Throw Away explores Dublin club culture in the 1990s through the fliers which were created on behalf of the clubs, spaces and nights which emerged in this era. Niall McCormack reflects on this “kind of visual psycho-geography of lost spaces and the people who inhabited them.”
“All of the visual tropes of rave culture, and its later descendants, are here: spiritual psychedelia, pop culture re-appropriation, sci-fi futurism, new age primitivism, queer s&m, corporate pastiche, jazz graphics and hip-hop graffiti.”
The purpose and importance of Throw Away goes well beyond providing a thrill of nostalgia, if you were there, or a shock of the old, if it was before your time.
Although both sensations will be engendered by this collection of nightclub flyers, its real significance is as a record of the changing social fabric of nineties Dublin, told through its material detritus.
It acts as a kind of visual psycho-geography of lost spaces and the people who inhabited them. A dérive through a Dublin demi-monde, a window on Nighttown.
The blast of energy and enthusiasm captured in these flyers runs counter to the dominant narrative of pre-Celtic Tiger Dublin, of austerity and endless greyness.
Yes, there was plenty to rail against at the time, but the evidence here suggests that many embraced the mantra ‘party for your right to fight’. Dance as an act of defiance and communal self-actualization.
Most, if not all, of the venues featured here no longer exist. Not replaced with new iterations of nightlife spaces, as would have been the case in previous times, but now filled with corporate offices (The Funnel), hotels (Ormond Multimedia Centre, [Rí-Rá], Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Sides DC, The Tivoli), apartments (The Olympic Ballroom, SFX), retail spaces (McGonagles), vacant property (Columbia Mills) and a hole in the ground (The Temple of Sound).
Spaces of possibility and community surrendered to the invisible hand of the market.
All of the visual tropes of rave culture, and its later descendants, are here: spiritual psychedelia, pop culture re-appropriation, sci-fi futurism, new age primitivism, queer s&m, corporate pastiche, jazz graphics and hip-hop graffiti.
The influence of Emigre and Ray Gun magazines, and of the Designers Republic, Swifty, Junior Tomlin, 8vo, among others, turn up in various forms. While the quality of the design fluctuates wildly, it is possible to discern the complete DNA of today’s acid grafix in these pages.
Ciarán Nugent proves to be an excellent ephemerist, recognising the inherit value in these transient documents and the added power of collecting them into one volume.
Dublin’s nineties club culture may have disappeared from earth, but this book gives us a picture complete enough to reconstruct it.
Words: Niall McCormack
Feature Image: 1995 Garden of Eden – Saints and Sinners