It’s Wednesday morning, at approximately 6:00am EST, and I have just been bear-hugged by a grown man dressed as a banana.
“Welcome!” he exclaims with a broad smile that is simultaneously remarkable and mildly disturbing for such an ungodly hour.
We have just entered into Daybreaker Toronto, a pre-dawn dance party movement founded in New York City by two friends who envisioned building a community around wellness, camaraderie, self-expression, mindfulness and mischief. Now in 15 cities around the world, Daybreaker Toronto offers a way to earn your morning sweat in a space decidedly more interesting than your local gym. In lieu of alcohol, guests chug shots of cold brew coffee and sip fresh juices.
As with all Daybreaker Toronto events, ours begins with a more traditional sweat sesh: a yoga class. With mats rolled out in the centre of Pursuit OCR, an obstacle-course-training gym, we get bendy to soft techno beats courtesy of a DJ stationed atop a warped wall.
At 7am, the official start of the dance party approaches and vinyasas are punctuated by the giddy laughter of our fellow dancers arriving. So we roll up our mats as the DJ turns up the volume and tempo, and the crowd comes together to dance like no one (save for their Instagram and Snapchat followers) is watching. Dancing along with our new friend in the banana suit is a woman in light-up sneakers, a man in a Pepto-pink full-body spandex suit, several Christmas elves, and a dance recital worth of tutus and sequins. There are also several suits and other iterations of business casual attire, for easy transition from rave-to-office.
Over the course of the next two hours, we are treated to group limbo under an oversized plastic candy cane, a horn section that casually winds its way through the crowd, a request to hug the stranger next to you, a massive group hug, a moment of quiet reflection, and a serenade of Christmas carols from an a cappella quartet. And because this particular event is taking place in an obstacle course, we are invited to take a shot at the ropes, monkey bars, ring traverse, and cargo net (find me a man dressed as an grown-up elf who can resist the siren song of a 5-foot-deep ball pit).
As 9am encroaches, revelers high-tail it to the change rooms to transition from sequins and taffeta to sensible shoes and tweed. Bundled up and prepared to squint into the daylight, I notice a receiving line of strangers waiting to dole out farewell bear hugs. I scan the line and note that my banana is nowhere to be seen, but a woman in a white fur cuff and that same beaming smile is waiting with outstretched arms. I go in for the real thing.
To find out more about the next Daybreaker par-tay, click here.