The woman grooving to the Whitney Houston song is dancing with a partner most ladies would not consider “traditionally handsome.” He’s less than 3 feet tall, he’s wearing orange shorts and he’s far too interested in a bubble maker gurgling in the corner.
But for a toddler, he’s got some decent dance moves.
This is “Baby Rock!,” a dance party for parents and their young children, held Sunday at The Bar at 2132, a Southside establishment. The event was a joint effort between My Baby and Me, a recently created program from the Jewish Community Center, and Urban Mommies, a local business geared toward mothers of young children.
Urban Mommies typically offers cultural midweek events, like private tours of local museums, to groups of mothers and their children. Sheila Solomon came up with the idea once she started having children and left her job as a genetic counselor.
With babies, she found it harder to get out of the house.
“That transition from professional life to stay-at-home mom was kind of difficult, and I thought, ‘There have to be other women out there who feel the same way,’” Solomon said.
My Baby and Me aims for a similar goal, according to Miriam Abramovich, family life coordinator for the JCC. The program offers a variety of classes and activities geared toward parents with children under the age of 4.
“We really want to capture the interest of families when they’re really young, and then keep them involved in the community as their kids grow, and as they grow, and their needs change,” Abramovich said.
Baby Rock is the first joint effort from the two groups. The result was a bar re-imagined by the Sesame Street set: juice boxes instead of cocktails, a “VIP Lounge” filled with children’s book and a diaper changing station instead of a line for the bathroom.
While a disc jockey spun hits from the 1980s, mothers Ellen Filar and Pearl Hellman sat at a table decorated with rubber ducks and plastic keys, as their children played underfoot.
“We used to go to the bars and the clubs all the time,” Filar said. “Now that we’re moms, we can’t. This gives you an opportunity to do something you used to do before you were a mom.”
It’s also an alternative to staying at home practicing baby talk, said Shaina Schachter, a mother of two boys, who has been attending Urban Mommies events for two years. Getting out of the house “makes you a better mother,” she said.
Abramovich said social events are about more than just having fun. New mothers stuck at home can find themselves battling isolation and post-partum depression.
“There are all sorts of challenges that new moms face that are really very serious, and having a social outlet can sometimes resolve some of those potential issues instantly,” Abramovich said.
Abramovich also said events like Baby Rock allow women to balance motherhood with the personal or professional identity they had before giving birth.
“I don’t know a single mom who’s not struggling with that on some level, regardless of whether or not they’re working,” she said. “Even if they’ve decided to stay home, there’s a 99 percent chance they were working before. They gave up that part of their identity.”
(Eric Lidji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)