My first Fringe as a father has seen me burning the candle at both ends. Not about to forsake all the late nights the Fringe has to offer, but aware a screamin’ bairn is going to be my alarm call at an un-Fringe-friendly hour. It’s been doable, just. In fact, having a baby has been a tonic in the midst of August craziness. But aside from the obvious joys of fatherhood, there’s another bonus to baby Bonnie when it comes to the Fringe. It means I get to legitimately join in with kids’ shows without creeping people out, and the first of many years of this starts right here on a Friday morning with Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dancehall…
Monski Mouse has been a fixture here for a few Fringes now, her distinctive hair buns and smiley face a familiar sight on posters. But until you have reason to engage with children’s shows, it’s easy to filter them out. I’d never had much cause to wonder what a Fringe baby disco would be like before now. I had a vague notion it would be like being trapped in a kids’ party from hell with the precocious offspring of the arty set – “Mommy, this is boring. Can we go see some Pinter?” – but it’s a varied group of what seems like mainly locals. I’m here with my fiancee Jo, but there’s loads of solo mums, solo dads, grandparents, and a pair of childminders who seem to have six between them. Everyone’s at home.
Today’s slightly different. A power cut in the Palais du Variete has forced us indoors into the Assembly Club Bar. Unfortunate, but apart from slightly less clear sightlines to see Monski and her dancers doing the actions, it doesn’t seem to have spoiled anything.
Monski’s tunes alternate nicely between kids’ songs and grown-up songs that kids would appreciate. So we get one about roaring like a dinosaur (forgive me if this is something well-known, folks, I’m not up to speed with the kids’ canon as yet) followed by Rock Around The Clock; some sort of sleeping lions song, followed by Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. Spot a theme yet? Roar… rock… sleep… shake. Each has an action for kids and parents to act out, and Monski’s two dancers are on hand to demonstrate.
There’s more method to this Monski madness too. The show is billed as suitable for ages 0-5, so the actions are graded accordingly. The Lion Sleeps Tonight is an opportunity for the crawlers in our midst to do their thing. Other songs allow toddlers to toddle and so on. It’s nicely judged and a look round the room suggests no-one is being left out for long.
Inevitably, every experience is going to be child-specific. Bonnie, at 11 months, is often more interested in looking at herself in the mirrors of the club bar, or saying hello to other kids, but as we bounce her up and down in time to the music, she looks thoroughly happy, and there’s no tears, or screams, seemingly anywhere in the room.
So, I survived my first baby disco. In fact, I’d come back again. It’s a bright, fun start to the Fringe day and in my case, gives me precious time with my impossibly understanding and supportive Fringe widow and orphan. Thank you Jo and Bonnie for letting the Fringe borrow me for the month.