Put On Your Disco Diapers

The scene is tres ’70s when the popular Cielo nightclub in Manhattan is converted into Studio 54 for the afternoon – along with a stroller valet and an entourage of soccer moms carrying tykes dressed like Deney Terrio.

It’s Baby Loves Disco, and the fever is spreading across the country since its first club date in Philadelphia, organizer and Ropeadope Records owner Andy Hurwitz told Pollstar.

In addition to Cielo, Baby Loves Disco has a monthly home at Brooklyn’s Warsaw, Chicago’s Park West, Colorado’s Boulder Theatre, and Denver’s Gothic Theatre, as well as venues in Philadelphia, San Diego, Boston, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Aurora, Ill.

It’s soon to open at the Larchmont in Los Angeles and Ruby Skye in San Francisco, and plans are for more venues in Seattle, Scottsdale and south Florida.

For three hours once a month, usually on a Saturday afternoon, parents and their toddlers get to relive the glory days of disco in a club environment, with healthy snacks and juice boxes provided by local vendors such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats. For mom and dad, the bar is open.

And for club owners, it’s an opportunity to sell anywhere from 300 to 700 tickets, usually at $10 for “those who walk in,” during normally dark hours. There’s no charge for the crawler set, and family packages can go for $30 for a family of six.

The concept has been particularly successful in New York, where Baby Loves Disco is “the hardest ticket in town,” Hurwitz said. “The June show in Manhattan is the last one of the season there, but it’s been sold out since February.”

Parents love it because it gives them a chance to get out to a club they perhaps haven’t been to in years, socialize with other parents, and listen to something besides Barney and The Wiggles.

The kids love it because, as Hurwitz explained, they “can have fun doing absolutely anything. You put them in a club with no music, no accouterments, no decorations and just a bubble machine, and they’re going to have a great time just being with other kids. It really is for parents.”

And Hurwitz and company involve parents in the event in each city, hiring three at each venue to “host” Baby Loves Disco, freeing up club staffers who are more used to dealing with the college set.

Baby Loves Disco essentially acts as the curator for each show. “We decorate the venues, we have chillout rooms with books and puzzles and tents. We bring in these industrial strength bubble machines. In some cases we bring disco balls,” Hurwitz said. “On the business side of it, usually the club keeps the bar and a portion of the door. We get a portion of the door and merchandise.

“Safety obviously is always the number one concern. Even at venues like Colorado’s Boulder Theatre, with its 1,100 capacity, we only sell 700 tickets. We need that extra buffer because of the fact that people are dancing and you just don’t want it to be too crowded,” Hurwitz said.

“Once you hit the 600 mark, it starts to get a little bit crazy. There’s a hum and a buzz. You can’t really go much higher than that.”

Despite the sizeable crowds, there’s little or no cost for promotion or advertising.

“Our promotions and marketing is basically a street team of mommies. We work with businesses in the local areas and mommy groups. You have to be sensitive to the parents,” he explained.

“We have to childproof the whole club. We have to go through and make sure all the sockets are taped up, install changing stations – which is not rocket science, but you have to think about all of it when you’re talking little kids. You can’t have 500 people show up with 500 strollers. We actually enlisted the support of a sponsor to help with a stroller parking garage outside, which has a cover and a more formal system of dealing with strollers. It’s a stroller valet.”

– Deborah Speer