Bounce It

As a 34-year-old woman not in a maternal role, I've spent many years playing spectator to the game of child appeasement. Stress-addled parents everywhere are racking up huge credit card balances to throw growingly elaborate kiddy soirees.

But one expensive party trick is pretty damn fun for both the little ones and adults, the inflatable bouncing tents known today as Moonwalks.

Bartender and hostess-with-the-mostest Joanne Silvera has made a point of renting Moonwalks at her semimonthly shindigs. Joanne's most recent party, an Easter Sunday fest, took place at her Sulphur Springs hippie estate on the banks of the Hillsborough River. In attendance were grownup and young punk rockers, artists, writers and slackers, all basking in the piney old-Florida environs, making easy conversation and enjoying a mellow vibe.

The 15-by-15-foot Moonwalk she rented became the event's festive centerpiece, providing all the parents a way to keep their youngsters busy while socializing. Throughout the day, one parent would volunteer to play chaperone as the little ones pogoed in the pneumatic contraption. The dinosaur tent (we thought it looked more like a dragon) had a head at the top, tongue sticking out (hence, dragon!) and claws at the base. Its head bounced up and down in time to the tunes of DJ Kalani and local band Bite Size, providing bonus visual entertainment for cannabis users.

The tents do need chaperoning — that cannot be emphasized enough — as older kids will shake the netting on the sides, causing the tent to sway. A 13-year-old kid at Joanne's shook the tent so hard he caused a little one to run out crying.

Later on, when most of the parents took their kids home, tipsy adults took to the tent. I gave it a try, realizing that my head was rocked as well as my body. You see, the Moonwalk is not a trampoline. It's filled with air, not springs, so the more you weigh the more resistance you have from being bounced. You've got to put legwork into it, and believe you me, unlike with the kids, it doesn't take adults long to get winded.

A friend and I discussed how gyms should install Moonwalks — a fitness breakthrough sure to beat step aerobics in the fun department. Imagine, an infomercial boasting bouncing celebrities. You read it here first.

With kids and adults, the fun of the Moonwalk has more to do with silly abandon than thrills. It's a low-maintenance kid distracter and reminder of simple childhood joy.

Joanne Silvera rented her, um, dinosaur tent from Moon Man Enterprises in Tampa, which services the entire Bay area. The company also rents tents in the shape of monster trucks, dragons and sea animals. Most tents cost $115 to rent for an entire day. Advance notice is recommended, but it's possible to get away with one day's notice. Call Moon Man Jerry Salyer at 813-631-8205.