Sunday tripping: At a new daytime nightclub, children bring out the child in their parents. London's biggest happy family? Catherine Eade investigates

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The Independent Culture
This Sunday at London's Heaven, while adults sip tea and listen to ambient music on dancefloor mattresses, children will be experiencing their own nightclub at The Sound Shaft next door.

The brainchild of Sionaidh Craigen, a partner of Megatripolis, The Sunday Thing (working title 'Mothershipolis') will be the first club specifically for children. The two venues are linked by a connecting door so that adults can enter The Sound Shaft freely, but Heaven is strictly off-limits for unaccompanied children.

Eight years ago Craigen was helping her partner run Oak Dragon camps, 'Universities under the stars', which offered people the chance to focus on arts, crafts and spiritual traditions in temporary, hand-built 'villages' up and down the country. This year Craigen turned her attention to the idea of a nightclub for children.

There has always been the odd babe in arms and staggering toddler at events like the Whirl-Y- gig, but until now promoters have been wary of giving children the run of a venue. 'I thought there should be a way of getting youngsters together to help them lose their negativity,' she says, 'and I desperately wanted to be able to take my children to a club in London.' It's not just the youngsters who will benefit, she believes. 'Children can help us bring out the child in ourselves, get in touch with the energy and creativity which we suppress as adults.'

Debbie Sapsford, part of the Slack posse from Brighton and mother of three, is making it happen. 'The idea is to provide parents with an alternative to packing the kids off to the cinema on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and create a community atmosphere. It gives people with children a chance to chat to friends in a relaxed environment.'

The children's club will boast theatre workshops, painting, puppets, computer games, and plenty of toys. Children may be given the chance to learn natural healing techniques like shiatsu. There is even talk of DJs being drafted in from next door to show children how to mix records.

Adults will be encouraged to join in with their offspring's activities, but there is a strict no-smoking or drinking rule if they do wander into the children's club. There will be four child-minders each week from a network of friends and volunteers. At the moment licensing restrictions limit the club to children over five, but the organisers hope this will eventually change so that parents with babies are not excluded.

Next door the adults will be experiencing ambient soundscapes provided by the Open Mind collective, 'bedroom DJs' and special guests. The main dancefloor will resemble an enormous bedroom, there will be a market selling arts and crafts, fountains, meditation and yoga, lectures and films. Children will be allowed to visit the market and certain other areas if accompanied by an adult.

'You can build new guidelines of respect and morals that are lacking in schools. We like to influence political and social change,' says Craigen.

Do either of them anticipate problems? Sapsford pauses, then laughs, 'Hundreds.'

The Sunday Thing, 2pm-2am Sundays starting 24 April. Children (2-6pm) 5-13 yrs old pounds 1. Adults pounds 4. Heaven, Grand Arch, Villiers St under Charing Cross Station, London WC2 (081-960 1480)