Breaking down the magic behind All Day I Dream: Lee Burridge weighs in on his sacred space
“His music is like sunlight and you just want to dance.”
I walk down a concrete set of stairs only to be welcomed by a sea of revelers who traveled from near and far to be in the presence of one of the season’s most sought-after events: All Day I Dream. Some say it is the quintessential day party that evokes magic, bringing out the best in every one of us. Others recall it as a summery landscape brimming with exultant vibes, tasteful music and an organic aesthetic that make for a superlative Sunday afternoon.
All Day I Dream is not merely a record label, but an internationally acclaimed day party and inviting community inspired by Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay.
Around 5pm, Lee is spotted sauntering around East Williamsburg’s The Well. Small clusters of fans excitedly approach the UK producer, clad in a white Tom Rebl tee-shirt, as they introduce themselves and shower him with compliments.
“Burridge and his fellow music makers create a symbiotic relationship among themselves and the crowd,” one attendee, Hilarie, explains to me. “Everyone moves as one, and feeds off of the total positivity that is unparalleled at any other events. No matter where you go to experience this party, you end up being transformed by the day dream that envelopes your being.”
For those who have yet to encounter the mind behind All Day I Dream, know this: Lee is a man of many words, and perhaps the warmest individual you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. He firmly shakes my hand as he tells me how nice it is to meet me, and I knew he had meant every word.
“[All Day I Dream] started actually five years ago today (June 14), on a roof in an office-ops building. I had this idea for an event the year before because I played the same venue, and the production was lacking. It was really hot, no shade. And also in New York at the time – I didn’t really like any of the venues – the DJ booth was either high up in the sky or the sound wasn’t good. So I decided, ‘Okay, I’ve found all this music I love with a melodic thread; maybe I’ll try to do a party and give this sort of experience to people and try and connect them again.’ Because I was finding music had become quite cold. And it was sort of the end of minimal techno. People weren’t connected anymore, they weren’t looking at each other, they weren’t talking. They were having a solitary experience and to me music joins people together. And my intention that year was to make people smile. Here we are five years later.”
In just five years, All Day I Dream has grown to be a cultural journey relished by electronic music zealots across the globe. Once a party that primarily played host to Burners, ADID has transformed into a grand spectacle that sells out over two months in advance, because its allotted amount of tickets can no longer compete with the overwhelming demand the event attracts. Those same tickets have been advertised by original ticket holders for double – even triple – face value, and still, stragglers are willing to sacrifice over $100 for an event they could have easily attended for $35. There is a reason for it, and there’s something to be said about ADID’s massive cult following and the intense desire to participate.
Simply put, this does not exist in EDM. At a typical EDM show, the headliner does not enter the crowd and engage with fans on an individual basis, but rather heads straight to his green room. The unfortunate truth is that many of today’s biggest stars are not sentimental storytellers, but lean more towards crowd pleasers. The connection between Lee and his fans, however, is particularly genuine — so much so that he takes the time to get to know his avid followers on a more personal level. He not only hears, but listens to fans’ stories and in turn relates his own. In doing so, Burridge proves the existence of the ever-growing gap between EDM and the underground.
“I didn’t want to just get numbers through the door. I wanted to do something that belongs to people – a group of people that wanted to mix with each other and maybe make new friends. One of the sweetest things actually is that I met nine couples who weren’t couples but met at All Day I Dream and are now married. That’s beautiful. To me, I’ve succeeded. When I first started playing at Fabric in London, the thing that really made it so special aside from it being an amazing club, was the crowd. I’m surprised myself at the rapid growth and how it’s spread out but I guess the internet has a way of making people aware of what’s going on. It worries me sometimes that the secret’s out. But I’ve been walking around and everyone is smiling – it’s a nice group of people. I want to create something different. And I want it to feel like it belongs to the men and women that come to this party. I’m one of these people, it’s a communal experience.”
From the very beginning, all Lee hoped to achieve was to distribute good music and make people smile. By curating a party that embraces community and is tailored to both the artists and the fans, it’s easy to see that he’s succeeded.
The crowd’s energy amplifies once Burridge walks toward the stage. Teal and purple fabrics billow in the light summer breeze like majestic waves while lime green, royal blue and periwinkle paper lanterns gently whirl above our heads. Bubbles drift before us and glitter is projected onto admirers wedged between delicately carved wooden structures adorned with fresh flower arrangements and a disco ball for added flair. A fleeting moment: all is perfect and we have reached a state of bliss.
“[The crowds] are very similar. I mean, it’s a very specific type of person that wants to be part of the community, wants to smile, wants to connect. Burning Man has had a lot of influence on me and on other people, and I think that draws a certain person as well. Or it draws something out of people that they don’t even know is there. I think being a Dreamer is a beautiful thing because you can dream of anything you want. This was my dream; I know it sounds cheesy but it’s been realized every time we throw an event. It’s really as simple as this: my intention the first year was to make people smile. And it still is. I look out and it gives me so much joy to see that. I think it’s so open and friendly.”
It’s this kindness that Lee Burridge capitalizes on as he exudes nothing but positivity, allowing listeners to bask in his radiating energy and vice versa. In this sacred space, we gain one another’s strength and joy to transcend life’s daily trials and tribulations.
The vivid glow of cell phone screens illuminates our dimmed temple as the pitter-patter of rain is impeccably timed with Lee’s closing track: a hauntingly exquisite edit of Sade’s “Pearls.” It is 10pm and we are spent — but we continue to stand in silence still dreaming.
Photos courtesy of Stephen Bondio