Dad Rock is a new column in which Ryan Foley will attempt to look at pop music and pop culture from the precipice of middle age. If he ultimately leaps, it's because tiny hands ruined his Galaxie 500 vinyl. Accusations that he's raising five insufferable hipster children can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It might have been the "Muppets Take Judy" event at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, with its clubgoers wearing homemade, droopy-eyed, paper-mache Missy Piggy heads. Or maybe it was "The End of the World is Coming, What Kind of Pirate Will You Be?" at the Firehouse in Phoenix, where curled lips and plastic cutlasses were out in force.
But it in all likelihood it was the "Valentine's Day No Pants Party" at San Francisco's Knockout. Perusing the online slideshow of this event it suddenly dawned on me that my day-to-day existence as a father of five is nothing more than a series of themed nightclub events. As I skimmed through photos of frilly panties offering minimal backside coverage, I was reminded of my five-year-old, who is notorious for gamboling about in nothing but a pair of Jango Fett-emblazoned skivvies. In our house, the rate of pantlessness would make Lady Gaga blush.
Parents are quite familiar with silly, uninhibited self-expression. Kids are bold, flaky, without shame, and prone to very public displays of nasal excavating. Kids are weird--I mean, really fucking weird. Finding that juvenile, infectious eccentricity on display in adults is a little engrossing. Nightclubs offer punk rock pillow fights, Mario Brothers-themed mixers, Star Wars dress-ups, and mustache parties with the emphasis on the fake and the outlandish. I flicked through photos of a New York joint that passed out mock lightsabers and encouraged participants to stage pitched battles. I can assure you that at some point during the evening some dude held a lightsaber to his crotch and waved it around like it was his penis, only because it's happening in my living room right now. "This month's installment at DNA Lounge," went the description of another slideshow, "featured bawdy burlesque dancers, death-defying acrobats, and at least one guy getting dollar bills stapled to his ass." I laughed; my Saturday nights with the kids make this look like story hour at the public library.
All these colorful, puerile themes serve a purpose. Clubs trade in a variety of four-walled escapism that the grind of adulthood pretty much necessitates. We want to lose ourselves; we need to lose ourselves. Tapping into our "child within" essentially assures that we achieve that. Grown-ups can't truly play make-believe unless it's dressed up as childhood nostalgia.
Here at home, when the "living, breathing pandemonium" (writer/DJ Dave Haslam's describing a club full of Ecstasy rats; he could have been describing a house full of rugrats) veers into the red, I've learned it's sometimes better to foster that pandemonium rather than snuff it out. We exert a lot of energy trying to figure out the core tenets of the kid universe. ("What would ever possess you to do that?" is my endlessly asked query.) Maybe instead, we should hold our noses and jump in with them.
Parenting isn't always about enforcing rules, but about gleefully ignoring them on certain occasions. "Yes, you can light those fireworks off in the kitchen. Here is your mother's favorite mixing bowl." Recent studies have shown that moms and dads are generally more stressed than they are happy. Maybe some in-house buffoonery and calamity is what parents need. I know I do; it helps stave off the impending insanity.
So getting back to themed nightclub events ... Fatherhood hasn't just fine-tuned my sense of humor; it's made the dream job of nightclub manager that much closer to reality. My kid-inspired themes would be all the rage ... You know, among glabrous, stubbly hipster dads like myself. Who wouldn't want to attend "The Sound of Funky Legos," where the snappy funk and disco of 1970s Nigeria meets everyone's favorite snapping blocks? Play with colorful, life-size foam blocks! Pick a Lego out of a jar and match up with the member of the opposite sex holding the same brick. Then bump hips to the fuzzy guitars, bleating organs, and polyrhythmic grooves of BLO, Orlando Julius, and Sir Victor Uwaifo.
What about "Aye, Robot?" Dress up like a robot from your childhood: Johnny 5, Gort, or maybe the dude from Alien who spews milk everywhere. "Robotize your behind" to the cold synthesizers and crisp, programmed beats of Detroit techno's finest: Model 500, Reese, Rythim Is Rythim.
Or how about "Merry Old Soles?" "Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. What he meant was Northern soul! And silly looking soles! Don those disco goldfish shoes, furry bear slippers, or Gene Simmons demon boots. Then toss 'em to the side and kick your feet to the best sub-Motown dance singles of the '60s.
Alright, alright--I'll stop. Nightclub themes always sound more clever when you're shitfaced. Besides, I'm wanted elsewhere: My bouncer skills are needed. The kids have gone clubbing again. And as always, pants are optional.
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.