Update: Monski Mouse Baby Disco Dance Hall is back! From 11 May to 7 September 2014
If I ever move away from London, I’ll list the South Bank as one of my ‘must-do’ places when I come back for a visit. Someone once described it to me as ‘bread and circus for the masses’: a designated area for arts and entertainment (plus a bit of skateboarding), with stunning views down the Thames, to distract people from the grind of their everyday lives.
Well, if that’s true (and, if I’m being ultra-cynical, I suppose it probably is), then bring on the sourdough and chequered clowns.
|Welcome to the circus|
Last week, the Daddy D and I spent a blissful date night, just wandering along, watching people reading by the riverside, taking in the twinkly blue tree lights, and ducking into the allotments that form part of the South Bank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood. It was probably one of the best evenings out we’ve had since becoming parents: relaxed, leisurely, and very, very London. No pressure to make scintillating conversation over a date-night meal, when you’re so sleep-deprived that all you can manage is a few grunts over the tomato salad.
|Waiting outside the spiegeltent|
Today, I was back by the river, only this time with Gwen. The South Bank Centre offered me free tickets to Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall, so we ditched the paddling pool and ice-pops in favour of an air-conditioned tent and a sparkly Australian DJ.
Gwen is the dancer in our family. Ever since she’s been able to move independently, she’s wiggled and swayed in time to any music within earshot. I can’t help thinking her musicality comes from when she was tiny, and the telly was Austin’s playmate through long hours of cluster feeding. I was worried we might end up a family of square-eyed couch-potatoes, so every time a theme tune came on, I’d leap out of my seat and dance around with Gwen in my arms, poking Austin until he did the same. It wasn’t exactly a run in the park. But at least Austin can now bust some groovy moves to the theme tune of Babar and the Adventures of Badou. And Gwen seems to have grown up with music* in her soul.
Monski Mouse’s disco was perfect for our little tot. I’d been expecting a few more of the playgroup staples, but thankfully, the only tunes of that ilk were ‘Sleeping Bunnies’, and some track about dinosaurs, that I’m assuming is big only in Australia, because I’d never heard it before. No, instead we were treated to quirky grown-up classics like Nena’s 99 luftballons. Perfectly danceable fodder for the youngsters, and well-designed to get bashful parents onto their feet. Mind you, crawling around on all fours to The Cure’s Lovecats isn’t quite so much fun when your child bounces off and leaves you alone on the dance floor.
Monski was flanked by two dancers who specialise in children’s performance. Between their infectious gyrations, and the thoughtfully presented set (pretty disco lights, and not too spookily dark for the young ones), it was practically impossible not to join in and enjoy the disco antics. Even on a baking hot July day.
Monski Mouse’s sets run for the next few weeks, and I think they’re almost sold out. If you’re looking for a Sunday boogie by the river for all ages, I’d recommend her mix.
Disclosure: I was given free tickets to Monski Mouse’s disco by the South Bank Centre. But all views are my own.
*OK, CBeebies theme tunes might not count as soul music in your world. But in our house, the CBeebies gang’s seasonal songs trump Beethoven any day.