It’s almost as if you’re back at a rave in the 1990s – but instead of having a drink in your hand, you’re holding your child as they bop along too.
This is Mini Ravers – the event where you can take your children to a rave. And the concept has taken Portsmouth by storm.
‘Taking your kids clubbing with you is unheard of – but we’re making it happen,’ says Liam Howes, one half of the duo who founded Mini Ravers in August 2018.
Since its launch, Mini Ravers has played sold-out events and will be returning by popular demand to Portsmouth Guildhall on December 29 after its huge success at the end of October.
But for now, Liam, 27, and his co-founder Liam Muns, 34, from Waterlooville, are enjoying the success of their unique event and are planning how they can make it bigger.
Mr Howes, from Stubbington, has always loved clubbing and didn’t want to give it up once children came along.
‘When I turned 18, I was out all the time,’ he admits.
‘Liam and I are both dads now – I have Lawson who is two-and-a-half years old and Liam has one-year-old Aria.’
Aside from their love for clubbing, they are both full-time DJs.
Mr Howes performs regular gigs at Mr Miyagis in Guildhall Walk and Eden in Gunwharf.
Mr Muns plays at Popworld in Guildford as well as other clubs in the area.
‘We put our DJ skills and being new parents together and Mini Ravers was born,’ explains Mr Howes.
When Mini Ravers launched in August last year, their events weren’t always as packed as they are now.
‘It was on a small scale to start with’ Mr Howes continues.
‘We used some of our savings to start it, but ticket sales cover the costs now.
‘It's our passion now.’
For some, the thought of taking their child into a club may be unthinkable.
However, Mr Muns says the event has many kids mesmerised and the music isn’t too loud for the little ravers, so it doesn’t upset them.
‘Kids just love music. I guess they have been exposed to it from a young age – our children definitely have,’ he laughs.
‘We welcome all ages at our events but our range so far has been from six months old to 12 years old.
‘We used to play to around 200-300 people in smaller nightclubs but now we have held events at the Guildhall.
‘Because we’re nightclub DJs, we knew which venues would be on board with it and were quite happy to do it.
‘As it got bigger and more popular, we searched for a bigger venue like the Guildhall.
‘It was completely different to doing it in clubs.’
Mini Ravers held their first big event, called Lil Monsters Festival, at the Guildhall in October and since then the demand has grown.
‘We try and make each event a full festival experience,’ says Mr Howes.
‘We have bouncy castles, meet and greets, confetti cannons, glow sticks, face painters and more.’
During their normal two-hour sets, the Liams DJ with ‘90s rave music – which they say is always a hit with the parents – as well as Disney classics, party tunes such as the Cha Cha Slide and sing-a-long songs.
‘It’s quite surreal,’ adds Mr Howes.
‘I think the parents enjoy it as much as the kids,’ he laughs.
‘We try to make it as much for them as for the kids.’
While the Liams are up on stage, their partners have been a great support behind the scenes.
‘Both of our partners just love it. They help out with decorations – we couldn’t do it without them,’ says Mr Muns.
More than 1,000 mini ravers attended the Lil Monsters Festival at the Guildhall but now the Liams are preparing for their Winter Wonderland event at the venue on December 29.
Mr Howes grins and says: ‘We hoped Lil Monsters would be big and it was. We want this one to be even bigger.’
Both Mr Howes and Mr Muns’ lives revolve around music.
With Mini Ravers taking off at an unexpected level, their unique events are now booked in venues across the country.
Mr Howes explains: ‘Because of the success and exposure we have had here in Portsmouth, other venues have asked us to put on events.’
Towards the end of this year, Mini Ravers will be clubbing at Gosport, Isle of Wight, Guildford, Southampton, Brighton and more.
But looking to 2020, there will also be gigs farther afield in cities such as Coventry, Cardiff, Bristol, London, Leicester and Milton Keynes.
‘It’s very exciting,’ adds Mr Muns.
‘It’s crazy how this little business has suddenly turned into a full-time job.’
For more information about Mini Ravers and to book tickets for the next event, go to miniravers.com. For the December rave go to portsmouthguildhall.org.uk.