Saturday 21 September 2019

Welcome to the one-year-old club

Hip-hop producer DJ Khaled celebrating his son Asahd's first birthday
Hip-hop producer DJ Khaled celebrating his son Asahd's first birthday
Sumptuous: The Stella Cinema in all its art deco glory
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

We all knew a bouncy castle and a piñata wasn't going to cut the mustard when Asahd Tuck Khaled, the son of American hip-hop producer DJ Khaled, celebrated his first birthday.

After all, this is the toddler who has 1.6 million followers on Instagram, who wore a $2,000 custom-made Gucci suit to the VMAs in August, and who was named executive producer on his father's latest album when he was just four months old (apparently he knows a catchy hook when he hears it).

Then again, nobody could quite have predicted the level of lavishness that was bestowed on little Asahd either.

The birthday boy blew out his first candle in style last weekend at a jungle-themed birthday party in LIV nightclub in Miami, where festivities included a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' by Sean 'Diddy' Combs, a visit from a real-life lion cub and a selection of luxury toy cars for smaller guests to negotiate the dance floor on.

Asahd, meanwhile, sat on a golden throne, surveying his vast kingdom while wearing a crown with considerable ease.

There was also a regal theme of sorts at the recent christening of Conor McGregor's first-born son, Conor Junior. The UFC star and his long-term partner Dee Devlin turned Luttrellstown Castle - where David and Victoria Beckham got married - into 'Mac Land', a colourful outdoor carnival where a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and petting zoo kept guests entertained. Father and son weren't wearing matching suits on the day, but they aren't averse to Mini-Me fashion, or indeed a tailor-made, infant-sized David August three-piece.

The common denominator here is of course money, coupled with Precious First-born Syndrome. Khaled and McGregor are infatuated first-time fathers, wonderstruck by the miracle of birth, and rich enough to celebrate every moment of it.

And while the photographs of their children's parties are partly designed to make the rest of us gasp at the pomp and ceremony - as we of course do - they also know that most modern parents can slightly relate to the excess.

Granted, most parents don't have gardens big enough to fit a Ferris wheel, let alone the finances to hire one.

Likewise, few of them could claim to have P Diddy on speed dial... or even Dickie Rock for that matter.

However, what most parents do have in common with Khaled and McGregor, irrespective of their financial circumstances, is a child-centric ideology that puts the whims and fancies of the child way ahead of the needs and desires of the parent.

While Mac Land is a fantasy that few parents could afford, most of them would have to concede that christenings, communions and children's birthday parties are becoming more and more extravagant, not to mention Halloween and Christmas.

There was a time when a black sack could be fashioned into at least seven different Halloween costumes, as anyone who dressed up as a witch half a dozen times during the '80s will attest. These days, children are often decked out in elaborate, shop-bought costumes.

Similarly, there was a time when a child was doing well to get a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day. Nowadays, parents almost feel obligated to add Christmas Eve pyjamas and reindeer onesies to the never-ending festive shopping list.

Indeed, most parents today will admit to spending more on their children's clothes than they do on their own clothes, just as they'll admit that they are willing to go into debt to fund their child's increasing array of extra-curricular activities.

We may look at celebrity parents like McGregor and Khaled and wonder how they can justify that level of excess, but make no mistake, parents of an older and more economical generation look at our generation and think precisely the same thing.

Bringing 'The Stella' back to its former glory

Meticulous is the only word that can be used to describe the restoration of the Stella Cinema in Dublin's Rathmines, which finally throws open its doors on Tuesday.

The landmark building, which originally opened in 1923, has been painstakingly brought back to its former Art Deco glory and, according to Ronan Higham, the MD of Pure Fit Out, no detail has been spared.

"There is not one item in that entire building that can be bought off the shelf," he explains when we speak a couple of days after the big reveal. "Absolutely nothing that you could go out and buy."

The fittings, which include an ornate bronze-and-mahogany bar and plush red-velvet wrap-around armchairs and day-beds, were all made by hand in the Pure Fit Out workshop, while the Art Deco lamps, mirrors and accessories were sourced from all over the world by O Donnell O Neill Design.

"It's been reported by a few places that the original ceiling mouldings were replaced," adds Higham, "but they were actually restored by a specialist who worked on it from February until last week." What was left of the original façade was also uncovered, as was the mosaic tiling of the original Stella logo and an Art Deco handrail that guides guests to the first-floor balcony.

The Stella Theatre now comprises the auditorium, the Stella Cocktail Club, which overlooks Rathmines main street, and the Refreshments Bar in the foyer. And yes, you can order cocktails and food to your cinema seat.

The dilapidated cinema was bought two years ago by the Press Up Group, which owns the Dean Hotel and a number of buzzy restaurants and bars in the capital. There was some heated discussion at the time about the heritage of this iconic building and the responsibility to preserve it.

This stunning renovation has emphatically put paid to any doubts.


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