Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pearl Plays PDX #2 - Cafe au Play plus Olive and Dingo

This post is a bit of a double feature.  We visited Cafe au Play to see Olive and Dingo perform last Thursday.
This is the mission statement for Cafe au Play:
"Cafe au Play is a nonprofit coffeehouse whose mission is to meet the needs of diverse families for a comfortable, accessible space that encourages social interaction, genuine and sustainable support, creative stimulation, and community inclusion."
I love the concept of the space.  When we visit during times without a scheduled event, it is wonderful.  The cafe is relaxing, has great toys to keep kids busy, good coffee, and a friendly atmosphere.  Other parents will just strike up a conversation with you which is really nice.  I don't end up feeling awkward when I go without another adult.
The space is small which can become stressful when there is an activity or performance scheduled.  It fills up fast, and with a limited number of tables, you might be stuck standing for quite some time.  You will also probably be holding a diaper bag, kids coats, and numerous other things without a place to set them down.  I absolutely recommend going during a slow time for your first visit so you can truly appreciate the space and what they have to offer.  If you go to see Olive and Dingo (or probably any other performance), show up really early.  At least an hour early.  I arrived a half hour early and would have not ended up with a seat if a group of teenagers hadn't left right before the performance.  I seriously sat down in a chair right as a girl stood up.  I didn't even give her time to walk away.  Seats are that hard to come by and when you have two kids, you have lots of stuff.  I wasn't about to stand there awkwardly for another hour.
Something important to note is they do not allow outside food.  This isn't generally a problem though because the cafe has an extensive menu with kid friendly options.  I know it can get expensive purchasing food for yourself and the kids, but keep in mind that food and drink sales are how the coffeehouse sustains itself so you can be there enjoying yourself in the first place.
They have covered outdoor seating as well as an outside play area so it seems to be an ideal place to go on pretty spring days and during the summer.  I also thought it was worth mentioning that the bathroom is much larger than you would expect for a space that small, is clean, and has a changing table.  Those things are very important to me.
 Olive and Dingo are Portland-y clowns.  That's really the only way to describe them.  They are colorful and fun.  I think Pearl might be one of their biggest fans now.  Possibly a groupie.  She LOVES them.
During their set, Olive sings and Dingo plays guitar.  They perform original children's songs as well as sing along to children's books.  Olive does fun voices and there is is a lot of playful banter between the two of them.  Pearl danced up a storm for most of it.  She also handed Dingo a maraca while he was playing which he graciously accepted.
After the musical portion of the performance is done, they make balloon animals.  I have never seen anyone as talented at making balloon animals as these two (full disclosure...I have not been around many clowns).  I did find their skills to be extremely impressive though.  They have a $5 suggested donation for a balloon animal and your child will want one so bring the $5.  If you are lame like I was and don't have cash, they will probably still make your child a balloon animal because they are nice.  Bring them money though because they deserve it.  I plan to bring extra next time.  I still feel bad about not having cash.
Pearl constantly asks to go to a coffee shop now because she is under the impression that Olive and Dingo will just show up at the coffee shop and start singing.  We definitely plan to see them again.  I'm going to check their schedule to see if they regularly perform at a larger venue because I do get a bit stressed out in tight quarters.
Both location and performers get two thumbs up from me and Pearl.  I think I just prefer the two separately.  If there isn't a larger venue to see our favorite Portland-y clowns, I will definitely brave the craziness again though.  It is worth it.
I received an e-mail about the below Portland Youth Philharmonic event this weekend and wanted to pass along the info because it seems like a great toddler activity.  We are taking Pearl on Sunday and I will post a review about it at a later date.

The Portland Youth Philharmonic presents:
March 16, 2014 | OREGON ZOO
TWO SHOWS: 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM
$10 Adult/$5 Child (Free for children under 2 years)
Indoor Concert. Zoo Ticket Not Required.

This Sunday, take your family on a fun, musical adventure! Just hop on the MAX train and bring your little ones and your comfy cushions to this affordable, interactive, 45-minute concert designed for children aged 2-8.  Arrive a half-hour before each performance to experience our “instrument petting zoo” and try instruments in the string family.  Young String Ensemble conducted by Carol Sindell.


  1. I used to take the girls I nannied to see Olive and Dingo and they (and I ) loved them! :-)

  2. I love Cafe Au Play but have never been for a music event. It is so packed on just a regular day, I can only imagine how crowded it must be for a show. The event on Sunday looks fun. I wish we could go but it's right in lil man's nap time, so it probably won't work out ;(

  3. i just booked Cafe au Play for Henri's birthday party in a couple weeks. i'm excited to check it out!


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