Please Stop Bringing Babies to the Ballet!

Posted: April 29, 2023 in Living and Life
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I normally don’t talk about this sort of thing on my blog. You know, because it’s kind of devoted to my writing career and to horror. But honestly, after today, I gotta say something to more than just my family. So strap in, kids. I’m doing a public service announcement veering into rant territory.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of ballet. I’ve even included it in a few of my stories. And I was very excited to go see my local company perform Swan Lake. It’s their last production of the season, it’s probably the most famous ballet in the world alongside Nutcracker, and it’s a lot of fun to guess what variation of the story the performers will do (there are many depending on the vision of the company). And it was, to my delight, a great show. Except for one little issue…some of the patrons had brought their babies and infants with them to the show.

If I could insert an actual sigh here, I would.

Look, I get it. We all need a little escape from our lives. And except for maybe Nutcracker, most companies will wait several years before performing the same show again, which means you probably only have the opportunity to see this production once. And nobody likes missing out on what they love. And for Nutcracker, I kind of expect small children at that one. It’s a family show with lots of exciting stuff happening onstage to keep their attention.

But seriously, why are you bringing a child that young to a show other than Nutcracker? At five or so, kids start to gain the ability to sit still for movies and shows and be quiet. But younger children, especially babies, aren’t able to do that. Many of them can’t even comprehend what’s going on around them.

Imagine, being in a room where it’s dark, there’s loud music constantly playing, and then there are bursts of house-shaking applause during the show. Any small child will be terrified and cry out!

In fact, many of them were. I counted at least four tots who cried at various times during the show. If not because they were scared, then because they were tired, or fussy, or they’re babies! That’s what they do. As well as gurgle, babble, and make any number of noises. All of which happened during the show and distracted the audience. Several times, the parents had to take their child out of the theater and into the foyer because it wouldn’t calm down or go to sleep.

Feels like a waste of a ticket, if you have to leave the show every twenty minutes because of your kid.

And that brings me to my next point. These tickets cost anywhere between seventy and four hundred dollars (excluding processing fees and whatnot). So you’re putting down several hundred dollars for tickets for these shows, including one for the baby, when your child isn’t able to understand or appreciate the show, and definitely won’t sleep through the whole thing. You might as well spend the money on a babysitter instead. From what I’m told, they’re much more affordable, and you wouldn’t be inconveniencing all the other guests who paid a lot of money to see this show as well.

And if you’re not ready to be separated from your kid, don’t go! You’ll save money, and you won’t have the inconvenience of leaving the show several times, climbing over people in seats that are as packed in as airplane seats.

And while I’m on the subject, this should go for movie theaters as well. Yes, movies are a lot more affordable than plays and ballets, but the concept still applies. Hell, it might even apply more! A lot of films these days include explosions, screaming, guns firing, and so many things that might frighten a small kid in a dark room.

I’ve had to deal with this at more movies than I dare to count. When I saw IT: Chapter Two, some woman in the front row brought her baby. During the first twenty minutes, the kid kept screaming and the people around her kept telling her to leave because it’s IT: Chapter Two! That movie is going to be loud and scary! And when I saw Logan a few years before, a kid was crying on the stairs in the theater because that’s a gory, violent film and he was scared! Took a good twenty minutes for the parents to get up and take the kid outside. I guess they thought he would just stop and take a nap?

Now, I know I’m not a parent. I don’t know how tough it is (though my parents did raise me and three younger sisters, so sometimes I feel like I kind of get it). But I know that young kids, unlike teens and adults, don’t know better about how to act during a movie. They just react. And if your kid isn’t ready for movies and you can’t get a babysitter…well, parenthood is about sacrifice. That’s what I’ve learned from every great parent I’ve ever come across. And sometimes, that sacrifice means waiting a few months for the movie to be available on streaming and Blu-Ray.

Luckily, there’s been some movement to prevent this sort of problem. A lot of movie theaters don’t allow young kids to see R-rated films at all, and won’t let them see PG-13 movies after a certain time. Many of these same theaters also have showings exclusively for families: the lights aren’t out all the way, talking and crying isn’t a big deal, and the film is something the kids can get into. And the majority of Broadway theaters and traveling shows require children be at least five years old, or they won’t let them into the theater. And many ballets can even be streamed these days, believe it or not! Some are even streamed live!

And yes, I might write to the company that runs the theaters to see if anything can be done. I mean, if they enforce Broadway policies for the touring Broadway shows, they might be willing to extend that to other events.

But really, parents of young children need to help out too. As I said above, these small kids can’t help being noisy. They’re not electronic devices you can just switch off. They’re going to react instinctually, and that will disturb audiences. But parents, you can make a choice. You can choose to waste money on something that your baby will disturb for you and everyone else. Or you can keep the kid home, and save everyone, including your kid, from having their night ruined.

And hey, you might still be able to see your show or movie. Like I said, babysitters are a lot more affordable than you might think.

Thanks for reading, folks. This has been something I’ve actually been wanting to write about for ages now, but after the show today, it just kind of came to a head and I had to make my feelings public. And if this changes even a few people’s minds, it’ll be worth it.

  1. Vera Day says:

    Being a mom, I’ve got to agree with you, Rami. Young ones don’t have the attention span for a ballet. And the loud bursts of sound in an adult movie are too much for a child.

    There are arts performances for young ones when no one glares at you when you have to rush out with a crying toddler.

    There are shorter, cartoon movies for wee ones. Even so, pediatricians are telling parents to limit screen time (it’s a brain thing), so while kids’ movies might be acceptable in society, they’re not necessarily the right way to keep a child engaged.


    • My local company actually opens up the dress rehearsal for school groups and home school groups. I think that would be appropriate to bring a baby too if a parent is desperate. Other than that, why bring them along?

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