Instead of house or trance music, it’s mostly pop and dance remixes blaring from the speakers at Cielo, a club in Manhattan’s trendy meatpacking district. The music’s loud, but not too loud. Club-goers in T-shirts and Converse sneakers fill the dance floor, coated in neon stickers with glowsticks looped around their necks and wrists.
While a team of professional dancers call out steps, 7-year-old Atlas Geirsson is busy covering himself in orange tape that glows under the club’s lights. In a word, he thinks the party is “awesome.”
For 8-year-old Jeremy Vanderhook, it’s all about the novelty: “I’ve never been to a club before,” Vanderhook says.
“You have all of these beautiful venues that are vacant during the day,” says Jesse Sprague, who runs these events with his wife Jenny Song through their company, Cirkiz.
“We joke with the bouncer when we come in [to a club] for the first time,” he says. “We say, ‘You have the opposite job today, your job is to keep everyone in.’”
Sprague used to manage nightclubs and met Song at the Limelight two decades ago, at a party for fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier’s birthday. When they became parents and wanted to throw a party for their son’s first birthday — forget Chuck E. Cheese or a bouncy castle — a club seemed a natural choice for them.
The positive feedback from their guests gave them the idea to develop a business around kids’ parties. Their model is relatively simple: rent the clubs during the day when they’d usually be closed, hire entertainers, add some decorations, offer food and charge for admission. A single person costs $20 with group packages topping $1,000 or more.
Cirkiz’s last three monthly parties have sold out at 300 spots each. That’s encouraged Sprague and Song to look for opportunities to expand, perhaps to larger clubs and other cities.
Mom Kelvia Rosario comes to the grown-up version of Cielo every couple of months — it’s one of her favorite nightspots. When she heard they were hosting kids’ parties, she decided to bring her five-year-old son Ociel.
Ociel, dressed in a button -own shirt, was practically hugging his mom’s leg at the edge of the dance floor, not yet ready to join in. For some kids, club life takes a little getting used to.