The wave of early-morning dance parties has spread from the East Coast and landed in Bellevue. The Wake, founded by a pair of Mercer Island brothers, Royce and Austin Yuen, debuted last week at Resonance at Soma Towers with approximately 30 people in attendance.
The event began at 6 a.m. with an hour of power yoga followed by a nightclub-esque experience of house music, lights, and dancing until 9 a.m. Local companies, including Café Cesura, Jujubeet, and Vita Coco, offered refreshments.
But why start something so unique in Bellevue instead of Seattle, where the demographic might be a better match for the event? It’s about the community.
“I spend a lot of time in downtown Bellevue with my family, and through that I’ve grown a personal affinity toward the community, and I’m building personal relationships with the people that are here,” Royce said. “When we thought about a place to do (The Wake), we wanted to do something unique and bring it to downtown Bellevue first.
“There’s a certain perception about the Eastside, and there’s nothing really cool and unique happening here, so we thought it was a cool opportunity. If we were going to start something, let’s start it here and bring something new and fresh to this community first,” he said.
The pair will venture across the lake for an event in South Lake Union in September, but don’t expect the event to take place in a dance club. Resonance at Soma Towers was originally designed as a chamber music performance space. Seattle’s initiation to early morning dance parties will happen at 415 Westlake.
“We thought of the typical spots, like nightclubs, and we had many debates about whether a nightclub was the right route to go,” Austin said. “Part of what we wanted to do was disassociate with the whole nightlife scene, so finding a venue outside of that was a thing for us.”
Royce said that when he was introduced to the idea of early morning dance parties, he was intrigued by the blend of dance, music, and fitness. The brothers sat on the idea for a few months, and about four weeks ago decided to pull the trigger and go for it.
“I think we have the market and the demographic that wants this type of thing. They are looking for alternatives to the nightlight-clubbing-raving scene, and there’s obviously a lot of people that are passionate about yoga and fitness. Especially with the changing demo in downtown Bellevue,” Royce said. “In literally three weeks, we planned the whole entire thing and had our first one.”
The event had fewer attendees than the Yuens had hoped, but Austin said they knew three weeks wasn’t a lot of time to promote the event.
“It was important for us to get (the first one) done. We needed something to capture it, to get people who could be advocates and ambassadors, and get images and marketing material for people to really get behind it,” Austin said. “That’s exactly what we wanted from this launch event, to test the waters and see if it was really viable. We’ve been really encouraged by the result.”
Resonance event manager Kristopher Jenkins also is encouraged by the result of the launch event.
“We want all of the events in our space to be interactive and encourage audience participation. … If that means we do something that’s a little different at 6 in the morning, and are willing to experiment, it’s a sign that we really are open to a lot of different ideas,” Jensen said. “My goal is to try and get as many people in and out of this space so it becomes a place that people are familiar with, know where it is, and is a part of the cultural thread of the community.”
In addition to creating a social community event, The Wake is socially conscious, too — 10 percent of launch-event proceeds go to fitness-class provider Upower, and the Yuens plan to continue partnering with nonprofits.
“We believe that everything we do in life can have impact,” Royce said. “And even your dancing has the power to enhance someone else. That’s why we make it a priority to partner with local non-profits and various charity organizations for all of our events.”
The Wake’s first Seattle event will be held at 6 a.m. on Sept. 9 at 415 Westlake. The “After Dark” Yoga + Dance Edition will be 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Resonance at SOMA Towers. Tickets are available online.