Strictly Baby Disco

Baby Gaga

The title of Channel 4’s ‘Strictly Baby Disco’ documentary is pretty misleading.

Firstly: there aren’t actually any babies involved. Yes, the kids involved are all under 10, but anyone expecting a real-life version of that Evian ad with the computer generated cherubic breakdancers will be disappointed.

Secondly, you’d think that the ‘disco’ referred to in the title was self-explanatory, right? There are many strange things about this programme, but the most baffling of all is that the dancing portrayed is definitely not disco dancing as we know it. Believe me, if you tried to impress with any of these moves down your local Jumpin’ Jacks, the best you could hope for (other than public ridicule and humiliation) would be a swift exit in a straightjacket.

The main elements of this sort of ‘disco’ seem to consist of gambolling around the dancefloor at top speed, occasionally leaping into the air with limbs akimbo, and regularly performing a series of wince-inducing body contortions. Imagine freestyle gymnastics sped up to about 180 bpm, with very little grace or coordination, and you’re somewhere near.

Oh, and of course this doesn’t have to bear much relation to the rhythm of the music, which is all – without exception- dreadful.

As mentioned, all of the dancers are under ten, and some of them have been dancing since they were three. As seems to be a prerequisite for any sort of dancing competition, a deep fake tan and make up two inches thick are essential. As for the costumes, the colours are offensively bright, the sequins are plentiful and the tassels are long- leaving some of the girls looking like extras from Bladerunner, others like Lady Gaga tributes and one who looks like a pirouetting raccoon  (not the look she intended. Probably).

How this bizzare genre originated is never explained– nor is how on earth you’re meant to judge it.

Until the very last rounds of any competition, the dancers all perform at the same time and on the same dancefloor, meaning that there are all sorts of mid-air collisions and often nobody can build up enough speed to perform one of the manoeuvres mentioned above. There are so many limbs and tassels flailing around that it’s impossible to tell what’s going on until you get to the solo rounds.

And ah yes, the mothers. As with most of these competitive sports for kids, you have to question the motivation of the parents. There are no dads featured in this programme, and to be honest, freestyle disco does seem like a strictly female environment: not to mention the fact that even the most devoted drag queen would probably find some of the costumes a bit over the top.

Nobody’s forcing the kids to do it, and they seem to enjoy it, but they’re absolutely knackered and there’s no let up from the mums when this happens. When one mini dancer exhausts herself so much she bursts into tears, mum is on hand to administer a swift tincture of diet coke. The mums have got their own forum online and, tellingly, one admits that ‘it’s the only social life I have’, so it’s not surprising that when they’re in the audience of one of the competitions, they behave as though they’re at a Westlife gig, screaming manically and brandishing day-glo accessories.

Anyone still wishing to try out some of these moves having watched the show, apart from possibly needing their brain testing, is left in no doubt of the amount of training and dedication required, or the need to practice in an area away from mum’s ornaments and best furniture.

But you can’t help but think these young girls teetering on the edge of adolescence might be happier left to make their own make up mistakes and given the time to put in those all important hours staring at pictures of Justin Bieber.


3 Responses to Strictly Baby Disco

  1. Paul says:

    I caught the last half of this.

    Never again will I mock those US junior beauty pageants.

    • Hilary Wardle says:

      I haven’t seen it. But I have watched it in my brain while reading this article which is- somehow- even worse.

  2. Claire says:

    They aren’t babies, they’re around 9. Looked fun, I can tell the reigning champion has a great and fun relationship with her mum, which is obviously key. Felt sorry for the girl with the ‘nightmare’ mother who was obviously trying to live her lost dream through her child. The girl needed encouragement, not to be belittled by her mum. No wonder she kept getting ill from stress but even then her mum thought she could still dance with a kidney infection because ‘she dances with her feet, not her kidneys’…..and….’how can a 9 year old possibly get stressed?’…lol thick as. I grew up dancing but neither my mother or my strict teacher would allow me to dance when sick. Dancing is fun but some mums go way too far to the extent of putting their dreams before their child’s wellbeing. Shocking.

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