It was just past 7 a.m. on Wednesday, and the scene inside Sole Repair Shop on Capitol Hill was a little like Saturday night at the club.
This is Daybreaker Seattle, a monthly morning dance party that’s sober, wildly energetic, and a happy, sweaty rejection of the idea that we should be stressing out before work.
“I think there’s something powerful about the morning. How we choose to wake up, what we choose to do with our time,” said Daybreaker Seattle producer Royce Yuen. “Folks leave feeling energized, so that’s what’s important.”
‘Be fully there and be fully yourself’
Royce — who’s also known as DJ Rowz Royce — his brother, Austin, and their friend SarahRose Bernhardt are the trio behind Daybreaker Seattle, one of 16 Daybreaker outposts in cities around the world. Daybreaker Hong Kong launched in October, Daybreaker Paris marked its first anniversary weeks ago, and Daybreaker New York — the original — has been putting on these midweek blowouts for over three years.
Royce and Austin are Seattle natives — born and raised in Beacon Hill then Mercer Island. In the summer of 2015, before they signed on with Daybreaker, they started something called The Wake. It was the same general idea: midweek morning dance boosters, with yoga to kick things off in fitness-loving Seattle.
After six months on The Wake, the brothers got a call from Daybreaker HQ in New York. Could they relaunch The Wake as Daybreaker, joining a global network of over 300,000 members, and supercharge the concept in Seattle? The Wake’s final event was a 300-person bash on the waterfront last August. Then last September, Daybreaker Seattle was born.
“We really encourage people — it’s one of the core values of Daybreaker — to be present. To be fully there and be fully yourself,” Royce said. “There’s something powerful about music and dance minus the alcohol. I think there’s something liberating about the experience.”
An alternative way to connect
Here’s how Daybreaker Seattle events tend to go: First, there’s an hour of yoga at 6 a.m., with breakfast snacks. At 7 a.m., the dance party starts, with live music (this month: DJ Kryspin) and a lot of energy. The crowd size hits a peak around 8 a.m., but before everyone leaves for work, there’s a wind-down: People sit, more soulful music starts — performed this month by Ernest Pumphrey Jr. — and the emcee leads everyone through mindfulness exercises to set an intention for the day.
Daybreaker events are about living your morning with energy and intention, Royce said, “and letting that set the tone for the rest of your day.”
The whole reason Royce and Austin started The Wake, and now Daybreaker Seattle, is because they bet people want an alternative to that standby formula for social connection: night + alcohol + dancing at a club.
And it’s not the only way the trio works to bring people together.
When he’s not dropping beats or producing events, Royce might be at the three-year-old Marketplace Church in downtown Bellevue, where he’s a pastor. Austin is the founding storyteller and video producer for N33D Creative. And SarahRose co-owns and teaches at the Grinning Yogi studios in Seattle.
See photographer Tim Tan’s gallery of photos from yesterday’s dance party on The Evergrey Facebook page. Find updates from Daybreaker Seattle at daybreaker.com/sea, or reach out to Royce and the team at [email protected].
Update: We’ve updated this post with more information from Royce about Daybreaker.