We’re at the door. We can hear the thumping music inside. Our hands are stamped before we can head downstairs to where the action is. A burly man steps up to us and er … offers to help us with our buggy?
Yeah that’s me. Clubbing on a Saturday. In the afternoon. With the family.
You see, that’s the new thing now Roy. Family Raves. Well, there’s been baby discos for ages but ‘family rave’ sounds much better. More illicit. More Manchesterish. Takes me back to my youth. Actually it doesn’t. I never went to anything called a rave until I had two small children. It’s true what they say. They really do expand your horizons.
We go down the dark stairs of the Wigwam club in Middle Abbey Street in Dublin. (I live in Dublin. I didn’t steal money from a parent’s purse, get the Aircoach up and sleep in a friend’s grimy ‘studio’ in Ballybough. But I felt as cool as if I did.)
In a break from tradition, we spent a bit of money on the children this time. The entrance fee was 12 euro for an adult. TWELVE EURO. I haven’t paid that much to get into a club since 2002.
It’s odd going into a nightclub in the middle of the day. It smells a bit of the night before. I feel like I’m about to ask Lost and Found if anyone handed in a jacket last night with a scarf down the sleeve.
The place is full. The parents’ age group suggests it’s been a while since they were in here. Nightclubbing for us evolved a long time ago into “ah we’ll just stay here where we have seats” and “we’ll probably have friends over”. Dance-starved parents, parents who are SICK of the nightmarish repetition of Baby Shark, who just don’t believe in the lyrics of Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood and just want a bit of proper music. That Fatboy Slim one with the fella dancing outside the cinema, Pump Up the Jam — a jam that doesn’t get on your clothes and the wallpaper.
The children are energised by it as well and dancing like mentalists. As long as they’re not queuing for the face painting. The queue for the face-painting is no longer than a queue at the bar in the good old days of night-clubs. The queue at the bar is very short. We have a pint between us. (Me and my wife, not the children. It’s a waste of time giving them drink as they can’t hold it.)
We get into the music. It feels weirdly comfortable to make a langer out of yourself to Dee Lite’s Groove is in the Heart knowing that everyone else is tired, sensibly dressed, and completely past caring what anyone thinks of them at this stage. Would that all nightclubs were like this.
Having said that, there are many similarities with a normal nightclub experience. There’s a strong chance someone will be crying before the lights come on. The make-up won’t be running but the face-paint might.
There’s clear evidence of smuggling in drinks. Once past the bouncers, parents are seen taking ‘sippy-cups from nappy-bags’ (to use the street lingo). Some mothers of younger children are going to extremes, smuggling high-calorie energy drinks inside in their own boobs.
A lot of these kids are on tablets. Mainly Ds and a few other vitamins. I thought I interrupted a deal at one point. I pushed open the door to the buggy room and a group of parents seemed surprised. One of them was saying “I have half a bag of it if you want” but it turned out it was just outgrown toddler clothes.
The time flies. We look at our watches. It’s getting late. We emerge blinking into the dusk. And because it’s the afternoon there’s much less chance of getting into a fight and getting glassed. Although it is the centre of Dublin so you wouldn’t rule it out completely.
We look at Our Two, still buzzing in their buggy. ‘They’ll sleep tonight’, we say. That classic clubbing line.