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My baby just loves to dance

Rave

How it was in more carefree days

(A BBC News article)

It sounds like a clubber’s worst nightmare, but for parents who can’t let go of their dancing days a new breed of disco is emerging – where mums, dads and toddlers come together to boogie.

It’s half-past-two and the club is pumping. A badly dressed, sweaty man in his mid-30s is strutting his stuff to Night Fever, while a girl young enough to be his daughter smiles fondly.

As the glitterball twirls above and the light squares on the dancefloor flash, the man is transported back to his youth, when this sort of thing happened every Saturday.

“Gimme that night fever, night fever,” the loudspeakers blare, while fingers all around are raised John Travolta-like.

Then, with the slap of a tiny hand on his cheek, the man is catapulted back to reality. That girl IS his daughter. It’s 2.30 – but in the afternoon. This is dayclubbing, with the family in tow.

Word of mouth

Baby Loves Disco is a phenomenon which has swept across the United States in the last three years, since a waitress in a small club in Philadelphia had the idea. Thanks to word of mouth and the internet, events now take place in 30 cities.

Now, British parents and toddlers are getting the dancefloor bug too.

Deprived of a social life since the birth of their children, mums and dads are grasping at the chance of a few hours of cheesy fun. The Baby Loves Disco franchise is holding dances in London and Manchester, with plans to expand into Glasgow, Edinburgh, Brighton and several other European cities.

Naomi Timperley and daughters
Some people actually borrow kids to come here with
Naomi Timperley
UK founder Baby Loves Disco

While most discos operate a lower-age limit, this does the opposite. If the kids are older than seven, they ain’t comin’ in.

BLD’s UK founder Naomi Timperley, a 36-year-old mother-of-two, runs the monthly event at the Clapham Grand in south London, which is booked up until June.

“I came across the idea while I was on the internet this time last year,” she says. “I thought it was fantastic and I e-mailed the US founders and told them it would be a great thing to do here.

“It’s about a generation of people who have kids but still want to go out. Some are really desperate to get out of the house. The youngest kid we’ve had here was five days old.”

Rather than being somewhere to dump the children for a few hours, she says, “it’s actually about going and doing stuff with your kids. It’s not just parents either. You get some grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends. Some people actually borrow kids to come here with.”

“With fears about rising childhood obesity dancing could help people stay fit”, says Naomi. “I want to get Britain dancing.”

Sensible jumpers

Ambitious words, but some things never change. In the bar, a row of dads stand looking over the dancefloor, each nursing a pint of lager in one hand and a baby in the other.

Door staff and guests

Under-sevens are less trouble than the night-time crowd [Picture: Georgina Shellard]

Sporting sensible jumpers, they quietly reminisce about the days when they could do this without the constant worry of whether a nappy needs changing. Meanwhile the mums, dressed in tight-fitting glittery T-shirts and hotpants, dance manically around their changing bags, teaching their offspring some moves.

The kids shake rattles and tambourines to the appropriately chosen We Are Family by Sister Sledge. Some of the older ones have their faces painted and others help themselves to organic snacks: apples, bananas, organic biscuits and the like.

As it nears 3.30 many parents begin to tire. For them there’s a chill-out zone behind the DJ’s booth. But relaxation is tempered by the sight of toddlers running across its padded floors as a hard-working bouncer, used to more menacing trouble-makers, labours to keep them off a metal staircase.

‘Going out’

Tamara, from north London, is playing with her seven-month-old daughter.

“I think it’s great. When you’re not dancing, you can sit around, chat and have a good time,” she says. “We weren’t ravers even before we had a kid, but we can’t go out for a meal or a drink very often as both sets of parents live in Canada and it costs a fortune to get babysitters.

“It’s not so much that I miss going out as just a couple, but we miss being able to go out full stop. It makes my partner dance too.”

Then, just as it feels the afternoon is winding down, the DJ plays a blinder – the “floor-filler” that is Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Silly. Tacky. But I’m one of the many parents who can’t resist the charms of this 80s classic (albeit at a relatively muted 80 decibels, to save the little ‘uns’ hearing).

Bootylicious

It’s followed by Abba’s 1970s classic Dancing Queen. Then we get down (as far as possible when carrying a 16lb infant, without causing a hernia) to 1986’s Word Up by Cameo. And just is case you thought this was a nostalgia fest, next comes Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious. The mums go mad again.

Most of the 350-strong crowd are having a whale of a time, even the ones whose nappies are being changed on the specially provided benches. But babies aren’t blessed with the staying power of grown-up ravers and by 4.30pm my daughter’s lower lip is starting to wobble. Time to leave.

As we descend into a cold winter afternoon, it is still light. Now, where would they sell kebabs at this time of day?

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