Days Out – Big Fish, Little Fish at The Bedford, Balham

If, like me, you always vowed that having a baby wouldn’t change the things you did then you are probably eating your words by now.  Of course having a baby changes what you do or at least how you do it.  When he was a few weeks old Master ATWWAH attended his first festival on Clapham Common.  Admittedly it was the Ben and Jerry’s Festival so not exactly hedonistic but the chilled out time we’d had with my brother and toddler nephew the year before was in stark contrast to the stress we felt with Master ATWWAH.  Sleep deprived, naive, slightly green new parents, a hungry baby constantly wanting his bottle and a festival don’t really mix.

However, a whole industry is emerging of leisure activities that you can continue to do with your children tagging along too.  Think parent and baby art gallery and museum sessions, family friendly restaurants where even Michelin starred places welcome kids at certain times of the day, afternoon comedy clubs for parents and babies who are too young to understand expletives and now, thanks to Big Fish, Little Fish – afternoon raves complete with festival DJ’s, ‘proper’ music and licensed bars in venues you go to as an adult.

So, along with our friends and their two daughters we went off to The Bedford in Balham, a venue famous for its Banana Cabaret comedy nights.  On arrival any children in your party (and you have to have at least one child with you to get in!) received a glowstick bracelet and we climbed the stairs to the party, sorry, rave.  Organiser Hannah likes to use the word ‘rave’, not ‘disco’ or ‘party’ to describe the event and you can sort of see why once you are in there.  Firstly it was very strange to be going to a venue which you are used to visiting as an adult and normally with the aid of alcohol.  Every room looked familiar but not quite right when full of kids.  Usually you are pushing your way through the crowds to the bar and this time you were still pushing your way through but dodging little people.  Very surreal.

The craft area ran by Captain Cookie was the first port of call.  There was 1950’s music playing which Master ATWWAH really liked and later on in the afternoon had a good dance on his own in there.  There were free Happy Monkey smoothies for children and a paid bar for anyone wanting anything stronger as well as a really long table which did resemble a kids birthday party with craft activities, for this rave it was all about crown making.  If your kids are older you could definitely leave them to it here and have a drink yourself but as with most toddlers Master ATWWAH and glue are not a good mix so we stuck close by.

Ravers

Just like any Saturday night….
Photo credit – Steve Scott Gilbert

We then wandered into the baby/toddler area which Master ATWWAH was probably a bit big for but as it was quiet he had a play around with the tents and tunnels.  It was perfect for babies in there and definitely the quietest place in the venue, not something you hear often about ‘soft play’ areas.

baby room pic

Baby Chill Out
Photo credit – Steve Scott Gilbert

The main event though was the actual rave and it was here where the glowsticks came into their own as the room was dark and apart from it being full of kids and slightly self-conscious adults waving their arms in the air to the music you could have mistook it for a Saturday night in the Bedford.  The music occasionally took itself a bit too seriously and you could have been in any club back in the early 90’s.  But, as Big Fish, Little Fish promise it’s for the ‘post rave generation of parents’  Master ATWWAH has been exposed to BBC 6music from his early days so knows good music when he hears it but I think some of the tunes here were a bit beyond him.  The dance floor was always full though with lots of the older kids dancing along with their parents.  And, the confetti guns and bubble machines definitely helped to capture the imagination of the ravers, young and old.  Unfortunately we missed the parachute dance at the end as we were in the 50’s room again as Master ATWWAH kept on insisting we call it.

bubbles

You can never go wrong with bubbles……
Photo credit – Steve Scott Gilbert

The music levels were perhaps a bit too loud in the main room for very little ones although on their website Big Fish, Little Fish do say they try to accommodate for young ears.  The volume in the craft area of the 1950’s music was definitely more suited to Master ATWWAH although children of all ages were enjoying the main room.

The parties run out of the festival season so they attract festival and club DJ’s which explains why you’re not going to hear a nursery rhyme or kids song at one of the raves which can only be a good thing frankly.

I’m glad we went and I think Master ATWWAH will get into it more next time as it always takes him a little while to ‘warm up’ to things.  Raves are planned at the Balham venue for April and May and there are also raves in Brixton and Crouch End.  Check out Big Fish’s website for more details and tickets.

Mrs ATWWAH’s tips for attending a Big Fish, Little Fish rave

  • Have a dance at home before you leave and familiarise your little ones with the sort of tunes they’ll hear.  There are a selection of mixes on their site to listen to in advance
  • As with anything with toddlers be prepared they may not be into it as much as you are so try to show them the way with dancing.  Older kids probably get a bit more out of it than toddlers
  • Dress up – there is a different theme to every party and fancy dress is positively encouraged
  • Try to lose your inhibitions, easier said than done.  As adults alcohol always helps with dancing but at an afternoon rave it’s unlikely you’ll have had a few drinks beforehand like you would at an adult rave so you have to try to not be shy
  • Don’t be too disappointed when you leave and discover it’s still the afternoon and not the early hours of the morning

3 Comments
  1. Hi I have never been here before and I am thinking bout bringing my 2 children, ages 1 and 2, I was just wondering is it suitable for these ages, and what is there for them of that age??? Days Out – Big Fish, Little Fish at The Bedford, Balham – aroundtheworldwithahighchair.com

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