Relive the night-time highs of your pre-baby life by daytime partying with your children- yep, kids club just got cooler
The DJ throws out a Happy Mondays tune and the packed dance floor – full of neon outfits and crazy facepaint – goes wild, shaking their glow sticks. It could be an inner-city warehouse party or a field circa 1990. Except it’s 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and, if you look closely, you’ll see hordes of toddlers.
There are even babies in slings jigging to the beat. And, when the glitter cannon goes off, everyone squeals with delight. Scanning the place for Phoebe, my own two year old, I find her collecting shiny pieces of glitter, while my six year-old son William is throwing some Gangnam-Style shapes. When my husband returns from the bar with a pint, I realise we’ve managed that rare weekend achievement – everyone is happy.
Merge your world with your kids'
Billed as a music and dance party for the post-rave generation of parents and kids, our harmony is down to a Big Fish Little Fish (BFLF) event. One of a growing band of ‘family raves’, it’s been running sold-out parties in south London for the past few years, and this is its north London launch. Pitching itself apart from other baby discos due to its grown-up music policy, which ranges from old-school ska to funk and pop, its tagline is ‘For 2-4 hour party people’. It’s fun for the kids, yes, but it also offers parents a chance to rediscover something we loved doing pre-babies.
'I wanted to engage with my kids in adult culture - in a way everyone could enjoy'
And it’s not just a London thing – family clubbing events are springing up across the UK, including Baby Rave, which now takes place in Leeds, Belfast and Cardiff. Nina Lyndon, director of charity New Future Collective, and mum to Lolo, seven, and Micki, one, pioneered the scene by setting up Disco Loco in Hackney seven years ago. ‘After having Lolo, I realised I couldn’t go out and party,’ she says. ‘It seemed all I could do with my baby was sing along to nursery rhymes with other women – I hated it! I really wanted to engage my kids in adult culture, and in a way everyone could enjoy.’
According to psychologist Mia Scotland, family clubbing is a great way to merge your idea of fun with your child’s. ‘As a society, we continually create separation between children and adult worlds, which often means mums feel alienated from their old life. This increases the chance of feeling resentful towards our children,’ she says. For parents sick of endless weekend trips to playgrounds, it’s an activity to actually look forward to.
Setting a positive example
Before the demands of parenthood, many of us relished the positive parts of club culture (yes, lots of us still do, but now it’s all dependent on babysitters). ‘For a start, it gets you all away from the TV, and the exercise, music and social atmosphere is great for your child’s physical and emotional development,’ says Mia.
'You don't just want your baby to mimic you loading the washing machine or chatting on the phone'
‘Your toddler loves seeing you happy, just as much as you love seeing her happy. And all children learn from watching adults – you don’t just want them to mimic you loading the washing machine or chatting on the phone, but also enjoying music and dancing. It teaches them that adults have fun, too.’
Hosted at the same music venue – The Dome – where I spent every Saturday night for two years in my late teens (yep, blast from the past), it takes me a while to recover from the flood of memories of my youthful misadventures. Being here with my two and five year olds is bizarrely comforting, as if my old life and my new one as a mum have finally met.
Transformed from its previous life as a chill-out zone, one room in the club has become a kids’ dream world of play tents, inflatables and ball pits. It’s hard to get my two to leave, but we bribe them with pulled pork and coleslaw buns from the street-food style café, where 50s rock ’n’ roll tunes are playing.
Keeping up your dance moves
Here, we find new mums Saskia, 28, and Lydia, 32, from Kent, who have come for their first family disco with daughters Georgie and Eva, both 10 months. ‘We used to be big clubbers and love the idea of recapturing that vibe,’ says Saskia. ‘Once you’re a parent, it’s surprisingly hard to find opportunities to dance. And it’s not just us who love dancing – kids are so natural and happy when they’re throwing some moves.’
OK, so I’m not partying with the total abandon of my pre-kids nights out – and at one point I have a mild panic attack when my daughter totters off to another part of the room and I can’t find her. In the end, she’s brought back by another parent, which reassures me that everyone’s in the same boat. People are looking out for other people’s kids, as well as their own, plus there are lots of staff keeping an eye on things.
And, while most parents are on shandy rather than Tequila shots (probably a good thing), it feels like a totally new, not to mention hangover-free, way to party. I’ve realised I won’t be hanging up my raving shoes quite yet. In fact, I’m planning to pass them on.
How do you find ways to blend your favourite activities with family life? Tell us below in the comments box.