The idea behind "Baby Loves Disco" is compelling: convert an otherwise vacant dance club into a destination for families to boogie the afternoon away. The concept is solid, but the details are not. For $10 per ticket, clubbers receive some snacks, a dance floor and a DJ. Any entertainment beyond that is up to parents to provide.
My 5-year-old triplets, husband and I arrived early at Park West on a Sunday afternoon in April. The age recommendation is 8 and under, but a quick glance at the crowd proved 3 and under to be the majority demographic. The crowd grew larger by the minute, since the doors opened 15 minutes late.
As we herded ourselves into the dark club, the "Disco Goddess" was attaching what I thought were security wristbands to children. Instead, they were glow sticks bracelets. She ran out as soon it was our turn. "They needed, like, one million more of those," said my son, Will.
Inside, the giant disco ball cast a glittery glow. A cocktail waitress (who also served booze), brought lemonades for the kids for $9, plus tip. We later learned that juice boxes were complimentary.
Set atop card tables that blocked foot traffic were their wholesome snacks, including fruit and open bowls of organic crunchies. My kids gorged on Oreos instead.
The kids were ready to rock out, so we elbowed our way to the dance floor. The youngest set raced around with mini-maracas while older kids tried Hula Hoops. The DJ did not speak to the crowd, but instead played extended-length club music which didn’t translate to toddlers.
Finally, the familiar "We Are Family" had the crowd clapping. I later asked Disco Goddess: "Can we expect any instructor-led activities? Any line dancing? Maybe a Hula Hoop contest?" She complimented me on my suggestions, but nothing of the sort was planned.
"Baby Loves Disco" failed to engage our kids. The novelty of being on a disco floor wore off quickly, and they were ready to leave after an hour. We headed straight to Lincoln Park Zoo, where the kids were entranced by the leopard.
"He’s cool," said my daughter Susannah.
Yeah, baby. He’s the real cool cat.
The next "Baby Loves Disco" events are set for 1 p.m. May 14 and June 11 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, (773) 929-1322, www.parkwestchicago.com, and at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse Complex, 205 N. Broadway, Aurora, (630) 264-2739, www.americasbrewpub.com. Admission is $10.
Jill S. Browning