Angelenos are used to waking up early. Even on a bakingly hot September morning, the beaches are filled with surfers, canyons teeming with hikers, freeways full of frustrated commuters, and yoga studios brimming with sweat and savasanas – all at the crack of dawn. So it's somewhat surprising that Daybreaker, the early morning rave series, originated earlier this year in New York, where 6:30am is more likely a bedtime than a call time. Nonetheless, this morning's first west coast incarnation of Daybreaker was instantly at home in Venice, full of neo-hippie, neon-clad early risers and club ragers alike.
We're not typically shy when it comes to conversations around drugs and dance music. That's cool and all, but you know what's really edgy? Not taking drugs. That's what everybody did at the unabashedly wholesome Los Angeles Daybreaker debut. Well, as far as we know.
Inside the Wurstküche sausage restaurant on Lincoln Blvd in Venice, DJ Eric Sharp woke everyone up with a fairly uncompromising set of deep and nü-house—somewhat jarring at first, but winning for its curation as much as its mixing. A three-piece horn section, a vestige of west coast house music days past, aggressively laid their tones upon tracks by Basement Jaxx and Clean Bandit until, perhaps, the musicians realized the crowd's enthusiasm was not all that discerning. People were happy just to be there, working up a sweat in a loud box with a bunch of strangers and a few friends before work or school or brunch or nothing at all.
Upon walking into any dance-club setting, a lot of us are habituated towards walking straight to the bar. At Daybreaker, you find yourself with a yogurt and granola parfait or kombucha in hand a minute later. All this organic wellness is part of the Daybreaker ethos, according to co-founder Matt Brimer. "Normally, people's mornings are pretty routine," he told THUMP. "But we're trying to create the most fantastic morning experience on a weekday, before going to work. The aim is to be inspiring, active, get your blood flowing and to be social and community based."
The series has captivated New York while popping up in San Francisco and London, and is expanding at a swift pace. "The growth pretty cool to see," Brimer said. "There's no alcohol, no drugs. We wanna have people leave and feel fantastic and go to work. It's about love, it's about mindfulness, it's about connecting with other people, being present. And then bringing those kinds of ideas to your friends and colleagues and out into the world."
The energy of the place was all positive vibes and enthusiasm, wonky dance moves and smiles. Some dressed practically in sports bras and gym shorts, whereas others reveled in layers of costumery – and then there was that hirsute guy in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Suffice to say, the homie got sweaty. Everyone felt comfortable enough to let go of what one reveler called "fimage"—as in fear-of-image—and just dance.
As with any event, the vibe is either busted or bolstered by the DJ. Someone made a good call, because Eric Sharp was an impeccable choice for vibelayer. "This is the first time I've ever played a party at sunrise that didn't have people up all night," he told us. "It was a lot brighter. I was able to play pretty uplifting and the energy level in the room was really why. Whereas, if you're playing at 6:30 in the morning usually, the energy is a little bit darker. People aren't gonna be amped up, jumping around as much. "
Sharp offered his perspective on who he saw in the crowd too. "Westside people are a little more new agey, earthy-crunchy, a little more spiritually grounded," he explained. "I think when they approach a dancefloor situation, they're trying to feel some sort of universal vibration, as opposed to in Hollywood, where they'll stand around trying to look cool and land an acting contract."
While the Venice crowd may have been a receptive audience to play for, the venue was way outta leftfield, considering that NYC versions took place at THUMP fav club Verboten. Granted, Wurstküche's built-in wall speakers are likely better than what nearby Hot Dog on a Stick could provide, but there are actual clubs in LA, even if New Yorkers aren't aware of them! Unintentionally, the crowd got a taste of what it's like at Panorama Bar as the sun peaked through the east-facing windows, much to the chagrin of those who left their sunnies in the car. There was also, a delightfully grand irony in the fact that a house music party with a relatively high girl-to-guy ratio happened to take place in a sausage shop.
Daybreaker's more notable missteps happened at the end of the two hour party where organizers asked everyone to sit on the floor (the one a few hundred people had just sweat and danced on) and then read a poem together. Fimage or not, this was a bizarre bucket of lukewarm water to throw on a hot dancefest.
Above all, one thing has made and will continue to make this a successful franchise: there's no intoxicant like sweet, black-tar, hydroponic, lab-tested enthusiasm. With a drug like that, Daybreaker could take over the world, one morning at a time.