It's still dark outside as I head toward Wicker Park in an Uber. We make a stop to pick up my friend Sarah. Her and I exchange groans about how tired we are and contemplate how crazy it is that we are awake at 4:30am. We head towards Navy Pier, where the dark sky meets the steel blue water, in a disorienting gradation.
My legs are still sleepy as we bolt from the car, down the pier. I remember thinking how surreal it looked, abnormally empty. After frantically scanning each boat we pass, we finally find the Spirit of Chicago. We are running late - Shocker.
We claim our tickets and climb up a ramp, then two sets of stairs. The sound of an echoing voice spills out over the sides of the boat, but I can't quite make out what it is saying. We finally reach the top deck and I know we found what we came for!
More than 50 people are spread out on yoga mats, rhythmically moving with the directions of an instructor wearing a headset and a captain's hat. This early morning gathering of yoga-meets-dance party is called Daybreaker. Started in New York, Daybreaker's mission is to create a community that values wellness, camaraderie, self-expression and mindfulness. What better way to feel alive in the morning than to have a dance party with a group of complete strangers?
After the group yoga session, we were all invited inside of the yacht for the real fun to begin! It was literally like walking into a scene from a movie - stobing lights, bubble machines, ocean-themed blow up toys, and a DJ blasting "I'm On A Boat".
Sarah and I venture out onto the deck again, which has been transformed into a lounge area, complete with a larger-than-life chess set. The boat leaves the dock and we all wave to the people left on the pier, as if we are saying a final goodbye before heading off on a grand adventure.
For a little more than an hour, the boat circles the harbor, passing the planetarium and the Shedd. The DJ continues to "rock the boat" with dance party favorites, and at one point, a mermaid makes a guest appearance!
As the party comes to a close, and we return to the pier, we are handed a card with a quote by keynote speaker, Steve Maraboli, which read:
"This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving. I choose to live life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, 'aw shit, he's up!'"
This card now sits on my desk, so I can look at it everyday. Daybreaker was a truly amazing experience that I will most definitely never forget.