As a dad with a toddler, finding stuff to do can be painstakingly difficult. You're either locked into forced friendships with other parents while your kids play together, you partake in dull toddler classes, or worse. Anything that breaks the cycle of boredom is welcome, which is exactly why I was open to something by the suspect name of Baby DJ School.
How did I learn of such a thing? On a random Wednesday evening, my two-year-old son Dylan was playing with his mother in the other room when I jumped on my phone to idly peruse Instagram. I noticed Amoeba Records had shared a photo, so I scrolled back up. Rather than promoting a sale or an upcoming in-store artist appearance, the account shared a post about Baby DJ School—with a happy group of kids, parents and the instructor—that had taken place the previous Saturday.
I couldn't believe I had stumbled upon something so ridiculous. Toddlers barely know their names, they can't yet wipe their own butts, and they almost certainly lack the fine motor skills to keep a beat going. I'm usually skeptical, but the idea of Baby DJ School had me somewhat intrigued. So I made the mistake of telling my wife, who wanted to sign us up immediately.
Instinctively, I had my reservations about taking a two-year-old to something as strange as Baby DJ School. I thought it was crazy to instruct kids between the ages of six months and five years to be the next Diplo or Calvin Harris since the odds of retaining the information for any meaningful period of time would be slim. This also seemed like something that bordered on parody, the kind of thing I'd see only on the Los Feliz Daycare Twitter account, which didn't sit too well with me. I also feared something like Baby DJ School would attract every dipshit parent in the greater Hollywood area, but that was a risk I had to be willing to take.
Dylan and I signed up for a one-time trial class. What did I have to lose? And besides, there are only so many things you can try with a toddler, the class happened to take place during a barren period in our Saturday morning activity schedule, and it was $25 for a 45 minute class. There wasn't really an excuse not to give it a shot. If nothing else, we'd have something to do that weekend and could make for good people watching.
In the months prior to discovering this class for would-be Tiesto, my son and I ran through a gamut of Saturday morning activities, including soccer, book readings, and playing at assorted family entertainment centers. Each was somewhat fun the first time, but we didn't find anything worthy of making into a regular routine. We'd end up at the occasional toddler music class or birthday party centered around guitars, drumming, and singing, and each time it made me want to rip my eyeballs out. Baby DJ School at least seemed different and had an interesting—if not slightly illogical—premise. And besides, some years from now, my baby DJ would be a pre-pubescent DJ, and he could potentially bring in some extra cash playing the bar mitzvahs circuit.
Growing up in a middle class neighborhood in Queens, I hated Saturday morning activities that didn't revolve around watching cartoons, wrestling, or some combination of the two. For me, fun meant spending a couple of hours on a playground, hitting a McDonald's PlayPlace and crushing a Happy Meal. Whenever my dad took me to the PlayPlace, it was the highlight of my week. Hanging out with my dad was always pretty awesome, even if it was an activity as mundane as running around at the park. I want Dylan to think of me in the same esteem later in his life, and so far, we hadn't found have an activity that we were both into.
So I knew I had to make the most of the session. If I wasn't into it, then I knew my negative energy would permeate onto my son. In the spirit of not being a total dick, I told Dylan the morning of the session we were going to Baby DJ School instead of Barnes & Noble. He was nonplussed as he chomped on a gluten-free blueberry muffin.
When we arrived at Amoeba for the first class on a sleepy Saturday morning, we were greeted by a surprisingly energetic group of people. We were a few minutes late, but the instructor, DJ Annie Wonder, couldn't be more welcoming. She has the right amount of energy to snap me out of my pre-coffee haze. Annie was in the process of introducing her laptop, mixer and Traktor Pro to the kids before we interrupted. To my surprise, the parents weren't the too-cool type. Instead, they seemed like pretty normal folks there to have fun with their kids.
Watching the other parents participate inspired me to do so as well, and I quickly realized that the class wasn't as weird as I anticipated. Watching my son try to scratch a dinged up 12-inch on Annie's turntable gave me an overwhelming feeling of happiness, especially as he grinned when realized what he needed to do. I didn't have this feeling during his soccer classes. Though he's not quite Cut Chemist, he wasn't terrible—or at least as terrible as you'd expect from someone his age.
When DJ Annie Wonder busted out the bubble machine during the song about house music, I could see how happy Dylan was in this class. Scampering around the room like a wild man along with his classmates, it finally hit me that taking to this class was the right move. Besides, songs about pitch and jungle music are catchy, simple, and easy for the kids to remember.
The class breezed by and soon enough, it was time to say goodbye to the turntable, speaker and to Annie's laptop. I thanked her for the enjoyable experience and promised we'd be back (I signed up for the rest of the session when we got home that afternoon) next week. In the middle of our brief chat, I saw Dylan putting a 12-inch on a turntable without help. He was disappointed we had to leave, but I told him that we'd be back. Following this surprisingly entertaining morning, there was only place to go celebrate our successful first day of Baby DJ School. Not McDonald's. I'm not that terrible. To Shake Shack we went.
Daniel Kohn is a writer living in LA. Follow him on Twitter.