The ceiling lights are off and the multi-coloured dance lights are swirling around the crowded room instead. Kylie’s ‘Locomotion’ is blaring out of the huge sound system and smoke from the dry ice machine is billowing dramatically in the air.
The guys linger on the outside of the hall nursing their drinks, nervously chatting to each other and trying not to pay attention to the girls. The girls are dancing in groups, giggling and sneaking glances at them.
The drinks the boys are holding have wonky right-angled straws. In their excitement, some boys have squeezed these fruit-boxes too hard and the floor is now lacquered in orange juice. At the bar, several dozen packets of chips are on sale and have attracted an eager crowd of buyers. The girls who are busy dancing have donned their glow-in-the-dark bracelets, waving them in time to the songs. It’s a late night – five o’clock – and the party is just starting.
We parents recognise the scene, having attended many such events ourselves. Tonight though, it’s our six year old children who are the patrons of their primary school reception-to-year-three disco. A full hour of ‘mayhem to music’ from 5pm to 6pm. They are all out of uniform, whilst we oldies remain in our work clothes or jeans. We sit quietly in the chairs furthest away from the DJ, feeling very much like daggy wallflowers, yet most of us can not resist the urge to smile at the entertaining scene.
‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani comes on, and all of a sudden the dance floor is packed. This is a song they all know, unlike that old one that they could see their mums singing along to. Boys link arms with each other and some of the girls do rather good versions of gyrating and shoulder wiggling. A third group becomes mesmerised by the video screen, and a fourth decide to make light sabres out of their glow sticks and hold sword fights instead.
Fashion is out in force tonight and everyone looks fabulous. Long boots are the clear winner in the ladies’ footwear stakes, as are denim skirts and fur-trimmed vests. The boys mirror the girls by choosing vests and denims but have forsaken boots for their newest sneakers. Hair gel is everywhere, making it a risky proposition for a passing grown-up to ruffle any child’s’ hair without spiking their hands.
The heat in the room is now stifling and the juice is flowing freely. The dancers start to tire and head back to the bar for sustenance or to their parents for a lap to sit and recuperate on. The DJ senses this and opts for a classic: ‘YMCA’ by the Village People. The dance floor is packed again; this time by the parents, dragging their offspring with them. One boy is overheard asking his Dad: “How come you know the words to this song? What are you doing with your arms?” It doesn’t end there – ‘Nutbush City Limits’ is played next and the teachers enter the sweaty fray. It’s elbow room only at the hottest place to be at 5pm in the suburbs.
My daughter is having a wonderful time and has only come over once to ask for some money to buy a packet of chips. She has danced to every song and has bucked the vest-denim/boots trend in favour of her purple Angelina Ballerina tutu ensemble. This look has impressed young Jacob, who bravely ventures over to yell in her ear: “That’s a pretty dress. Do you want to have a dance with me?” Hell, if she didn’t I would have, but she did. They held each other’s hands and shuffled uncertainly to a rather inappropriate dance version of ‘Sexual Healing.’ It raised a few eyebrows amongst those older than eight as we all mentally crossed our fingers that none of them could understand any of the lyrics or decide to ask us any awkward questions afterward.
The two young dancers didn’t last out the entire song, however. He wandered off to get a closer look at the smoke machine and she came over to ask me if she could buy anything else. “No, it’s nearly tea time”, was the response.
The disco finished off with Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’; obviously a modern classic for these young funksters. The light sabre fighters were still fighting, albeit to the beat of the song, the video-heads were enthralled with the video clip and the bar was finally closing.
All too soon, the smoke dissipated, the sound was turned way down and the overheard fluoro lights were turned on. I clutched my lovely girl’s sweaty little hand and gazed down at her flushed, happy face. Would you like to come here again next time? “Oh yes”, she immediately replied. “But don’t drop me off, I want you to be here the whole time.”
Of course – just try and stop me. I just hope that next time my eyes won’t fill with tears so that it’s noticeable to any of the kids.