Big Fish Little Fish (BFLF), which has organised family raves across the UK and Australia since 2013, hits Dublin today (9 June), for what promises to be one of the unmissable dance events of the year… particularly for those still in kindergarten.
Taking place at Tramline, the inaugural Big Fish Little Fish Ireland event welcomes dance music royalty in the form of Altern 8’s Mark Archer, for what promises to be a daytime session with a difference – think fancy dress, glitter cannons, giant balloons and a dancefloor full of bubbles.
And, of course, lashings of late 80s and early 90s acid house, drum n bass and jungle – the BFLF genres of choice, dontcha know.
As Archer himself told 909originals recently, Big Fish Little Fish is a “fantastic idea, I’ve done them up and down the UK – Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, all over. They also had a stage at Camp Bestival one year, where I played a speed garage set.
“A lot of the time I play the same sort of set that I would play on a Saturday night – I might start off with some old school piano stuff and work up to Belgian techno and breakbeat. If you play a bit of jungle, they absolutely love it.”
In other words, for those of you that thought having kids meant you had to grow up and be ‘sensible’, think again.
909originals caught up with entrepreneurs Brian Kelly, Laura O’Donoghue and Al Maher, the team bringing BFLF to Dublin, to get their perspective on why there’s no party like a Big Fish Little Fish party.
As Brian explains, he and partner Laura first came across Big Fish Little Fish three years ago via Facebook – with the pair having three young kids themselves, this seemed the perfect opportunity to keep the rave fires burning.
“For me, right now, I think Ireland is crying out for this,” he says. “The dance scene in Dublin is in a bad way right now; with the loss of most of our big clubs and ridiculous licensing laws it’s really difficult for people like myself and Laura to get out and go to a good dance night.
“For one thing, there’s not much choice any more, and having young kids, we need to organise babysitters – so once you get out, have a few drinks, get taxis and all, you are broke… and you have to look after your kids while hungover! It’s just not worth it.
“With BFLF, you can get the Luas into town with the kids, listen to your favourite old school DJs, have a few pints and have a really enjoyable day out with the family, for a lot cheaper than a Saturday night out.”
Laura agrees, saying that events like Big Fish Little Fish open up “a new world” for kids, particularly as they get to enjoy the event with their parents.
“Kids love music and love to dance, most of the time that might be at a dance class with kids their own age,” she explains. “But now they get to jump around to tunes with their parents.
“It’s all about having fun and it’s a really good chance to bond and let loose! But if they do get bored of looking at dad throwing shapes on the dancefloor like it’s 1992, they can go to the arts and crafts area where there are plenty of things to do. There’s also confetti cannons, bubbles, giant balloons and the parachute dance at the end… kids love it! The fancy dress element really helps get them really excited too.”
As for what the DJs make of it?
“They absolutely love it,” says Brian. “It’s all about having fun. The DJs don’t have to worry about building a set, track selection etc, just blast out whatever they want in whatever order they want and jump around behind the decks and have fun.
“The kids are in awe of them too while they are playing – getting to meet them or get a pic with them makes their day… and their parents’ too.”
As fellow organiser Al Maher of Spektrum Radio explains, getting Altern 8’s Mark Archer on board for BFLF’s Dublin debut came about through a fortunate encounter.
“I interviewed Mark for Spektrum Radio, and when I was talking to Nikki Archer, Mark’s partner, she mentioned she had gone to a family rave. Instantly I was intrigued and thought ‘there’s something in this..’”
As to why the concept appeals to big name DJs, Al says, “It seems to be the bigger or higher profile the DJ, the more they love it. For the likes of Mark, it’s something different for him too. He has been playing all over the world for the last 25-plus years. This is a fresh and different experience for everyone involved, including the DJ.”
While for some, Big Fish Little Fish is likely to be the most timely arrival to Dublin clubbing since the Temple Theatre, other parents might be apprehensive about bringing their children into a nightclub setting. But as Al explains, the event has been tailored to be as kid-friendly as possible; it is likely to be the little ones, rather than mum and dad, that are eager for an after party.
“I completely understand people’s hesitations when it comes to their kids,” he says, “but I would encourage parents to check out the videos we have posted of actual events in UK and Australia – plenty of kids, all safe and having the best music experience of their lives!
“We are obsessed with safety; as we say it’s a family friendly rave, and a great day out for the entire family.”
Laura says that the friendly atmosphere on the dancefloor lends itself to a memorable experience for all. “It’s a huge part of our ethos that we are all one big happy family. The sound levels are a lot lower than they would be for a normal gig; they are kept to WHO-recommended levels and are checked every 15 minutes to make sure the DJs aren’t losing the run of themselves.
“We also have a baby chillout area and soft play for those who need a little break,” she adds. “It’s a lot quieter there and gives the little ones a chance to take it all in. We do recommend that if parents are worried about sound levels they can pick up little ear defenders for them, to give mum and dad some peace of mind while still being able to have all the fun.”
The first edition of Big Fish Little Fish Dublin, taking place today, is sold out, but future events are on the way. Check out www.bigfishlittlefishevents.com for more information.