Kids club is now way more than just somewhere you drop your children during the school holidays.
Last Sunday, Big Fish Little Fish (or BFLF to those in the know) invited the Hey fam along to their Jingle Bell Rave, downstairs at The Mangle http://wringerandmangle.com/mangle/, in East London’s, newly gentrified, London Fields. To those of you not yet in the know, BFLF run Award-winning (Best Family Event 2014 and 2015 National Family Arts Festival) and critically acclaimed family raves for families with children aged 0-8 and are expanding across the country. Being described by The Guardian as “London’s latest clubbing craze” was not good enough for Hannah and Natasha, the founding mothers of BFLF, and they took their events on the road. As a result, in just two years, these mamas have transitioned BFLF from a monthly party in Brixton to a major player on the family arts scene across the country, with events in Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and Cardiff. This year, the duo have brought it back home with a bang, hosting special (and, unfortunately, now sold out) events at The National Gallery and Selfridges.
Anywhoo, back to Sunday. We walked into the rave and all I could see was lights, kids, candy canes, face painting and glitter balls. Kid 1, the previously too-cool-for-school 8 year old who had been moaning about not wanting to come to the rave all morning, suddenly became very polite and incredibly enthused about the whole event. “Mummy, can I have a candy cane please?” Her sister was right there next to her. Still sucking their candy canes, they then ran to the crafts table and began making Christmas decorations and party hats, while the coloured lights (and the parents who were reliving their youth) danced around them. It was impossible not to smile. It was also impossible not to head-bob or toe-tap. I kept it fairly tame. After all, we had just arrived…
On the BLFL website, we are told what we can expect at a BFLF Family Rave:
Big name DJs:
We were lucky enough to have Andy Turner of Plaid fame spinning the decks and he did not disappoint. Brothers in Rhythm’s “Such a Good Feeling”! The Prodigy’s “Everybody in the Place”! The Ganga Kru’s “Super Sharp Shooter”! Liquid’s “Sweet Harmony”!? Come one!! The tune’s just kept coming. At one point, Kid 1 chastised me, “mummy, stop dancing like that!”
Bubble Machines, club visuals, glitter cannons and parachute dance:
Erm, tick! There was also a massive balloon doing the rounds at one point, until an overly eager adult pushed it with a little too much enthusiasm, and it popped on one of the glitter balls. Kid 1+1 was fuming and gave intense side eyes to the offender.
Fancy dress themes:
‘Jingle Bells’ kind of speaks for itself, right?
Craft area with themed crafts and giant colouring mural:
All the yeses! And it was all free! My kids were in their element, produing Christmas themed “graffiti” on the mural wall. I held myself back when Kid 1 started colouring Santa’s hat green… *breathe and let it go*
Home Made Cake Stall:
Allergies and intolerances catered for, there was an array of delicious cakes and sweets for sale. Remember to bring some cash or your children will disgrace you!!
For a small fee, a child (or adult) could be transformed into a beautiful, glittery butterfly, or any other magical animal, plant or thing. My kids couldn’t be bothered to queue, so opted out.
Play area with tents, tunnels , inflatables and a play-doh table:
These were (I think, strategically) placed in front of the licensed bar (yes, you read right), so parents could dump carefully place their babies or toddlers into a tunnel or tent to keep them occupied while ordering and sipping their beverages. Perfect! My slightly older kids also love a good tent, so they were made up to be left in one while we *ahem* quenched our thirst at the bar.
Villa Pia baby chillout with soft mats, beanbags and ball-pool:
Another, amazing chill-out space for parents. Lots of balls and soft stuff for the little ones to safely hang around in, while the big ones chatted and sipped their drinks (there may be a theme developing here…)
Free glowsticks and transfer tattoos:
Freeness is always a winner, imho. When combined with transfer tattoos? Well…*drops mic*
The event was fully stewarded and there were friendly faces in high-vis jackets walking around throughout.
I’d definitely say that 8 or 9 is the upper age limit at which your kids will enjoy the experience. It is targeted towards the younger children and BFLF are open about that. From what I could see, the really little ones were having a blast, even though I did find myself almost booting a couple of them who, without looking down, I had thought were balloons bobbing around my feet. In my defence, they were teeny and clearly early walkers. But, if you were a raver during the 90s (and maybe the early noughties) you will love having the chance to dance down memory lane.
If you are in London, BFLF are playing at Parson’s Green “Winter On The Green” on the 17th Decmeber (2pm-4pm) Don’t miss out! Buy tickets here
If you can’t make it to that event, there are plenty happening up and down the country over the coming months.
They have also just been announced as being in the first wave of acts for Camp Bestival 2017!
PS. All photos courtesy of The Photographer. Why don’t you go check out some of his other work on Instagram ?(He’s @eddstargram)