OAKLAND — The dance floor is packed, the disco lights are flashing and the DJ is spinning R&B and pop beats.
But this is no sweaty, late-night club. It’s 10 a.m. on a Sunday; the only drinks are in sippy cups, and the energetic dancers have to leave before nap time.
This is Baby Rave, a monthly high-octane dance party for under 4-year-olds in Oakland, California.
“The idea of Baby Rave is an opportunity for parents to just have fun with their toddlers,” says organizer Nina Meehan, executive director of Bay Area Children’s Theater, where the rave is held.
Meehan came up with the idea in 2016, after seeing a similar dance party for tots during a trip to Atlanta. She roped in her friend, DJ E.T. Hazzard and started running the baby bash.
What sets Baby Rave apart from other toddler activities is that it doesn’t try to offer an educationally enriching experience.
“We just want you guys to have fun on a Sunday morning. And that’s it,” Hazzard said.
Hazzard, whose 20-month-old daughter Daphne is among the tiny clubgoers, describes the music selection as “non-stop dance party.” But you won’t find any children’s songs, like the global phenomenon “Baby Shark,” anywhere on his playlist. The music, he says, is geared towards the parents.
“Being a new parent myself, it’s like, we don’t get to go out and dance that much any more,” he says. “We used to go out and party, and we can do it now on a Sunday morning. Why not?”
The mini ravers and their parents dress up in sparkly top hats and oversized neon sunglasses, and wave brightly colored ribbon wands as they get down to the steady stream of dance hits. When they get tired of dancing, there are toys and blocks to play with and a fenced-off relaxation area.
Salvador Ramos has been bringing his 2-year-old daughter Lucia to the rave since she was six months old.
“She loves it. We have a lot of fun,” he says. “Just bouncing around, getting out on the weekend, seeing other parents and just enjoying the vibe.”
Entry to Baby Rave is $7 for adults and children over the age of one. “Babies under 1 rave for free,” the organization’s website says.
The raves are currently sold out through April 2020. (Reporting by Jane Ross, Editing by Jill Serjeant and Cynthia Osterman)