For any parent tired of trudging to the park, mall and playground for the umpteenth time, organizers of Baby Loves Disco say to try this:
As in dance, not as in the sticky stuff that moms constantly wipe from noses.
A childproof dance party for parents and kids ages 6 months to 7 years, Baby Loves Disco started in 2004 at a Philadelphia nightclub and has grown to 26 cities nationwide, plus a bunch of international ones. It debuts in Tampa on Sunday at the Blue Martini Lounge, with repeat events in March and April.
At Baby Loves Disco, DJs spin tunes from the '70s and '80s as bubble machines spit out suds and disco balls sparkle overhead. Kids sip on juice boxes at the stocked snack bar. Moms and dads sip on stronger stuff for sale at the bar.
Heather Murphy Monteith created the parties after having her first child, Max, who is now 6. After doing all the mommy club stuff and visiting every zoo and museum, she thought there must be something the whole family could enjoy.
"I understood why moms feel so worn out,'' she said. "You come out broke and tired and you wonder why you thought it was a good idea.''
Monteith, who also has a 2 1/2 year-old daughter, Isadora, designed the parties around what she likes to do at home: dance to old music with her kids and drink a glass of wine. A modern dancer, she doesn't have a TV.
She and her business partner, Andy Blackman Hurwitz, a father of three, run Baby Loves Disco from their Philadelphia homes. She works out of her laundry room; he works out of the nursery. It's a grassroots operation that's grown through word of mouth.
Baby Loves Disco works with host moms in every city to organize the parties and spread the word. In Tampa, it's Marisa Langford, founder of Sitter Soirees (sittersoirees.com), a service that links parents and babysitters, and Moms Rock Tampa (momsrocktampa.com), which honors mothers.
A mother of two with one on the way, Langford wanted to give parents a new experience with a big-city feel. No vendors will hawk baby gear or solicit e-mail addresses. Barney won't show up, and adults won't have to eat cardboard pizza.
"It's geared toward that family who wants a balance between adult fun and kid fun,'' she said. "It's not the mommy and me atmosphere. Dads are going to have a blast.''
Tickets are $15 in advance for every walking human. (Crawlers are free.) Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $18.
While dancing is the draw, kids who don't like to — or refuse to — can hang out in the "chill-out'' area with pillows, stuffed animals, toys and (gasp!) books. Local businesses offer massages, face painting, a dress-up corner and glam makeovers for moms and daughters.
But the main action happens on the dance floor where young and old boogie down amid bright lights and thumping music, toned down for sensitive ears. Hula hoops, musical instruments and colorful scarves spur the imagination.
After the three hours, tots are happy and tired and ready for something that's music to most parents' ears: a long nap.
Susan Thurston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.