A second chance in the limelight

Posted 2 months ago in More

Photographer Jasmin Doyle spent the last few months checking out the burgeoning new breed of club collectives in the city.

The events I’ve captured take place in multiple clubs over the various events that were presented across the city, organised by creative collectives who range from visual artists to musicians, who have been on the frontline to witness the dwindling culture of Dublin. It is these collectives’ mission to not only bring a new form of nightlife but also a new form of world. Enhancing Dublin’s rare features of social beauty, the hot topic of conversation is not settling for less but wanting more. With the 6am licensing laws for club venues and keeping bars open past their usual time, a fighting cause to join the rest of Europe’s night life era begins with the emerging voices of each collective.

Dublin has slowly changed from the image it once presented by slowly revealing a sense of vulnerability. It strikes an unlikely impression at first but makes more sense in terms of how far society has changed and grown in a decade. We may have lost venues and spaces to party but gained an understanding and respect for the people around us. This newly ageing society makes it imperative that these spaces be restored.

Honeypot, a collective primarily focusing on a safe space for WLW (Women Loving Women), is run by partners in crime Emma Murphy and Kerry Mahony who saw a window of opportunity to create this safe haven for women. It all began back in college for these two gals when they were presented with LGBT spaces but not in the way they had hoped or imagined it to be, as the ratio of men greatly outweighed women. Kerry explains, “I think we would always assume if you were like going to a gay night out, there were always going to be gay men like that was just normal. And like we got used to it too, it was just always the way even on gay nights abroad, it was just more targeted towards queer men and more male dominated.” In a passing conversation, a light bulb moment came to effect.“It wasn’t until April of this year, we were talking to a friend, about it and she encouraged us by implying that ‘anyone can do it’ so that’s exactly what we did.’” With Kerry’s experience in advertising and Emma’s contacts within the techno world, the two combined became a perfect recipe in the initiation of their burgeoning Dublin collective.

On the 15th of July this summer, Honeypot’s launch event was happening in The Sound House, one of the few venues Dublin had to offer. As I ventured within the grounds on my own accord it wasn’t long until I found familiar faces from the LGBTQ+ scene that automatically assured me it was going to be a good night. As the lights began to flicker and music began to play, the semi-empty venue slowly began to fill with an audience who sought a night of amusement and pleasure. People filled the once empty floor with curiosity to see what the night would bring. Peering through the crowd of women loving women I spotted Emma on the decks, hypnotising the crowd with a steady techno beat as it flowed through the crowd. Turning around, I saw Kerry checking in on the crowd, a modern day roaring 20s as one can imagine, and she was “the embodiment of the enigmatic Gatsby ball.” They outdid themselves with a sold-out launch night, and it was my opportunity to capture the moment.

Five days later, a Cowboy and Alien themed club night resided at The Sound House for one night only designed by another emerging club collective called Rathaus. “Rathaus” being a direct translation in German meaning town-hall, represents itself as a conglomeration of individuals that initialise a space for people who are alike. Berlin inspired its creators Kenya Dempsey and Michal Mencnarowski. As passing summer thoughts go, they witnessed how people abroad spent their time when it came to partying and wanting to change things at home. They saw an opportunity to create a space. In the club scene, masquerade balls that are interpreted according to one’s fantasies play a significant role and Rathaus gave me this first impression. Both Michal and Kenya imply that, “it’s for anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, racial or sex identity.” In recent years, Dublin’s nightlife is gradually beginning to erase the social stigma between certain groups. Having said that, Michal points out that “despite the fact that Ireland is often seen as a progressive country, we still have a lot to do.”

“a fighting cause to join the rest of Europe’s night life era begins with the emerging voices of each collective”

It is evident in our attitudes towards nightlife, partying, and sex that we are burdened with guilt from Catholicism. A lot of people don’t realise that night clubs provide a sense of community, especially for minority groups. “The dance floor is one of the few places where a person can experience such liberation within themselves whilst among others,” Michael explains. As far as escapism goes, a night out in the town is an ideal remedy for forgetting the daily struggles we all take part in. An important factor for a perfect night out is a place where you can really just let loose. I’ve always been drawn to the dance floor. Imagine standing in a club’s smoking area with five or six people, in search of a working heat lamp. Sharing a smoke or scabbing a rollie with a stranger allows you to pay attention to the world around you. Slowly you begin to tune out of the conversation at hand. The DJ is playing. Hearing the muffled bass beat crescendo, you suddenly realise it’s one of your favourite songs. It sparks an adrenaline rush within you. As you suddenly make eye contact with someone who shares the same love for the song, you both begin to race to the dance floor. You both will hear the peak of the song drop. From the harsh cold outside to the musty interior, a euphoric sensation occurs. This is because you lose all inhibitions once you’re on the floor. You finally feel free. Highlighting the importance of being in a safe space, I can be comfortable feeling this excitement and liberation. The basis of a night out that we’ve forgotten because of other social dramas is this. We should be reminded of that feeling in a place that can bring the most unassuming individuals together. Whatever type of music you choose, it’s sure to linger throughout the different halls and stairways of the building, whether it’s cheesy Noughties music or dark techno. It is within earshot for one to follow.

The creators of the collective are determined to achieve this goal. “Rathaus is a place where everyone is respected and accepted for who they are. We are inspired by liberated Berlin nightlife with its zero-tolerance attitude towards discrimination and judgment.”

Although these newly formed collectives are gaining popularity by the week, they would not be possible without late-night bars and nightclubs. The Workman’s Club was established more than 12 years ago and is renowned for its madness and mayhem in every way possible. Accommodating newly formed clubs, such as the Loose Tooth Dental Club, and supporting their growth, it has jacked up chequered floors that spread across its four floors and reach the terrace where you become immersed in a crowded pit that is imprisoned by colourful, but non-functioning doors. Its grimy Alice in Wonderland-esque charm seems a fitting spot for collectives to show what they can contribute. Newcomers to the industry are at the centre of much of what it’s about. These collectives are essential to maintaining the spark, but also to establishing the foundation that is essential to the success of Dublin nightlife.

“Nightclubs provide a sense of community, especially for minority groups. The dance floor is one of the few places disconnected from the outside world where we are all equal and can forget about the bullshit, we face day to day”

Dublin Modular, run by Tadhg Kinsella and Niall O’Grady, is no ordinary collective, but one that stands out for its support of emerging creatives. Using a variety of facilities, including Pallas Studios, this collective offers workshops, events, and yard parties. Although these parties are far from the traditional aspects of a club, they certainly present the city in a different way. I was unsure what the Modular event would be like as I entered on my own accord on the 5th of September. However, the laid-back atmosphere soon swept me off my feet, as reggae-ton began to play. I became fully immersed in the yard as it transformed into another world. As I recall speaking to Tadgh and Niall about their BYOB events, most of the crowds seem to arrive sober, but mostly just come for the freedom of dancing freely. Everyone is friendly, and there are no airs or graces. This is what makes the event such a successful platform for people to chat, bond, have fun, and get to know each other.

The crowd seemed to desire those things, as creative individuals slowly found meaningful connections and found a community. This event helped participants gain a better understanding of what the collective’s main initiatives are about. “Our goal is to create a comfortable environment for artists, as well as a place where they can learn more about the many opportunities in Dublin.” By bringing together as many individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures in the Greater Dublin area and throughout Ireland, Niall and Tadhg hope to reach out to those who need a shot in the dark. “There is nothing more enjoyable than playing with each other and listening to one another. The work environment is more like a family.”

Over the past two and a half years, Covid-19 has impacted many lives and many industries, leaving Dublin’s nightlife culture in a strange limbo state. Previously stuck in a loop of old traditions, Dublin nightlife found itself newly inherited by a younger generation once it emerged from its two-year slumber. While each of these collectives built their reputations, I learned about Thrust Collective who are a group of seven individuals creating innovative experiences through various mediums including themed-party club nights. Run by artists Jordan Cassidy, Ben Harte, Kevin Donnelly, and Luka Texiera, DJs Aoife Keane (Sohotsospicy), Daniel O’ Brien (Gun Emoji) and Ethan Begley Hughes (Glimmerman). Like many, Thrust was inspired to level up the club scene because of the lack of vibrancy in clubs and the shutting down of their favourite haunts. “Our first club night was 30th January 2019, pre-pandemic and post the closing down of beloved Hangar and District 8 which led to the creation of our own club night, as no venue or club was catching the attention of us as 19/20-year-olds,” says Ben Harte. Thrust Collective values not only the party lifestyle but the art behind it, fully immersing attendees into a new world with every theme. “Considering not just the element of music but how we can put our artistic abilities to use. We knew our audience and how we wanted to include them which led to the idea of having themed nights which allowed our audience to get involved by dressing up relative to the theme.” It seems like collectives’ visions, especially Thrust’s, expand further than just drinks on a night out and truly just envision a combination of things to bring back heart and culture with creative connections.

Thrust Collective’s mission now is to naturally expand the collective as a powerhouse, delving into other artistic mediums. “After having collectively decided on a theme and party name, our art team creates promotional material for the installations. Our music team works on a set that incorporates music styles related to the theme they’re trying to convey. This includes examples from corporate soirees such as their most recent Bebo themed event. “We like to think we don’t fit into either of those boxes and offer a fully immersive experience that appeals to the multiple senses of our audience in Dublin.”

Ben summarises what all collectives’ goals are, to bring back the good life, especially for young people. As it’s an obvious statement that we have been stripped of so many of our choices. There is a rising scale of people our age, or within our social circles, emigrating to anywhere that they will feel both seen and heard, to the likes of London and Berlin. The challenge at hand is that it has now become an essential duty to take action and combat this. Correlating alongside other Irish collectives, Thrust has a main objective in wanting to live up to our country’s reputation for music, dance, art, humour and nightlife. Harte lists a few honourable mentions: “You can see with other collectives such as Loose Tooth Dental Club, Rathaus, Korpse Éire, Club Comfort, Crane Club and Honeypot, that they have all been major contributors to keeping the city breathing and are continuing to do so immaculately.”

For eight years, the club Lumo has aspired to create events that were enthrallingly eclectic, experimenting with a wide range of music genres and uniting a broad cross-section of people from all walks of life. Run by Niall Byrne (Nialler9), Simon Roche and Gavin Elsted, their fundamental ethos is simple: do it like it’s a party in someone’s house.

“These collectives are essential to maintaining the spark, but also to establishing the foundation that is essential to the success of Dublin nightlife.”

The club event originated while the trio were on a trip to London during their college years. They ended up at Heaven , and felt themselves transported to another world. “There was a catwalk,” Niall says. “People were so dressed up. There were beds on one floor too. But the spectacle and size of it was head melting.” More than anything, he was captivated by the venue’s soundtrack, he says. “Dancing to a flow of music rather than a pre-ordained set of songs was a revelation.”

Even though they gained a newfound love for what club nights had to offer from aboard, Dublin was a place of introduction in terms of clubbing, through the enduring likes of Bodytonic who hosted Optimo, and the sadly departed Together Disco, these events have been a huge influence on what Niall and the lads do as a whole. “Hearing Erotic City by Prince mixed into Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush at a TD night and seeing a full dance floor explode in the same way you’d expect at a house or techno party was a real eye-opener in terms of what could be done in the confines of a club. Having experiences like that shaped what we set out to contribute to club culture in the city.”

Throughout this six-month process of exploration within Dublin’s cities nightlife, a battle finally ended on October 25th when the government officially revealed their plan to axe Ireland’s old-fashioned alcohol laws as a means to resuscitate an industry that is “dying on its feet” with new modern regulations called the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022. This, in turn, gives leeway to both club venues and pubs opening /closing hours. This new legislation allows pubs to open from 10.30 am to 12.30am, seven days a week and late bars until 2.30am every night. Special nightclub permits will also be issued which will enable people to party until 6am, 364 days of the year with the exemption of Christmas Day. This news has given hope to the many collectives I have reached out during this period of writing this piece. As Jake Flynn (aka Formorian Vein) from Bitten Twice collective expresses his views on the matter, “I welcome them entirely and they’re long overdue given the length and depth of the work done to get it in place. To create economic benefits for the city, the domino effect of art spaces was crucial.”

Dublin has a long way to go before reemerging to stardom once again. Its bohemian nature is infectious, spreading throughout the niche assemblies that interlink together. The oppression we experienced throughout the past two years has given the creative scene a purpose. Instead of competing and remaining inclusive we have realised that to give Dublin a new and brighter future we must come together and work towards that goal. It is a choice that has been subconsciously chosen by the majority. The new legislation that will be placed in the new year has given the green light to collectives to make this city proud once again.

Words and pictures: Jasmin Doyle

The fourth edition of Honeypot takes place on Friday Dec 2nd


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