I have faint memories of being taken to a children’s dance and movement class when I was about two. My overriding recollection is of a strong smell of indeterminate soup- the venue was the local church hall- and of a playlist which consisted of “Row, row, row your boat” and “Wind the bobbin up” played at a funereal pace and deafening volume.
How times have changed. Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall represents the new face of parent and child dance events complete with tunes you can actually dance to and some join-in gestures more exciting than winding up obsolete pieces of mill machinery. Monski Mouse herself – dressed in a perfect 1950s polka dot dress and with two buns on her head like mouse ears- is the DJ, spinning a mixture of adult dance favourites and up-tempo children’s songs. Parents still feeling a little delicate at that time on a weekend morning need have no fear that they will be forced into frenetic dancing; equally if your little one is seized with the urge to really shake his or her stuff then that’s welcome too.
Things have advanced from the draughty church hall too. This baby disco is held in Assembly’s Elegance, a glittery circus type tent which captivated many of the children. There’s just the right sort of space for dancing but with mirrored booths around the outside for those wanting to sit the dance out. Thought had been given to the youngest non-dancers, with a cushion area for those who preferred to enjoy the music while lying on their backs. One couldn’t have asked for a better venue.
Given the short length of the disco- only forty minutes- it’s a pity that there weren’t more opportunities for children to interact with Mouse and her two dancing helpers, Casey and Laurie. For most of the dances Mouse gave some suggestions for actions but her helpers who mingled with the dancers were curiously quiet and passive. At times the atmosphere fell a little flat, as parents and children waited for encouragement that they were doing the right sort of thing. Songs such as “Locomotion” where a definite action was suggested were noticeably more upbeat and tempted even the most shattered parents to join in.
The atmosphere lit up at the end when Mouse set down her DJ’s headphones and joined the children on the dance floor. She has a winning smile and a look as close to a human Minnie Mouse as is possible without Disney’s lawyers hunting her down; it’s no surprise that she was a hit with the children. This quirky event was clearly a hit with parents too, who were reveling in a hip and modern experience with not a boat or bobbin to be heard.