The Rumpus Room is the first in a series of planned family-friendly afternoon DJ parties at the U Street club, and it will be a chance for Meisnere's 2 1/2-year-old son, Avi, and McPherson's 5-year-old son, Ian, to watch their dads at work. Avi “knows that I'm a DJ,” Meisnere says. “He's got his own records,” mostly old Disney soundtracks, and “he knows they're his records, and he asks me to put them on.”
Family-friendly DJ events have been popular in D.C. clubs on and off the past decade. The most successful, the nationally franchised Baby Loves Disco, was actually held at U Street Music Hall in 2013. (That series is defunct.) But McPherson says Rumpus Room has an advantage: “As DJs, we're going to do a better job of curating the music.”
“It's kind of like wedding music,” Meisnere says. " '80s and '90s music, stuff people know. No deep house,” he adds with a chuckle. In preparation for the event, he has been using his son as a guinea pig. “I've been playing more dance stuff, songs [Avi] doesn't know, to see how that goes.” So far, the winners are such up-tempo songs as Mark Ronson's “Uptown Funk” or Paul Simon's “Obvious Child,” which make it easy for kids to bounce and wiggle along. In the McPherson household, Psy's “Gangnam Style” and Katy Perry's “Dark Horse” have been popular, but it's not always that straightforward. “My son loves a lot of radio Top 40 pop hits, and also classic rock,” McPherson says. “He loves [Black] Sabbath, [Led] Zeppelin, Cheap Trick. … He is a huge fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. One day, Ozzy's “Crazy Train” was on, and I said, 'Ian, check this out. It's a song about a train going off the rails!' And he loved it!”
With the party is targeted at children age 8 down to infants, both McPherson and Meisnere know that their audience isn't just the children on the dance floor — it's their parents, too. “We've all gotten older, and a lot of our peers with kids and responsibilities don't go out anymore,” McPherson says. “A lot of them miss out on the nightlife. Babysitters are expensive, and when you do go out, it's date night. With this, you get to go to the club and dance and get home at a decent hour.” Besides, he says, it's all about quality time: “We hope parents will show their kids their dance moves that they used to do at Mousetrap or Bliss” dance parties back in the day.
U Street Music Hall regulars will notice some significant changes from the night before: The coat check will be turned into a diaper-changing room. The green room, the VIP lounge where headliners hang out before going onstage, will be reserved for nursing moms. Also, the staff, which contains several parents, will be cleaning and childproofing the club well before doors open.
Snacks will be provided, with juice boxes for sale. Parents can take advantage of brunch drink specials, including $7 bloody marys.
“We want kids to have a really good time,” Meisnere says, so the club will be full of props, including bubble machines, hula hoops and egg shakers. “We understand the attention spans aren't the longest.”