Comment Editor Katie Larkin explores the rise of techno culture and how it is contributing to changing the Dublin nightlife scene.
The nightlife scene in Ireland is constantly changing, with a variety of nightclubs and genres being introduced and adapted. The country was once home to one of the loudest and exciting night scenes in Europe; but the fall of the 2010’s has impacted this greatly, with the number of nightclubs across Ireland experiencing a sharp decline. However, there are small glimmers of hope on the horizon for nightlife in Ireland and Dublin in particular. This can be credited to the variety of cultures and genres innovating the capital’s nightlife scene.
Techno music has been around since the early 1980’s. Hailing from the basements of Detroit, United States and crossing the Atlantic to Frankfurt, Germany, techno is a type of electronic dance music, characterised by its repetition and rhythmic beats. Beyond the musical genre, there is a distinct club culture that has become synonymous with techno music and has garnered notoriety across German cities - notably in Berlin. You’ve definitely heard of nightclubs such as Berghain and KitKat that have gained international reputation for their exclusive techno scene and subversiveness. In time, techno has become much more than just a type of music; it has become a subculture that brings people together in an alternative and underground nightlife.
In time, techno has become much more than just a type of music; it has become a subculture that brings people together in an alternative and underground nightlife.
The spread of techno music from an underground genre to a prominent subculture induced a rave culture, where techno fans can celebrate the music at face value. Furthermore, the increased popularity of techno resulted in the creation of several sub-genres, featuring a variety of forms, beats and attracting wider audiences with varied preferences.
Even beyond its musicality, techno is heavily aligned with strobe lights, smoke, darkness and perhaps raunchy clothing and the consumption of illicit substances. These eccentricities have made techno subcultures seemingly daunting to inexperienced both audiences and nightlife goers.
Even beyond its musicality, techno is heavily aligned with strobe lights, smoke, darkness and perhaps raunchy clothing and the consumption of illicit substances.
Similarly to many European cities, there has been a rise in techno and DJ-centred events in Irish cities, especially Dublin. The Irish capital has a variety of nightclubs dedicated to EDM despite the decline of clubs across the country. Furthermore, Dublin is seeing an increased presence in DJ collectives, as well as bigger crowds interested in an alternative nightlife culture - of which techno is at the forefront.
Speaking to The University Observer, UCD DJ Collective respective member and co-president, Billy Menelaou and Harry McLaughlin, discussed how techno culture has been received in Dublin. They emphasised how techno culture offers a safe space for creative freedom and facilitates self-expression. The stigma surrounding techno as a drug fueled, daunting and even pretentious space is unfounded according to Menelaou and McLaughlin. Indeed, to them, “true” techno culture stands for being immersed in the moment, allowing yourself to fully detach from reality and enjoy the music away from external distractions.
Menelaou and McLaughliun highlighted which techno clubs in the city promote the safety, collaborative and enjoyable culture that techno belongs to. They cited: Yamamori Tengu, The Grand Social, Workman’s Cellar and Here n’ Now.
But is Ireland ready for techno to take over the nightlife scene, as it happened in Germany and around Europe? It seems Ireland has a long way to go to meet the mark: mainstream cultures in Dublin may not enable techno in its purest form, with a large binge drinking culture, early club closing times and lack of individual expression. For example, in Berlin nightclubs, visitors are required to cover their phone cameras upon entering to protect the club experience and encourage people to live in the moment. These types of provisions might not be well received by club goers in Dublin.
Mainstream cultures in Dublin may not enable techno in its purest form, with a large binge drinking culture, early club closing times and lack of individual expression.
Another issue is the early closing time of nightclubs, with all premises to be vacated by 3am. Travelling home safely is made difficult by the lack of taxi availability and the crowded state of night buses. A proposal in legislation to delay nightclubs’ closing time to 6am has been brought to the Government. This measure might encourage less binge drinking, disingorge public transport and discourage uncivil behaviour at busy 3am exit times - whilst also improving the overall nightlife experience for all.
UCD DJ’s collective is dedicated to promoting a safe and collaborative space for people to share, create and enjoy with each other. The DJ community in Dublin is healthy and rising, and UCD DJ collective are contributing to its growth. The collective has only been together since last year, and is encouraging everyone of all backgrounds to get involved in their collaborative efforts and enjoy the night - and hopefully improve it. The group ran several workshops and events where different creators can collaborate and perform their tracks; the next event is scheduled for November 30th in The Grand Social. They can be found at @ucd_djs on instagram.
Dublin’s nightlife is on track to evolve further and generate a new generation and wave of music, subculture and talent. With proposed legislation and open minded people such as Menelaou and McLaughlin, these initiatives can create something brilliant and new to boost the city's night scene.