For a long time, the view of Ireland was of a wet, poor island shoved out on the edge of Europe like some ugly, unwanted member in a family portrait. It was a place of Angela’s Ashes, fornicating priests and that twat Bono. Then suddenly the leprechauns found their gold and partied like it was 1999 for almost ten years straight. It became a place of high-flying international property developers, lavish golfing trips on castle grounds albeit still with the rain and that twat Bono. However the party ended with a bang and an international bailout and while emigration has returned, someone still hasn’t bludgeoned Bono to death, we are not back to being the poor men of Europe and you would be surprised to know that Dublin still has a strong party feel to it.
Locals sigh in a slightly defeatist nature at the lack of choice for gay bars and clubs in Dublin, saying quite rightly there are only two gay clubs and funnily one and a half gay bars, the half which I will get back to. The reasons for such a situation are debatable between years of overlordship by the Catholic church to the relatively small size of the city-centre where nearly all social activities (i.e. drinking) occur in the city. However Dublin, a surprisingly youthful city is not without some great resident clubs catering for gays and certainly a lot of other places that gays have made their own.
For your typical big gay night out, you can’t go wrong with The George. Prior to the legalization of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993 (yeah you heard me right, less than twenty years ago!), this was a small, clandestine, cubby-hole of a bar. But once the Irish government decided bumsex was not such a bad thing, the bar took over the neighboring building and turned itself in to a glammed-up homo temple. Always a safe bet for your generic Rihanna-infused, tranny-loving nights, Sundays are the best bet. Hosted by now TV personality and real-Dub tranny Shirley Temple Bar, Sunday bingo is always a hoot and if you’re lucky you might win a bottle of vodka! The George is generally a more relaxed option than its twin, The Dragon a hundred metres up the road. Bigger than the George, it seems a little bit soulless but its big night is Promo on Thursdays, where all the beefcakes (um, Brazilian and Polish) and not so (us Irish) sweat it out on the dancefloor to some abortion of a remix of some Madonna track.
For a more relaxed option, Dublin has one and a half gay bars. The first is the Front Lounge. Opened as a normal bar with nice, rotating art pieces by notable locals over fifteen years ago, the top part suddenly became inhabited by gays who liked the nice leather seating and décor like good gays do. For a long time the bottom half stayed quite straight but the gays have slowly infested it. The more fun option would be Panti Bar. Eponymously named after its owner, the undisputed queen of drag queens in Dublin, Panti, it feels more like a place to party than the Front Lounge. Add in its many special nights every week and month (don’t miss the fabulous Make and Do).
While at times Dublin’s gay scene can feel as edgy and fun as an Olsen twin smiling, the recession has opened up new options, especially for the horde of young gays who only recently found their mother’s lipstick and Lana del Ray. A good option would be Mother every Saturday night. Located in a small basement bar, it’s all Kate Bush, Roisin Murphy and Human League here, a tightly packed synthfest with a great mixed crowd. It gets great guest DJ’s, from Optimo to especially DFA Records’ based artists such as ShitRobot and Nancy Whang. Also it seems to serve booze that little bit later, to 03.30.
A slightly more interesting option, especially if you like ‘em young, brash and fashionable is CUNT , it is an acronym for C U Next Tuesday and you don’t have to be in MENSA to realize what night this is on. Located in a listed 18th century building, it feels like being at a house party in a stately home on an episode of Skins. It’s brash, crazy and full of the “young wans” as we say in Dublin. The music is as schizophrenic as the fashion to be found here. It can get sweaty and drunken and soon you will be wearing the face off some nineteen year old English lit student from Trinity College with an ironic hair cut, but it’s fun!
Nowadays a lot of gays who can’t stomach Rihanna or that walking Skeleton Madonna and like things a bit more alternative tend to go to other places, making them decidedly mixed. A very good option is The Workmans Club. Once a dodgy old man’s bar, it was transformed two years ago in to Dublin’s most popular music and club venue. Quite indie, the best options for gays are the Wednesday and Thursday nights as the weekends get way too packed and sweaty and not in a good way. Another option is the Grand Social across the river. Very similar in style and substance to The Workmans, it at times is home to some interesting gay-friendly nights such as Ripple and Panda.
Dublin is home to your generic gay bars and clubs, albeit not many, especially for a city of one million. It is more sensible and enlightening to move away from the gay ghettoes if the George and Dragon and check out the more hidden options mentioned here and especially the traditionally non-gay venues that the gays have begun to frequent in large numbers. Nevertheless, no matter where you go in Dublin you are guaranteed to have a great time and make new friends and possibly shag a ginger