It was like I’d hit 88mph in a DeLorean. The same echoy sports hall, the same nutritious party buffet of crisps and sausage rolls. Everything but the music was the same, as I was disappointed to discover Justin Beiber and Ke$ha have replaced 5ive and the Vengaboys. ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ is simply no match for ‘Boom, Boom, Boom’.
Upon arriving at the hall, the guests were all sitting in a circle with a large piece of multicoloured fabric, known as a ‘parachute’, in the middle. Something I fondly recall from several birthday parties of my youth. How this turned into kid’s entertainment, I do not know, maybe Elmo likes to jump out of planes in his spare time. But the kids were more than happy to lift it up and run underneath it. Again, the fun value of this is questionable but I suppose that’s what happens when your biggest worry is what Hannah Montana is up to that week.
I also noticed that the segregation of the sexes is still in place. It was always tradition for the boys and girls to remain completely separate at that age, mainly to prevent the spread of germs or ‘cooties’ as our Yank cousins call it. So as the girls dance in the centre of hall, the boys stand at the edge comparing light up trainers and ‘battle scars’. The dancing is also something pretty special. I sure do miss the days when spinning round in a circle and waving your hands in the air was considered dancing. In fact, I personally think this is what is lacking from Diversity’s choreography.
However, there was one difference from my childhood that I did notice. As all the kids got up to showcase their dancing talent, one little boy walked into the centre of the hall, ribbon in hand, and began to ballet dance. I use this term loosely as I’m pretty sure we won’t be seeing him in a production of Swan Lake anytime soon, but it was ballet dancing none the less. As I was watching him leap around like a baby gazelle I’m ashamed to say that I pictured him being sat in the corner on his own for the rest of the afternoon. But when he finished dancing, he bounded over to the rest of the boys and joined in the great Spiderman vs Batman debate.
From what I remember of 1997, very few boys danced. And the ones that did would only spin around on their heads or ‘break dance’ as they called it. Any boy brave enough to branch out with his dancing style would end up as more of a Billy-no-mates than a Billy Elliot. So I welcome this shift in behaviour, even if it is likely to be a result of shiny faced poser Zac Efron’s prancing about in High School Musical. Apart from that, I hope that the new ‘Twilight generation’ continue to find party bags as exciting as I did in ‘97.