Dublin group call for better activities as number of nightclubs decline

by Amy Rohu
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Amy Rohu

Research conducted by advocacy group Give Us The Night has found a dramatic decline in the number of nightclubs in Ireland.

The report, found that the number of nightclubs had fallen by 84% since the year 2000, when there were over 500 nightclubs in the country, now that figure stands at just 85.

The group, which is an independent volunteer group of professionals operating within the night-time industry. are calling for the quality of nightlife in Ireland to be raised to international standards, stating that the industry contributes to both the community and economy in Ireland.

Speaking to The Dublin Gazette, Sunil Sharpe the reason for the decline can be attributed to a number of factors, some to do with technology replacing real-life social engagement, but also to do with increased running costs, not least the huge rise in insurance costs for late-night venues.

He added: “Our government also made it extremely difficult for nightclubs to survive post-millennium, and have penalised them through extortionate licensing costs and overly-restrictive conditions that make it exceptionally hard to turn a profit. It should be noted too how little protection nighttime venues have from demolition or changes of use. Finally Dublin City Council is developing policies to protect and create cultural spaces, that could include music venues, but it this has come very late in the day. So much damage has already been done. It’s better late than never and we really hope that other local authorities will follow as well.”

While the industry suffered during the pandemic, the group has discovered an interesting trend which suggests that the appetite for nightlife, including nightclubs, is at an even bigger level than pre-pandemic.

“Prior to the pandemic, festivals were taking over, and leaving very little for clubs. The appetite for weekly dance events seems to have come back again though, both since our initial reopening in October, and again in January. I do foresee nightlife moving into another gear as soon as licensing laws are changed and closing times extended, which we hope will be by the end of this year. When the business becomes easier for operators and fairer in general, we’ll see more activity and exciting things happening, which will be a win-win for all.”

The group has said they want to do ‘everything they possibly can’ to significantly change nightlife in Ireland, with a more sustainable model for venues and create a more rewarding environment.

“We would like to see a more varied range of events happening at night, for all communities and ages. There are different areas to be addressed and improved, not least around transport and safety, but in general we would just like to see venues and promoters be able to organise their operations in a more flexible manner.

It’s now time for the Government to modernise nightlife. That starts with a radical overhaul of licensing laws and closing times, to enable more nighttime activity. Dublin City is predominantly designed for Monday to Friday office workers, and short-stay tourists. Too many buildings and businesses are closed by the time it gets to the evening and weekends in general. A lot of work needs to be done to make Dublin a truly inclusive city where exciting stuff happens. In a city that lacks footfall at the best of times and which can’t rely on retail like it used to, we have to make culture and entertainment count a lot more.”

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