MUR­DER ON THE DANCE­FLOOR: HOW DRUGS, FES­TI­VALS AND TIN­DER KILLED CLUB CUL­TURE

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Viewpoints - Donal Lynch

THE im­mi­nent clo­sure of Lil­lie’s Bordello is, per­haps, in­evitable in the over­all con­text of the death of the Irish night­club. Over the last decade, the cap­i­tal’s once-vi­brant club scene has given way to a nightlife which is di­vided into pubs — sacro­sanct so­cial spaces that leg­is­la­tors mess with at their peril — and il­le­gal af­ter-par­ties which mop up what’s left of that time­less need to “go on”.

Lil­lie’s was al­ways its own thing — painfully main­stream, crawl­ing with celebrity de­tri­tus — but even the cooler venues of the boom, the likes of The Kitchen and the Pod, now lie ei­ther dor­mant or have been turned into ex­pen­sive cock­tail bars. Hangar, Redz, Tri­pod and Craw­daddy are all gone, too.

Gay clubs, tra­di­tional havens for out­casts and great mu­sic, are now gen­er­ally no­madic one-off pop-ups; in Dublin, only The Ge­orge still stands as a full-time venue. Discos have been turned into cof­fee shops, and an en­tire gen­er­a­tion comes of age with­out know­ing the crush of the queue, and the echo in your ear in the morn­ing.

Ross O’Car­roll-Kelly summed up the feel­ing of mourn­ing when he tweeted: “Club 92 is fol­low­ing Kielys and Renords [sic] into obliv­ion, and I don’t know what to tell my chil­dren any more.”

It’s per­haps easy to blame the hous­ing cri­sis and creep­ing gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of Dublin on the demise of the disco, but it’s just part of a broader trend which has seen clubs slowly go­ing ex­tinct across much of the west­ern world.

In Bri­tain, for the past few years, big names seem to close ev­ery month. Over the last decade, the num­ber of clubs in the Nether­lands has fallen by nearly half. Even Ber­lin — where the night­clubs are seen as high cul­ture — has seen some of its most iconic venues close their doors in re­cent years.

When I lived in Man­hat­tan a decade ago, it al­ready felt like the city’s fa­bled club life had with­ered; the vel­vet ropes, dress codes and hefty bills that had be­come part of club­bing there hav­ing long since ban­ished the cool kids. Even Brook­lyn had be­come a grave­yard for clubs; the con­verted ware­houses and lofts that housed them had been mostly turned into lux­ury con­dos.

Is­sues about venues and spaces are un­doubt­edly part of the trend, but per­haps there are other rea­sons for the death of the club. The bac­cha­na­lian dance tem­ples of the 1990s were fu­elled by ec­stasy, a drug that’s now a bit out of fash­ion among the young, its use steadily fall­ing over the last decade.

Along with the demise of the night­club, the other big mu­sic trend of the last few years has been the rise of out­door mu­sic fes­ti­vals — there were 275 in Bri­tain last year, up from 80 in 2008. Young peo­ple now seem hap­pier to splurge and stay up for three days once a year than go out ev­ery week­end. Fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers ben­e­fit from the mas­sive economies of scale, which en­ables them to book the big­gest DJs.

And, of course, there is the ef­fect of dat­ing apps on an en­tire gen­er­a­tion. “There’s a club if you’d like to go,” Mor­ris­sey sang in How Soon Is Now. “You could meet some­body who re­ally loves you. So you go and you stand on your own. And you leave on your own. And you go home and cry and you want to die.” Ex­cept now you can go home to swipe right on Tin­der, and the whole point of go­ing out seems more dis­tant than ever.

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