It was 7:30 in the morning, and Shani Gluska had been pole dancing for half an hour, wrapping lithe, muscled limbs around the floor-to-ceiling pole as her sequined bustier glinted in the dimly lit room.
The crowd wasn’t paying much attention to Gluska, as they were bellying up to the bar for shots of Turkish coffee and peanut-butter-and-cacao balls. After all, you need some kind of stimulant when the party’s happening this early in the morning.
Tel Aviv is no newcomer to clubbing, but this was the city’s first Daybreaker, a kind of dance rave taking place during the early morning hours. It was two New Yorkers, Radha Agrawal and Matthew Brimer, who first came up with the concept — famously over a late-night falafel — in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In numerous stories written about the first Daybreakers — which are now regularly held in New York and San Francisco and have also taken place in Los Angeles, Atlanta, London and Brazil — the pair of partiers were looking to break people out of their nightlife routines and turn the clubbing concept around.
In Tel Aviv, where all 350 tickets were sold out for last week’s first Daybreaker, the line was out the door and halfway down the block by 6:45 a.m. at the aptly named Breakfast Bar on Rothschild Boulevard.
Some had paid NIS 120 for tickets that included 6:30 a.m. Yogalates, a combination of yoga and Pilates, and others opted for the NIS 80 tickets that offered entry by 7 a.m. to the club’s inner dance floor, where revelers were grooving to energetic house music by 7:30 a.m.
“It totally works,” said Roy Klein, 33, drinking a shot of Turkish coffee at the bar. “I used to be a clubber, but I took a break. Maybe this will start a new era. These are more my kind of people.”
Klein, who was wearing his company T-shirt — he works for a start-up — may have been referring to the fellow scores of thirty-something guys wearing company T-shirts.
“It’s like a convention,” he said.
Or a developers’ conference. Next to Klein were Guy Hardonag and their friend Michael, all three of whom work at IT security company Checkpoint — “don’t tell anyone, this isn’t according to company protocol,” stage-whispered one of them.
It’s possible the plethora of start-upists were present in force because they often start work at 9:30 or 10 a.m., leaving plenty of time to party before work. And they tend to wear a uniform of jeans and company T-shirts to work, so they’re more identifiable.
But there was also Sean Glass who showed up in his blue terry bathrobe, ostensibly completely naked underneath.
Glass, visiting from the States, said he DJed the first Daybreaker, and, in fact, the in-house DJ was playing the playlist he’d helped create.
“It creates the right vibes,” he said. “It’s dead-on. Daybreaker’s kind of like a package and you want it to work, so it’s cool that they’re using our playlist.”
Currently in Israel on a social entrepreneurship program, Glass said he was planning to put on clothes for the group’s next event, a meeting with Shimon Peres.
“I was in the ocean like three hours ago, I slept two hours,” he said. “I’m a DJ, so I don’t really keep hours, I nap.”
But the rest of the crowd, all of whom appeared to be in their 20s and 30s — yes, I was clearly the oldest person present, except for the Juicy Lucy guy — seemed to follow a more routine schedule.
“We came with our employees,” said Noa Segev and Rony Cohen, owners of fashion e-commerce site 1item. Their workday usually starts at 9 a.m., and they were already heading out by 8:30.
“It’s a fun event before work,” said Segev, 33. “But yeah, it’s a little weird to dance without even one glass of wine.”
Both are friends of Jenny Bush, the Daybreaker TLV organizer whose sister is a friend of Agrawal and Brimer.
Bush said the event was sold out, a pleasant surprise given that it took her a while to get Israelis to understand the concept of partying in the morning.
“We had to explain the concept over and over again,” she said. “They were all, like, a party? In the morning?”
A newcomer to Israel, Bush wasn’t convinced that Israelis are ever early-morning risers who are accustomed to army hours and 8-to-4 workdays.
“I work in high-tech, and our hours are more like, 9:30/10 until 6 or 7 or 8,” she said.
Getting young Tel Avivians up and out the door by 6:30 required certain details, she said, like shots of Turkish coffee — no cappuccinos in sight — and fresh juice. “That’s very Tel Aviv,” she said.
She also wanted people to feel comfortable in the morning so she introduced elements that aren’t always apparent at a regular club, like Shani the pole dancer and musicians that intermittently joined the crowd. This way, she said, people didn’t “have to dance” if they didn’t want to.
“We’re still building a reputation here,” said Bush, who’s hoping to have a Daybreaker every month or so. “We really want to listen to the crowd and see what they want and what they’ll go for.”
And, unlike the usual nightlife experience, from which you may head home to bed after a late-night sabich (an Iraqi sandwich, now Israeli fast-food staple, of a pita filled with fried eggplant and hard-boiled egg), this crowd was gearing up for work, most of them by 9 a.m., just as the party was winding down.
Klein, the start-up guy in the company T-shirt, left a little earlier. “I have to take my dog out,” he said.
And Gluska, who had slipped off the pole by 8:30, walked out the door dressed in full office wear. Want to know what she does by day? Yeah, you guessed it. Neuroscientist. Never assume anything about a pole dancer.
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