"It was such a great way to wake up," says Anais. "I wouldn't normally be awake by now."
Given the time of day, they don't serve booze at these events. But the bartender is happy to pour you a shot of juice.
"I was a little bit nervous dancing in the daylight without any alcohol," says first-time Daybreaker Nicole Cannon. "But after the music started, I was into it. It was fun. It was a good workout, actually... better than going to the gym!"
An international trend
It's hard to pinpoint where this trend started. Some say London, some say New York. But two years later, it's gone international, says Daybreaker organizer Argine Ovsepyan.
"We have Daybreakers in London, Tel Aviv, in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, L.A., and it's only growing," says Ovsepyan.
"So if you're in a good mood, you go to work, you spread that around your co-workers, they spread it around their families. It's like a snowball effect. It just keeps going."
It has also become an unconventional way for singles to meet. On this morning, the man in the rabbit ears is chatting up a stranger. And nearby, acupuncturist Carine Camara is on a 6 a.m. date.
"[Her date] said, 'You like to party late, why don't you party early?' So I'm like, 'OK,'" says Camara.
When asked how it's going, Camara only shrugs.
Fun for young and old
Among the 200 dancers are a few clubbers who are using Daybreaker to extend their late-night party, but many of the participants are middle-aged professionals.
"You could be dancing next to a doctor," says Ovsepyan, "you could be dancing next to a student, you could be dancing next to a producer, an artist…"
Observing in the corner are Lena Becerra and her six-year-old son, Malcolm.
"We heard there was a dance party from 6:30 to 8:30 and I was like, we can do that before school and work. It sounds crazy. It just sounds super-fun!"
And at the back of the restaurant, dancing with a woman that looks more than half his age, is 64-year-old Frank Malinowski.
"I don't like dancing by myself, so it's nice to have people to dance with," Malinowski says. "I'm a morning person and my wife is sleeping, and she would rather me be here than bothering her," he says and laughs. (He says he hopes his brother in Winnipeg doesn't read this.)
Even the most devoted Daybreakers admit they couldn't do this every morning. But Ani Banglian, an internet marketing expert who says she has been trying for years to become a morning person, believes this is her best shot.
How's it working out?
"Great!" she says. "This is the best morning I've had all year!"
In an hour and a half, Banglian will be at her desk. Maybe a little perkier, she says, and definitely a little later than usual.