Daybreaker Denver Brings Sober Dance Party to Invisible City | Westword

International Early-Morning Sober Dance Party Daybreaker Returns to Denver

Thinx founder Radha Agrawal's sober, early-morning dance party comes to Denver's Invisible City this weekend.
Denver's Daybreaker celebration at Red Rocks in 2022.
Denver's Daybreaker celebration at Red Rocks in 2022. Gabrielle Demmer
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Radha Agrawal's CV is several pages long. She's a motivated business tycoon and serial entrepreneur, so her lengthy list of jobs and investment endeavors is unsurprising: former investment banker, author, public speaker, co-founder of Thinx period underwear and creator of Belong Center, just to name a few. Agrawal even toured as a public speaker with Oprah's nine-city stadium tour, Vision: Your Life in Focus, back in 2020.

But it's Daybreaker, Agrawal's early-morning sober dance parties, that rocketed her career to an entirely new level after its creation in 2013.

"I would go [to NYC's Verboten club] on Friday, Saturday nights with friends, and it just felt like zombie land," Agrawal says. "I couldn't let my freak flag fly as a woman. It was often seen as an invitation to creepy dudes to come and dance on you. Everyone was doing some new designer drug, so no one was really present; people were disassociated."

Then she went to Burning Man, the annual festival held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Around 80,000 Burning Man attendees construct a temporary desert city devoted to an artistic, expressive and communal ethos. The anti-capitalist celebration of creativity changed Agrawal's life. 

"I went out one night at like four o'clock in the morning by myself to explore the festival," she remembers. "I came upon this art car, deep in the festival...and I started dancing by myself and really getting into my own self-expression, and honestly rediscovered my body. I always thought that I looked silly when I was dancing — or I had to be fucked up when I was dancing...and in that moment, I was alone. I didn't have any friends around. I just threw my bike down and got into the music, into my body. I remember crying, actually.

"Then I opened my eyes and the sun was coming up," she continues. "I remember having this almost out-of-body spiritual experience of seeing the sunrise, dancing among a group of strangers, but feeling such deep belonging in myself."

Agrawal decided to bring that early-morning sober dance party back to New York, and organized the first Daybreaker in December 2013. She thought of it as a social experiment: Would people show up to an early-morning party, where alcohol was replaced with green juice and tea? Would they "really recognize that we can actually dose ourselves in our own natural high...through understanding our neurochemistry?" she asks, adding that in some ways, Daybreaker events are "reverse-engineered" to release dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin from music, daylight and touch. 

If Daybreaker started as a social experiment, it was an obvious success. The first party was in the basement of a coffee shop in Union Square at 6 a.m. on a weekday morning during the season's first snowfall. Despite all that, more than 100 people showed up.

What started as a local NYC gathering has now blossomed into an international celebration with more than 500,000 members in 31 cities, with major brand partners including Adidas, Nike and Samsung. Right now, Daybreaker is on its tenth-anniversary tour, the Together Tour, and will be in Denver at Invisible City on Saturday, October 14.

Daybreaker is a three-hour experience and does more than just give people a sober environment to party in. The event starts with an hour of yoga and movement practice (sometimes a dance class or breathwork) set against soundscapes from a harp or piano. "The first hour is very much to kind of get the cobwebs out, get yourself into the flow and prepare your body, mind and soul for two hours of dancing without alcohol," Agrawal explains.

Predictably, the next two hours are devoted to dance. If Daybreaker is near a residential community, attendees wear headphones, silent-disco style. Otherwise, the party is on full blast. Agrawal says there are even "wow moments" sprinkled in — think breakdancers or aerialists — before the event ends with a secret concert and closing ceremony. The closing ceremony acts as a grounding moment and "really helps you integrate," she says. "We end with an intention reading, so the whole community reads a poem together as a family. Kind of like at church when you read the Bible, but obviously not religious. But that grounds everyone into a communal moment where everyone gets to share their voice together."

Each Daybreaker has a theme, and the anniversary celebrations are shimmery parties of gold and black. Artists at Denver's upcoming Daybreaker include Agrawal herself, emcee Elliott LaRue, yogi Anna Staysha and DJ Chris Weir.

Ultimately, Daybreaker is "a call to bring community together in big metropolitan cities where we are often lonely and have no friends and socialization is so connected to drinking, alcohol and drugs," Agrawal concludes. "There's a codependency between having fun and being the idea was, can we merge the worlds of wellness and the world of nightlife and festival culture?"

Daybreaker Denver, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, October 14, Invisible City, 941 Santa Fe Drive. Tickets start at $40.
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