These Days, Techno Defines Dublin

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Forget the careworn clichés of green beer and milk stout - there’s a colourful revolution underway in the Irish capital’s nightlife.

Dublin of course remains ground zero of the global debauch that is St Patrick’s Day. But what’s much more interesting about this hyper-mythologised city is that it’s in the midst of a techno music boom. A genre that emerged from the hard-edged streets of Detroit in the 1980s may not be synonymous with Ireland, but the energetic, open-minded capital has a long-standing relationship with underground dance music. If you don’t believe us, check out James Redmond’s recent film Notes on Rave in Dublin

Warehouse and beach raves were prominent all over Ireland in the 1990s, before things went a bit quiet at the turn of the century. When the world’s economy nosedived in 2008, Ireland was severely affected. A lot of the country’s young creative people emigrated and disposable income dried up. Not the best conditions for creating a culture of losing it on the dancefloor to hard-edged beats... Or was it?

Local promoters such as the Bodytonic crew persevered and continued to start new ventures like the quaint Bernard Shaw and the Twisted Pepper, which attracted world-famous DJs Ben Klock and Jeff Mills to play, keeping the scene alive.

Martin Smith of Archetype, who promote festivals Life and Beatyard as well as running District 8, struggled to put his finger on why techno has exploded in recent years, but recounted one specific moment which convinced him that big-room techno would work.

“There’s always been a healthy techno scene in Dublin,” he says. “For me, the turning point came in 2014 when I was in Cork doing meetings in relation to Life festival. I was in the hotel with the TV on in the background, playing the top 20 hits. I couldn’t believe the amount of dance tracks in the top ten. And I remember thinking, ‘This is going to change things again.’”

As the recession receded, Dublin’s creatives stuck around, and gradually new venues and club nights cropped up. The proliferation of festivals and the easy availability of music online has perked interest. Also, as Smith puts it, Irish people love a party, and artists generally tend to love the passionate and knowledgeable crowds here, always down for a good time and going for it.

For a city of just one million inhabitants, there’s an amazing amount of techno nights in Dublin. There’s a flavour of Berlin’s Berghain and London’s Fabric here - but it’s cut with a dash of unique camaraderie among local club goers, particularly over Paddy’s weekend. Just don’t call it blarney.

 


District 8

Having attracted many of the world’s best DJ’s and possessing an elite sound-system coupled with minimalist decor and a big, sweaty dancefloor, District 8 has established itself as the premier venue for techno in Dublin since opening in 2014. On St Patrick’s Day, D8 opens its doors (and surrounding yard) early for an all-day party headlined by Italian duo Tale of Us. Later that evening, local favourites Tinfoil (Sunil Sharpe and DeFeKT) take over proceedings, bringing the heavy BPM well past the midnight hour.

Index

Dublin’s newest club space is already making waves. Located close to the quays on the north side of the River Liffey and a stone’s throw away from Generator Dublin, the inconspicuous entrance is easily missed. Inside though, the place comes alive. Index has a compact dancefloor and small stage, which is the ideal combination for an intimate connection between the crowd and DJ. There are no airs and graces, just industrial simplicity, good tunes and a banging sound-system. On Paddy’s Eve, Ben Sims brings his energetic mixing and tough funk sound to Index. The Londoner has played Berghain, Fabric and Florida 135 in a 20-year career, so this is a major coup for a club still in its infancy.



Wigwam

When Twisted Pepper closed down in early 2015, a huge void was left for Dublin’s clubbers. A favourite venue of Ben Klock’s, many experienced their first taste of techno inside the hallowed walls. Fortunately, the owners reopened under a new guise in the same building later that year. Wigwam doubles up as a daytime bar serving quality cocktails or coffee, and a weekend club for an older crowd. The famous Twisted Pepper basement has been retained, decorated with disco balls hanging from its low ceiling. There’s a warmth and glow felt just entering the doors and a reverence for those who blazed the trail before. This Paddy’s Day, Canada’s Jayda G drops by to play an eclectic mix of records from her extensive vinyl collection, so there’ll be plenty of twilight boogieing for those who make it down.

Wah Wah Club

Formerly residing in the Grand Social on the banks of the Liffey, Wah Wah has transferred to a new location on South William Street. This week, Joe Goddard of Hot Chip fame plays a set ahead of his new record release, with plenty more hot names expected the rest of the year.

Button Factory


Tucked away in Temple Bar, the Button Factory is an antidote to the largely overpriced and gimmicky bars dotted around the surrounding area. Containing a big dancefloor and an excellent sound-system, it's located smack in the middle of town. This Paddy’s Eve, legendary trance proponent Sasha pops by for a three-hour set guaranteed to appeal to young and old.


Higher Vision Festival


For those willing to travel, the inaugural Higher Vision Festival takes place an hour outside the city in County Louth. Run by the ever-reliable Strictly Deep and Building Society crews, the lads have attracted a stellar lineup for the first staging. The likes of Ejeca, Dimitri From Paris, Denis Sulta, Josh Butler, FJAAK and Julio Bashmore will entertain the masses deep in the picturesque woodlands of Bellurgan Park at a BYOB event. Definitely one not to be missed for the ardent raver.

Opium Rooms



The Opium Rooms, located on Camden street, has a killer bar/smoking area (pictured). It also has three separate dancefloors, each supplying a different kind of banging tune.

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