Families who are looking for a festival where the kids don’t have to wear wellies or noise-cancelling headphones might find what they are looking for at this year’s Q Festival on Gateshead’s Quayside.
On Saturday morning, my one-year-old son, little C, H and I took the bus to Newcastle at 9am – bound for a coffee-fuelled baby rave – yes … you heard that right!
The event was hosted by North East family-focused organisation, Chalk as part of this year’s Q Festival in the Spiegeltent on Baltic Quay.
The one-hour dance extravaganza, recommended for children of any age, was a collaboration between Gateshead Council and Jesterval Comedy Festival.
The interactive baby rave experience certainly proved a big hit with families as it was completely sold out. Here are five reasons why we loved it and would recommend it.
1. Waiting area like no other
We arrived early, but didn’t worry as we sat on the Millennium Bridge for a short time basking in the sunshine. We were then able to hang out in the waiting area outside the Spiegeltent (Dutch for Mirror tent). There was certainly plenty of chalk to go around as young minds got creative in the beautifully-designed seating area. Little C just loved getting creative with his chalk on the baby-friendly Rubik’s Cube-style tables.
2. The event
The baby rave began right on time, so after parking up our buggy under the guidance of one of the very cheery organisers, we proceeded to the Spiegeltent. I’ve been wanting to get a glimpse inside the venue for weeks, but as a new mum over 40 who often doesn’t have access to childcare on a night-time, I hadn’t had the pleasure.
Once we were inside, little C and I were delighted with what we saw. The tent was beautiful. Constructed from wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass, it was a dark open space. There were colourful, flashing disco lights, a TV screen featuring 80s movies, and of course, a DJ, sensory projections and hula-hooping.
Watching a tent full of knee-high clubbers bouncing around was certainly more fun than having to do the ‘hokey cokey’ and listen to a load of nauseating nursery rhymes.
3. Child-friendly props
The Spiegeltent had been transformed into a baby-friendly sensory zone with all kinds of objects on the dance floor, as well as dressing up areas, space for arts and crafts and even a chill-out area too.
There were pieces of ribbon for the youngsters to swirl about and dance with, large bouncy balls to roll across the dance floor and a whole load of red and blue balloons and inflatables.
Little ones were encouraged to explore their surroundings, while mums and dads got in on the action by donning some good old-fashioned 80s gear…including foam shoulder-pads.
Little C was thrilled as he crawled and tottered about the dance-floor. He loved the patterns the lighting made on the floor, the bubble machine and even though he was a bit little for them…the hula hoops too.
4. The music
The tunes (all played at a baby-friendly level – of course) were mainly from the 80s. I felt completely at home with this as a new mum over 40. It was my era, with hits from The Cure, Nena, A-ha, Madonna, The Human League, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Clash to name but a few. It felt so good – so long ‘In The Night Garden’ – this is what having a baby is all about!
The atmosphere really made us feel like we were in a nightclub – but on a Saturday morning at 10.30am! It took me back in time listening to tunes that were popular when I was a young clubber myself all those years ago – and to see little C busting out some fine moves to Rock the Casbah just stole my heart. Based on the smiles, laughter and words of other parents in the room, it was clear that everyone was having a great time.
5. The atmosphere
The baby rave was a perfect way of not only spending some bonding time with little C, it also made me feel young again! I met some seriously cool parents that day too. I did start to wonder if someone had spiked the orange cordial as H started busting moves on the dancefloor bathed in bubbles however.
The staff went out of their way to make sure everything was baby-proofed (since there were a lot of cables). They interacted with everyone in a really friendly manner and made sure everyone was having fun. A final thought? We need more baby raves in Newcastle!T
For more photos and video, check out https://www.instagram.com/ofsaffronandcyrus/
Chalk events are targeted at families. All welcome as long as there are both adults and children in your party. The Breakfast Club Coffee Rave was staged as part of Q Festival; an exciting new collaboration between Gateshead Council and Jesterval Comedy Festival. The cost was adults, £7, and children £7 too. The Facebook page is @QFestivalGateshead
For video footage and more pictures of the event, head over to @ofsaffronandcyrus on Instagram.