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Only a few years ago, I saw a major network morning show report on a UK trend of people going to “raves” on their lunch breaks to enjoy themselves. Over time, the rise in popularity of electronic music has come across the pond to the US and has sprung a “conscious dance” movement (CDM), taking foothold in major cities such as New York and L.A. In its essence, CDM boils down to healthy partying without alcohol and drugs, while enlightening the mind and body—a workout of sorts.

Piquing my interest, major news outlets such as The New York Times and Huffington Post were reporting on morning dance workouts featuring house and techno DJs. In my opinion, these reports were just giving it a glance-over from an outsider’s standpoint, focusing on the alternative workout and holistic aspects, rather than the music and the party. This led me to realize that there was little assessment available of these workouts from a dance music perspective. Would someone who lives and breathes the electronic music nightlife scene enjoy themselves at these early morning soirees? After all, we are creatures of the night.

So I took it upon my somewhat cynical and skeptical self to embark on a mission to discover the whole conscious dance movement firsthand. I decided to attend a Daybreaker party, a Willkommen Deep House Yoga session, and a Morning Gloryville bRAVE in New York City, in an attempt to gather the whole scope of it.

We just want to create a positive environment with good vibes, good people, and the right music.

Other than what I saw on news coverage, I had no idea what to expect for Daybreaker. I wasn’t sure if the usual suspects I see on the weekends would be there either. Arriving at the club Verboten in Williamsburg, where this Sunday edition was being held, I was welcomed inside to an array of interesting sponsored drinks, varying from iced coffee to oat and fruit smoothies. The “Haiku Guys” were setting up their typewriters in the corner, ready to hand out their musings. A few people were already warming up on the dancefloor.

In the calm before the storm, I took a moment to approach Matthew Brimer, one of the founders of Daybreaker, and ask him how it came about. Inspired by Burning Man, both he and his co-founder Radha Agrawal wanted to create a musical experience that emulated some of the community, art and music aspects of the desert gathering.

“New York nightlife can be so unfriendly,” he tells me. “There are definitely lacking aspects.” I absolutely agree with his statement. Matthew carries on, “We just want to create a positive environment with good vibes, good people, and the right music.”

And good vibes is right. Everyone around me is happy, and there is a positive energy that is somewhat contagious, even to hardened techno cynics like me. The music is housey and well suited for the morning. A motivational MC and a group of live musicians, including a guitar and trumpets, accompanied the DJ as well. It was not the usual crowd of fellow rabble-rousers I run into on the weekend, but these people were open to electronic music and having fun. I joined in on the two-step while people around me were giving it their all.

Their director of operations, Harrison Iuliano, told me their average attendance was 450 and brought up a great point in our discussion—women feel at ease at their events. There are no alcohol-fueled men obnoxiously hitting on them here, as sometimes can be the case in NYC nightlife.

I returned to Verboten a few days later, ready to undergo my first Willkommen Deep House Yoga. Wafting smells of incense ushered me into the main room of the club, where I spread out the Lululemon mat they provided me. With three projector screens of trippy, distant places and candles lining the walls, it was hard to imagine that this was actually the club space I attend on weekends to dance alongside hundreds of people. Oddly enough, it felt clean and Zen.

Accompanied at first by a meditative track list, instructor Danielle Karuna walked us through a feel-good session of vinyasa jivamukti yoga. Eventually our DJ, Tasha Blank, escalated our experience into a faster rhythm—while still keeping it deep and soulful—with tracks by Oliver Schories, Dusky, and Andhim, among others. Being an occasional yoga participant, I found this combination actually quite appealing.

A post-class chat with our instructor and the attendees turned out to be informative. Danielle told me she often performs her yoga class with a DJ, while one of the girls standing next to her opened my eyes to the plethora of events going on in NYC under the “conscious dance” movement. Events like The Get Down and Ecstatic Dance were occurring all around, with the same goal: healthy dance parties. After hearing various opinions, I had to wait until my last event to make a judgment of my own.

I wish there were more events like this… it’s refreshing to just come here and play—or dance.

It was a bit rough to wake up to rain and dark gray skies at 6am on a Wednesday a week later for the Morning Gloryville bRAVE, run by Annie Fabricant and Harry Inglis. Throwing on a funky headband and my crazy patterned leggings, I headed deep into the heart of Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood that creative types have made into their humble abode. The location was a green room with large glass windows on the top floor of a gym, which, coincidentally, I had been to before for an underground techno party. This time, however, it was under completely different circumstances.

I was greeted by cheerful staff who gave me hugs and wished me a good morning. Walking onward revealed a massive, open room sectioned off for dancing, yoga, massages and food. Vendors were selling coffee, smoothies, chia parfaits, and vegan creations, in addition to the complimentary water, almonds and fruits.

The dancefloor was relatively crowded, populated by a lot of girls and guys with fashion ranging from workout clothes to hippie to burner chic, all rocking out to a tech house set reminiscent of a CircoLoco daytime vibe. Everyone had smiles on their faces, and some were seriously getting down to the music. It was a mixed crowd, ranging from Andrew Beck (54), who came all the way from New Jersey to check out a new outlet for dancing, to medical professional Esthefanie Giordano (26), who was just getting into electronic music and thought the event was “really enlightening and freeing—who cares what you wear; just go and have fun!”

One of the DJs that played that morning was Elon, a resident of New York City’s underground music scene known for helping put on ReSolute parties as well throwing his own party, Kolekti. Asked what the difference is between spinning a morning party like this versus an afterparty, Elon divulges, “It’s easier to play to the morning people. There’s a good energy, and I play more of my uplifting, ‘uppy’ tracks.” Despite his track record for extended partying, Elon admits he is a morning person overall and enjoys playing for Morning Gloryville. “I wish there were more [events like this]. As we get old and tired of people being drunk or drugged up, it’s refreshing to just come here and play—or dance.”

One of the partiers, Julian Connor, attends parties similar to the ones I do, such as Cityfox, Verboten and Robot Heart. Being night people, I asked him if he minded getting up so early. “I don’t care too much about losing sleep,” he says. “This is great. People are always trying to do different things.” That’s exactly what I would expect an electronic music lover to say.

After all three experiences, I sat down to digest it all, and it brought me to my conclusion:

Each event has a different vibe that suits different needs. Personally, Morning Gloryville was most similar to the underground events I go to, both musically and setup-wise. However, I also enjoyed the less-crowded and more arts-oriented Daybreaker. People at each party commented on what they like and dislike, and it’s really up to one’s taste and convenience.

I do not think the conscious dance movement will overcome the clubbing and nightlife aspect of the electronic music scene. If anything, it helps show people who may be new to the scene that you don’t have to stay up until 6am or later to dance to a good 4/4 beat—but wake up to it instead. For the people who’ve already partied their hearts out, it’s a chance to enjoy the music holistically, while still having a good time. For the music snobs and critics like me, it’s not the most cutting-edge or complex music, like when I go to see Ricardo Villalobos or Seth Troxler. But I like to see it as a fun workout doing my favorite exercise—dancing.

To join the conscious dance movement in NYC, check out these events below:

Verboten’s Willkommen in the Park: Outdoor Deep House Yoga

8/19 Havemeyer Park 6-10 pm

Morning Gloryville NYC bRAVE

9/17 Havemeyer Park 6:30 am

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