Inside NYC’s Daybreaker, a morning dance party where everyone’s sober

You’ve heard of them before, read about them, perhaps even gone to one or two.

They’re 6 a.m. dance parties that look like nighttime raves, with a couple of key differences: Everyone’s sober and nobody is trying to hook up.

It was the fall of 2013 when the two co-founders of Daybreaker, Radha Agrawal and Matthew Brimer, were brainstorming how to reinvent New York City nightlife.

“What would be the most amazing, creative, connective, happiest, most joyous way to start your morning?” they asked themselves over late-night falafel in Williamsburg, the movement’s current headquarters. “Probably a dance party.”

Inspired by Burning Man, a yearly festival that emphasizes self-expression, creativity and community, Agrawal and Brimer decided to conduct a social experiment. That December, they threw what became their first Daybreaker event in the basement of The Coffee Shop in Union Square. There was live music, a disc jockey and artwork from Burning Man. And instead of alcohol, they served coffee, tea and juices.

More than 200 people with invites showed up. Some even wore costumes.

“No one knew what it was, and we also didn’t know exactly what it would become,” says Brimer, who also founded General Assembly, an education startup. “It was the most wonderful, healthy, energetic, most positive party we’d ever been to. It worked.”