Disco meets diapers

January 31, 2008|By Brad Schleicher | Brad Schleicher,Sun reporter

You'll find them in the club.

No, not single 20-somethings imbibing alcohol while grinding to 50 Cent past the stroke of midnight.

Instead, you'll find children younger than 7 sipping on organic juice boxes, munching on carrot sticks and bouncing to the disco hit "Funkytown" in the middle of the afternoon.

The parents? They'll enjoy a casual beer or a glass of wine before hitting the dance floor.

This is what you'll find at Baby Loves Disco - a departure from routine playground visits and large crowds at child-oriented, arena stage shows.

Baby Loves Disco, which comes to Washington this weekend and Baltimore next week, has managed to give adults a club-going opportunity without sticking the kids with a babysitter or having them out past their bedtime.

"It was definitely an accidental business," says Baby Loves Disco founder and mother of two, Heather Murphy Monteith. "I thought to myself that there has to be something with more resonance. I had friends that were DJs and I thought, `Why not take it to a real venue?'"

These daytime disco parties started taking nightclubs by storm in 2004 when Monteith, a former dancer, took a chance on renting out Philadelphia's Fluid nightclub after her crowd of friends and their children grew too large for her living room.

Baby Loves Disco events now occur regularly in 28 cities, including London and Manchester in the U.K. According to Monteith, five more cities will launch dance parties in the coming months.

"It was truly a grass-roots movement," she says. "I had my own personal contacts and checklists. Many times it spread through those I knew or their friends and family."

Monteith, 35, works with host mothers in different cities to find a venue that's willing to open its doors on a Saturday afternoon.

But the club selection process isn't as involved one might expect. According to Monteith, clubs are fairly accommodating.

However, depending on a club's structural layout, certain precautions - such as childproofing bar entrances and having the club professionally cleaned - are taken to ensure the safety of the little ones.

Monteith says that parents can take solace in the fact that they won't be hearing kid-specific songs or anything vulgar. The playlists are compiled by professional DJs and usually focus on disco and '80s dance music.

"We're not hiring Dan the party man," says Monteith. "It can play as long as it's clean, the lines are simple and has a solid rhythm. That's what I like about disco."

Although some may argue that these dance parties might be creating the next generation of clubgoers, Monteith thinks otherwise. She says that she questioned the notion originally, but doesn't feel that such an event has a negative impact on the children. All she really intended to do was allow children and adults the opportunity to enjoy music in a fun and safe way.

"I don't want to throw brands down their throats," she says. "Besides, most of the kids don't realize that they're in a big-person place."

Monteith says that these dance parties have been positive for the communities that host them. The parties bring with them an aura of acceptance, allowing parents and children in all walks of life to forge relationships with one another.

"Alternative families, such as two-mom or two-dad families, have shown a lot of interest and really come together," she says. "The event has been great for building a sense of community and family, especially these days when family is not always defined by bloodlines."

brad.schleicher@baltsun.com

Baby Loves Disco will take place 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, March 15 and April 5 at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St., Washington, and 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 9 and March 30 at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Baltimore. Admission is $12. Non-walkers are free. Ticket availability may be limited. Go to babylovesdisco.com.

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