Waving Goodbye To 437 Irish Nightclubs: What’s Happening To Our Nightlife?

Since 2000 there has been an 84% drop in nightclubs.

 

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When nightclubs first opened after lockdown, it was practically a national celebration. Sold out tickets and lines as long as the Shannon. So it’s hard to believe that the industry is in peril. But that seems to be the case.

Give Us the Night, a volunteer group that campaigns for positive changes in the Irish nightclub industry, revealed that since the year 2000, 84% of nightclubs have closed their doors. With there being over 500 venues in 2000 to around just 85 nationwide today.

“There were a total of 522 dance venues across Ireland in the year 2000*, with 100 in Dublin, compared to about 85 across the country today. The average number of venues per county has dropped from 19 to about three, with some now at zero.” they told The Sunday Times.

Fans of the nightclub scene were greatly upset by the news.

While the situation over the past two decades was grim, the pandemic also harshly impacted the industry. Prior to the pandemic, there were approximately 95 venues in the country. But following lockdowns when venues were forced to close theirs, many were unable to reopen, with around only 85 nightclubs in the country today.

 

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While the figures are news to most, the situation isn’t. Nearly everyone could name a beloved club that’s closed its doors for good. Be it a venue from their youth or a current hotspot. This decline can be seen in real-time.

Even one of Galway’s most iconic nightclubs, Electric, announced they were shutting down recently. After 30 years of business, during which they gathered a heap of loyal customers, they were forced to close due to “the licencing situation/nightlife economy.”

Fans of the famous club took to Twitter to share their sadness at the situation.

So what exactly is causing all of the closures? Well, according to Give Us the Night it has a lot to do with the “licensing situation,” Electric referred to in their closure announcement.

They explain that Ireland has some of the strictest regulations and licensing systems in the world. Pointing out how most countries have nightclubs open from 6pm to 6am, whereas here, doors are generally closed around 1am or 2am. Something they believe is hindering our nightlife industry.

Regulations also vary from county to county, making it challenging to install initiatives to enhance nightlife nationwide.

The also call out The Special Exemption Order (SEO), a licence that is required to open and serve alcohol past typical closing times for events. It is obtained from the District Court and costs €410 per night.

Clubs must also obtain a dance licence, which no, doesn’t actually require a dance theory and dance test. It’s actually a permit for dance venues that is also obtained from the District Court. That is on top of a music licence and alcohol licence.

 

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So what exactly can be done? Give Us the Night is campaigning for the abolishment of SEOs, and reforms to the licensing system.

They are also calling for a Night Mayor. While that might sound like a villain Batman would fight, it is actually a liaison for the nightlife industry, who would work with the Lord Mayor of that city, the city council, An Garda Síochána, venue operators, and event programmers.

Many cities across the world actually already have Night Mayors like Paris, London, Amsterdam, and New York.

Words by Sláine McKenna
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