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It’s not often that I get invited to a bash at a hip dance club.
With four kids at home and my 40th birthday looming, I hadn’t partied like it’s 1999 since, well, 1999.
So I was understandably giddy when I got the invitation by email. But there was a catch: I had to bring my kids.
No matter. I loaded my 2-, 5- and 7-year-old daughters into the car and made a beeline to Purgatory, a tri-level club near Dallas’ Deep Ellum, which was hosting the area premiere of Baby Loves Disco.
A Saturday afternoon dance party for children 6 months to 7 years of age, Baby Loves Disco is like a birthday party on steroids: There are hundreds of people milling about; a real DJ spinning ’70s and ’80s tunes; egg shakers, scarves and hula hoops to get the kiddos moving; and bubbles, balloons, books, toys, tents and TVs tuned to Nickelodeon.
If you’re too pooped to party, the chill-out zone has comfy couches, pillows and quiet games.
There are healthful snacks to munch on, including fresh fruit, cereal bars, hummus, organic raisins and juice. (The cash bar is open for non-driving adults.)
Vendors are also on site offering a variety of free services, from face painting to crafts to massages for kids and grown-ups.
And, yes, there are diaper-changing stations and places to park your stroller.
Baby Loves Disco began in 2004 “accidentally,” says founder Heather Murphy Monteith, a professional modern dancer who was looking for a different way to entertain her then-toddler son, Max.
“I threatened my mommies group that I was going to [throw] a big dance party in my living room,” Monteith says by phone from her Philadelphia home.
“I did a little one and realized my living room wasn’t big enough for nine adults and nine kids.”
So she approached a club owner about her plan. Once Monteith got the go-ahead, Baby Loves Disco was off and running – although she initially planned to do just one party.
“I was hoping that 40 to 45 people would show up,” Monteith says. “It sold out at almost 200.”
Pretty soon, Baby Loves Disco was a monthly event in Philadelphia.
It eventually caught the attention of Brooklyn music producer Andy Blackman Hurwitz, a father of two boys. They became partners, launched Baby Loves Disco in New York City in late 2005, and since then the concept has spread to more than 30 locations worldwide, from San Francisco to Tokyo to Tel Aviv.
Purgatory Dallas was child-friendly on a recent Saturday afternoon.
When a new outpost opens, either Monteith or Hurwitz attends, but for the most part, local parents run the show.
And throwing parties is right up Kris Eschman’s alley. An event planner by day, Eschman was host mom for the Dallas launch, which drew more than 300 guests, including Dallas mom Lori Gutierrez and her children, 3-year-old Larson and 1-year-old Chloe.
“I love music and disco, so we decided to check it out,” Gutierrez says.
“We got tired of [going to] Chuck E. Cheese.”
One thing’s for sure: You won’t hear the Bee Gees at a pizza playcenter.
Or this shout-out from a DJ: “Saturday afternoon is the new Saturday night.”