Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Tap Party

The sort of birthday party I give my children is the one where you provide sweet stuff to eat and drink, a fancy birthday cake and some space for the little darlings to run around in. But I'm practically a luddite in this regard, because giving your child an extra-special party is what we like to do in Melbourne. There are so many options for the birthday child. Bowling parties, play centre parties, cooking parties, fairy parties, karate parties (I love that one, only 'cos it rhymes) and swimming parties. Or if you want to stay at home you can hire a fairy or a magician, a jumping castle or a fire-truck. The list goes on. As a mother I've witnessed quite a lot of these parties and my boys have both had themselves a good time as attendees. But when I got a call a few months ago to ask if I could "do" a Tap Dancing Party for a soon-to-be 7 year old, I really wasn't sure. For a start, doing a party each per year for my own children tuckers me out. And then, I've been to enough mass parties with an unruly mob of youngsters (mostly boys, which can get v-e-r-y unruly) to have felt pity for the person in charge of the little party-goers. I have actively thought I'm glad that's not me doing that.

But a job's a job. So I didn't flat out refuse. I had a little think instead. I thought about venue and price, ways and means. My tap school operates out of a community centre, where there is a No Parties Policy. Well, they let me hold my big party there but that was a special occasion. I didn't feel like pulling in special favours for this gig, especially when I realised that that would mean I'd have to be there early to unlock and no doubt involved in cleaning up prior to locking up too. I hate cleaning up. So I couldn't cut her the sort of deal I think she was hoping for, where she brought the kids and the party food to my place. I also researched what a fairy would charge to work her magic at a party (and got the ammunition for this post at the same time) and calculated if that was enough money to get me out of bed. And I decided it was, if I could do it on my terms.

So I said:
  • I'll come to a venue of your providing (must have wooden floor) for one hour.
  • I'll play tap dance based games.
  • I'll have some little slip-on tap plates for them to wear on their feet.
  • I'll make up and teach them a special routine.
  • I'll charge this much money.

And rather to my surprise (I'm not cheap!) this was all agreed to. Fortunately the Mum is a terribly nice woman (and her daughter is delightful as well) so she was thoughtful enough to ask if there were limits to the number of guests, something I'd not thought to stipulate, which meant that I was able to say that bringing more than 15 guests would necessitate an assistant and that that would cost her extra. After more talks, we set an upper limit of 20 guests as a manageable total, but, as you do, she invited a few more thinking some would not be able to make it. Every single child she invited, including the little friend from Adelaide, decided to come. Which made 22, but that was okay.

tap party6939

In fact, and this is partly because they were such a nice bunch of children, it didn't matter at all. With my glamorous assistant, the lovely Miss Kaye, on board, (she spent the first part of the party being awesome dealing with the my tap-plates have broken! calls* that rang round the room, turns out araldite wasn't quite strong enough and lucky I brought along my trusty roll of gaffer tape) we turned up to a hired hall -with a wooden floor- and proceeded to give those children a tap party. It was fun. We played a few games that sneakily also introduced tap concepts like digs and knocks and jumps and stamps. We pieced together some moves. A few of them started to wilt round the edges and Kaye whispered in my ear that a drink break would be a good thing. When they were refreshed we took all the bits they'd learned, and assembled them into a routine. Then we ran it through once. Some of the wilty edge-stragglers thought it was all over then, but No! I'm sorry, we can't let you have birthday cake unless you do it Once More With Feeling! (I wish I could say that to all my tap students.)

The birthday girl had a lovely party and I think all her friends did too. And guess what? I enjoyed myself too.

*They didn't all break I hasten to add, Mister Fixit is handier than that! One in five maybe? And you know, it 's noticeable that it was mostly the boys' ones that did break...


  1. If I wasn't such a tightarse I'd totally hire you. Maybe I should mention it to my sister in law who is not a tightarse and get her to hire you...

    But then, I'm also the sort of mother who'd rearrange her kid's birthday to two weeks earlier because it's less inconvenient that way (and less likely to result in a post-Christmas meltdown).

  2. Wow. Sounds like the coolest birthday party these kids will ever attend.

  3. Well done! And good for you, setting your terms! It sounds like a big hit all around. :)

  4. I would hire you yesterday.

    I am not a fan of parties but if I can outsource the entertainment I can begin to get my head around them.

  5. Ooooh, looks like fun!

    Yay to doing stuff on your terms...

    (The boys just wanted some gaffer tape to look tougher)

  6. Bloody brilliant idea!

    I miss tapping!

  7. Wow, maybe R SHOULD have a birthday party after all....

  8. I've idly thought about doing Drama Lesson parties. That's what I do for my own kids and they're always a big hit.

    Good on you! The kids would have had a ball.

  9. Did you really threaten them with no cake unless they performed to your high standards ?

    You scare me woman !!

    But yay on the gig - I bet you get heaps of referrals from it .. a whole new sideline business .. fabbo.

    And unrelated, but how come all these blogs have a new cool comment form, and me n Stacey ( @ Sheeps ) have the old lame version ?

    Blogger don't love me ?

  10. Gee! Can I come to the next one? I'd like to learn how to do digs and knocks and jumps and stamps!

  11. Yes! A new sideline business alright - just keep naming your price!

    And I'm with H&B - what's this new comment form about the place? I've only just upgraded my template etc - now a new commet form too :-0

  12. Oooh, tap parties and Frogdancer's drama parties. The party scene is really hotting up in Melbourne!

  13. I'm not sure I'm liking the new comment form but I think I'm just old-fashioned.

  14. Ahhh, what a great idea. You had me wanting to have a tap party (but I think my boys wouldn't agree so quickly!)
    Great post, I enjoyed this so much :-)

  15. Sometimes good ideas come from unexpected places.

    It looks like it was a hihge success and you have to be happy wiht that!

  16. I am just in awe that you weren't required to dress up as a fairy as well. Keepin' it real!

  17. Brilliant! Hope you followed up with your business cards in the party bags and details of your classes for their mums!
    I'd have loved to learn to tap when i was a kid.
    New comment form? What new comment form?

  18. I'm loving the idea of a tap party...I hope you're still doing them when The IP turns 7!

  19. This is a wonderful thing - a tap party !! Being an old tap girl myself (not current) I loove the thought of a tap party :)

    Just back from dance class with my wee lads (4 and 5). Today they tried on their costums for the Xmas Concert. So cute - a pink lycra singlets with with net overshirts with stars and glitter !

    Maybe next year first borm will do tap and I can re-live the glory days :) cheers le

    ps came to you from EasterMax

  20. Can you fly over here for our next birthday party? That looks like fabulous fun. In fact, stuff the kids, *I'd* like to have a tap party!

  21. Oh that's fantastic.
    Given the cost to throw these "staged" parties, I'm sure you were well worth your price. I've looked into it around here, and always settle on sweet treats, a cake, and a madhouse of boys – so far no rain.
    Again, if I were closer, I'd love to get in on some of your stomper action. My Tizzy likes to think of himself as the reincarnate Gene Kelly.


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