Throw your hands in the air, and wave ’em like you just don’t care.
Hands reached skyward, heads nodding to the beat. But the DJ wasn’t feeling it. He wanted us to bring the noise.
Let me hear you scream, Oh yeah!
And scream we did. In fact, the space was jam-packed with screamers, crawlers and their hangers-on (aka mums and dads). It was 10.30am and Bookworm Babies was in full effect.
Commissioned by the Southbank Centre for the Imagine Children’s Festival, Bookworm Babies was conceived by DJ Charlie Dark as a hip hop/poetry show aimed at babies under 2.
Dark hooked us, young and old, on a mix of old-school anthems and original rhymes. Sample lyric:
‘A scratch is like an itch and a scratch is like a tickle/it’s like putting your hand in the record and making it giggle’ (NB: I’m ad libbing here!)
He got his inspiration for Bookworm Babies and its lively cast of hand puppets from an album cover that featured an octopus on eight turntables.
‘I thought that would be a great character to introduce children to hip hop.’
Dark, who describes himself as poet, writer and teacher, is best known as one third of the hip hop inspired trio Attica Blue. He’s toured the world as a DJ and performer, playing on radio and festivals like the Big Chill.
His latest gig came after he became a papa to Noah (4) and Naima (6).
‘After having kids, I got tired of going to playgroups and singing Wind the Bobbin Up. There’s only so much winding the bobbin anyone can take!’
He created an interactive disco for families called ‘My Dad’s a DJ and My Mum is Too’, that’s starting up again soon.
Meanwhile at the Southbank, Dark wrapped up with big tunes by the likes of Blondie and Sugarhill Gang. Parents hit the floor, spinning tots around with abandon.
Many of us had the eager grins and creaky moves of people who hadn’t seen the inside of a nightclub in months. Possibly years. But we didn’t care.
After a shy start, my boys got into the swing of things.
‘Crazy legs’ Ezra impressed Dark with his moves.
I bumped into one mum boogieing with her baby girl in a front carrier.
‘What’s making me laugh is that I used to go to parties where Charlie deejayed,’ she said. ‘And now look at me!’
On the Spot
Sophie and Minou (8 months)
‘It was really good fun, we were here on Monday too. It was just as packed then but I think they’ve done something with the seating to make it more relaxed today. Minou loved it. She likes a good dance and she’s at that stage where she really enjoys watching other babies.’
Visit Southbank Centre for current and future events
Check out Charlie Dark’s running club at Run Dem Crew