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Loud and proud

Having conceived the Mother club nights nearly a decade ago, Cormac Cashman has gained more than his fair share of knowledge about LGBT culture throughout Dublin and beyond. He talks to Peter McGoran about top clubs, unique exhibition­s, and why Pride 2019

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You might not know the man by his face alone, but if you’ve found yourself at some of Dublin’s best club nights these past few years, chances are that Cormac Cashman was the reason you were there.

Having helped establish the club and events company Mother back in 2010,

Cormac has been at the forefront of clubbing in Dublin for years and has watched the

LGBT scene burgeon in the last decade.

“I’ll start with clubs,” he tells us as he sits down for a chat with Best Of Ireland.

“I’m a narcissist, so of course I’ll mention Mother, which takes place on Saturdays, and Sweatbox, which takes place on Fridays – both at The Hub.”

Mother is characteri­sed as an old school club night – in the best possible sense, we might add – for gays and their friends. The focus is on “music and good times”, rather than pretentiou­s lighting effects. The music policy is electronic, synth and all things disco, with DJs Ghostboy and Kelly Anne Byrne to the fore. Sweatbox, meanwhile, has been described as “Dublin’s best house music sweat den”, with guest DJs like Eddie Kay and Reveller alongside regulars like Paddy Scahill, DJ Karen Reddy and Audio Pilots. Both are at 23 Eustace St. (Check motherclub.ie and facebook.com/sweatboxdu­b).

Cormac also mentions a few well establishe­d gay favourites.

“PantiBar (7-8 Capel St; pantibar.com) is really great for a pint,” he says. “It has a real community feel and everyone is really friendly and welcoming. On the south side, you have to check out The George (89 South Great George’s Street; Tel: 01 478 2983, george.ie). Everyone knows The George – it is iconic in terms of the gay scene in Dublin – and it’s a consistent­ly great place.”

The George styes itself as The Heart of Gay Ireland – which is probably fair enough. The Sunday Bingo with Shirley Temple Bar is legendary, while theres’s lots of drag shows and contests, as well as club nights that go on into the we small hours. With DJ Devina Devine on the decks and glitterati dancers, Glitter Bomb on Friday nights is suitably OTT if that takes your fancy.

CLUBS FOR ALL SEASONS

Cormac highlights a couple of other club nights that are well worth checking out.

“Sunday Social in Farrier & Draper (South William St; Tel: 087 756 9916) is great. Likewise Bukkake in Opium (26 Wicklow St; opium.ie). So, in terms of clubbing and bars, in Dublin right now, there’s a wide choice for LGBT people to go out.”

Cormac also notes that there’s a range of unique exhibition­s and creative spaces for LGBT people in the capital.

“Spicebag (facebook.com/pg/

spice bag performanc­e night) should always get a mention,” he says.

In a classic t of minimalist understate­ment, Spicebag – founded by Stephen Quinn and the ame-haired Saragh Devereaux (aka The Dirtbird) – describes itself as “a queer performanc­e night and dance party for succulent mis ts, fabulous amers, dazzling dykes, trans celestial travellers, bisexual bikers, asexual agony aunts, cock goblins, hoop trolls, Nadine Coyle, that chicken llet roll from last night you woke up with on your pillow.”

“It’s a fun and different night out,” Cormac laughs. “I really love it and it’s made a big impression on the scene. In layperson’s terms, it’s a variety show, hosted by these two comic geniuses. And you’d have a line-up of creative people which changes all the time. So for one event, there might be an opera singer, then at another there might be a performanc­e piece, or a dancer. Or there’ll be poetry or spoken word. It’s a real collective–a mish-mash of interestin­g queerness and creative brilliance. It’s also hosted in the Dublin Working Man’s Club (which is in a lane off Capel Street), so it’s also different to your normal set-up.”

Cormac also bigs up GlitterHOL­E (facebook. com/ glitter hole dublin )– which is“a DIY drag collective, a queer performanc­e space and a bit of a laugh” with events in Jigsaw, 10 Belvedere Court; Club Comfort (facebook. com/cclubcomfo­rt), a monthly Dublinbase­d “party and spiritual community”; and Trans Live Art Saloon (facebook.com/ trans live art saloon )– a collective of trans and gender non-conforming artists, based in Dublin, establishe­d in 2016 to – among other things – “elevate trans voices in art and the media, and to change narratives around trans folk.”

“They’re all fantastic, unique events,” Cormac says.

THRIVING OUTSIDE DUBLIN

Cormac notes that the LGBT scene is thriving throughout Ireland. Even in rural areas, things have improved hugely. And the same goes for Northern Ireland despite the fact that gay rights continue to be limited and same sex marriage remains illegal, as a result of religious conservati­sm and the DUP’s current dominance over the political agenda.

“There’s a lot of great places throughout Ireland with thriving LGBT scenes,” says Cormac. “I think it’s important that we look beyond Dublin, because it’s in the smaller cities, and in the rural areas and around the country that queer spaces can become the most vulnerable. Often times, queer venues are the rst to close in these areas, and that can have a real effect on LGBT people who live there.

“As you can imagine, I haven’t been everywhere in Ireland, but I have been to some really great places in recent years. I’m thinking of Maverick (1 Union St; Tel: 0044 289094 2049) in Belfast; and Club Gass in the Roisin Dubh (9 Dominick St Upper; Tel: 091 586 540) in Galway.”

Maverick is in Belfasts’s Queer Quarter, and was billed as “a radical alternativ­e” when it opened. Sunday Service is a big night of drag cabaret, comedy and karaoke; and Wednesdays sees “bearded beauty” Ross lead a ‘hairoke’ session in high heels.

The Gay Quarter is located in the city’s Smith eld and Union Quarter area, north of the city centre, on the edge of the Cathedral Quarter, with Kremlin (96 Donegall St.) and Union Street Bar (8-14 Union Street) among the essential stop-offs.

“There’s also a really thriving scene at the moment in Cork, with a lot of great nights there.”

It’s worth checking out Chambers Bar, Washington Street, which is open late from Wednesday to Sunday. They do themed nights, drag shows and lots more besides. And The Loft, Connell Street, close to Lapps Quay, is also mentioned in dispatches.

AN UN TOLD STORY

Here at Best Of Ireland, we’re also looking ahead to perhaps the biggest ever Pride in Dublin (June 20-29) this year. Cormac Cashman emphasises that this annual event is still a vitally important date, in terms of understand­ing and celebratin­g the LGBT community.

“Pride is still a statement of visibility and respect,” he re ects. “It’s about continuing to echo the marches of the past and rememberin­g the reason why this was such an important event. The marriage referendum showed us that the majority of Irish people have our back, but I’d also like to say that we need to remember how important trans rights are at this time. That’s going to be a focus in the years to come.”

Cormac Cashman will play a big part in making this year’s Dublin Pride an even bigger occasion.

“For the Mother Block Party this year, we’ve managed to secure Collins Barracks (Arran Quay; museum.ie) for our venue,” he reveals. “It’s a real upgrade on our previous venue. We’ve been running the party for nine years now and it’s just grown to a festival-sized event. We’ve got such a solid line-up this year as well, with the likes of Pillow Queens, Daithí and MØ. I’m really happy with it. And we’ve got such an historic site as well. I’ve been going to Collins Barracks since I was a kid and I have so many memories of it, so it means a lot to me to think that we’re going to be hosting a really big LGBT party there. The city’s going to come alive this year – I can’t wait for everyone to come along and join us.”

Meanzwhile, for those looking to learn more about LGBT culture and history in Dublin, Cormac shares a few recommenda­tions.

“The queer legend that is Tonie Walsh does a really great walking tour called An Untold Story (Airbnb.ie/experience­s/64516), which takes people through the social, cultural and political life of LGBT Dublin.

“Then you have GCN – Gay Community

News magazine – which is a free magazine available in all gay bars here across the city. It usually has listings for queer stuff going on throughout the city. You’d also have Outhouse (105 Capel St; Tel: 01 873 4932; outhouse.ie) which is a Community Resource Centre for LGBT people. There’s a café as part of it as well – and there’s a really rich history there!”

“There’s a lot of great places throughout Ireland with thriving LGBT scenes.”

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CORMAC C ASHMAN

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