As a children’s disco was held for the final time, an organiser believes social media led to a decline in popularity.
For more than 6,000 youngsters, going to a disco at Euxton Parish Church Community Centre was among the highlights of their week.
“It was really successful for about 10 years - basically until social media started. Numbers started dropping and I think young people stopped coming because they were on Facebook and could talk to their friends in their bedroom.”Hayley Stevens
Dancing and spending time with their friends at the disco created fond childhood memories for many.
But the number of children attending the disco has fallen in recent years, from the peak of 250 a week to just 30 - with social media blamed.
So organisers Hayley and Richard Stevens have decided to bring it to an end.
Hayley said: “We have done it for more than 15 years now and think we have done our bit for Euxton and now’s the time to step back.”
They started in May 2000 when their own children were young.
The couple run children’s entertainment business, Ricardo And The Comet Entertainment, and both work in schools - Hayley as a higher level teaching assistant at Brownedge St Mary’s High School in Bamber Bridge and Richard as a counsellor at Southlands High School in Chorley and Brownedge St Mary’s.
Hayley said: “We were DJing at the time and thought there was nothing for them to do in Euxton, so we started doing a pay-on-the-door disco in Euxton, not as a business but a community thing.
“It completely took off and we even got a sign saying ‘disco full’ which we put out every week.
“It was really successful for about 10 years - basically until social media started.
“Numbers started dropping and I think young people stopped coming because they were on Facebook and could talk to their friends in their bedroom.”
The disco had party dances, song requests, a light display and a tuck shop. Some weeks there was a theme, such as crazy hair or the jungle.
Children would come from all around to attend, including Chorley, Leyland, Preston, Wigan and Bolton.
As the number of people attending started to fall, Hayley and Richard made some changes to the disco.
They changed the age limit from under 14s to under 11s and invited parents to stay.
But it did not lead to an increase in attendance so they decided to bring it to an end.
Hayley said: “We are both really sad. A lot of the parents of the regulars have asked us to keep it going.”
Hayley and Richard ran the disco with their daughters and parents, as well as young volunteers who hoped to work with children.
She says the children’s entertainment business supported it financially.
And Hayley is convinced that social media and children’s changing behaviour led to the decline in attendance at the disco.
She said: “Children don’t need to leave their bedrooms to talk to their friends anymore. They sit there and talk over Facebook or Skype or play games. They don’t have to leave the house.
“I think parents think they are safe because they are at home, they are not getting into trouble, and they don’t have to leave the house to drive them somewhere.
“I believe this generation are going to have problems when they are older because they don’t know how to socialise face to face. It’s a whole generation of different people and the way they communicate and behave is totally different.”
But social media trainer Jane Binnion, of janebinnion.com, said children under 13 cannot use Facebook.
She believes there could be many factors involved, not just the rise in the popularity of social media.
She said: “I think the owner is right to a degree that there has been a cultural change but I also think there has been a change in parental behaviour in being cautious in what we let children do.
“It’s a real shame that it’s closed. Youth clubs and everything are closing and I think there is a real worry that there isn’t much going on for young people.
“But I don’t think that young people who like discos would choose to stay in and use Facebook instead.”
Around 80 children attended the final disco, many wearing fancy dress as there was a Halloween theme.
Hayley said: “I would like to thank everybody who has helped us over the years and all the children who have attended. People have said they have such fabulous memories. We are happy that we have created these wonderful memories for them.”