“You’ve got your biological family and your logical family, and I think on the dance floors we all found our logical family.” Philly McMahon, ThisIsPopBaby in Clubbing Is Culture
For this week’s 52INSIGHTS we bring you the story of ‘Clubbing is Culture’, a passion project that THINKHOUSE worked on with No More Hotels and Algorithm to reinforce the fact that clubbing is indeed, culture. The project highlights the value of clubbing for connection and what’s lost when we dismiss its value.
FIGHTING FOR IRISH CLUB CULTURE
‘Clubbing is Culture’ began on Ireland’s culture night in September 2020. We joined forces with No More Hotels and Algorithm for Culture Night, an event that seeks to ‘Connect Through Culture’, to highlight the value of clubbing for connection; what’s lost when we dismiss its value and to reinforce the fact that clubbing is indeed, culture. This part of the project saw the carcasses of some of the most iconic former clubbing venues, which have since been replaced with hotels, come alive again with light projections of scenes of what has gone before and with pleas of where we need to go (you can read about the ‘dangers to the dancefloor’ in Dublin here).
Then, last week, we launched a 20 minute mini documentary ‘Clubbing is Culture’ (WATCH IT HERE) where we brought together some of our favourite thinkers, cultural commentators and makers, who are immersed in club culture to talk about what clubbing means to them, including Dublin’s Lord Mayor Hazel Chu who is part of the Night Time Economy Task Force that was set up this year. Philly McMahon (ThisIsPopBaby), Mona Lxsa (Founder of Gxrl Code), Una Mullally (Writer & co-presenter of United Ireland) and John Mangru (Designer & Clubber), join Chu to discuss why Clubbing is Culture and the importance of it for individuals, communities and society at large.
BRINGING CLUB CULTURE TO LIFE
Some of the highlights from the documentary speak to the importance of Club Culture in our daily lives.
“It creates a creative force that is undeniable. Everybody knows that when people are hanging out, talking late at night, you start to solve the world… It’s brought a greater understanding of people into my life. I think it’s brought a lot of empathy into my life. I think when you’re in a room with loads of different people, people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, parts of the world, the exchange becomes very democratic and egalitarian. It brought an optimism to my life.” Una Mullally, Writer & co-presenter of United Ireland podcast
“It’s building society. It’s shaping people’s perceptions on what life is and what coming together looks like and celebrating the one thing we all can’t live without - music. Creating those spaces where people can be themselves and celebrate themselves and celebrating others… It’s creating an environment where people can celebrate and be themselves.”
Mona Lxsa, Gxrl Code
“It’s creativity. It’s fun. It’s mates. It’s business. It’s community. Clubbing to me is endless. Clubbing is culture and clubbing should be there as part of every city.”
Hazel Chu, Dublin’s Lord Mayor
“It’s spending time with your chosen family… It’s a place you can feel at home.”
John Mangru, Designer & Clubber
Clubbing enables us to communicate, create and connect in unique and magical ways. It brings people together, it provides growth, art and identity - as well as a rich economy. If clubbing continues to be excluded from the traditional definition of culture in people’s minds, we’ll see the eradication of a culture that has persevered through some of humanity’s hardest times, has helped people survive and thrive and has been the catalyst for some of fashion, art, theatre and music’s most iconic moments.
TAKING ACTION FOR CLUB CULTURE
As we continue to see the eradication of spaces to dance and face the repercussions of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to encourage people to see clubbing for what it was – culture – and something you have to work hard to nurture and protect.
“In a pandemic, the ‘clubbing is culture message’ is as important, if not more. As our economy is battered and industries are crying out for support, if we can’t even consider the culture we love to be culture, how can we expect those who are not part of it to consider it worthy of supporting and saving." Dave Byrne, Head of Creative at THINKHOUSE and Founder of No More Hotels
“If we don’t hold on to spaces...we are going to be poor, culturally, as a nation. This is where people meet and ideas happen. It’s where movements are formed. It’s where artists get ideas. It’s where people get ideas for business. It’s where people get ideas for new festivals, new galleries, new brands, new streetwear, new bands, new music. It’s an ecosystem. It’s a habitat.” Una Mullally, Writer & co-presenter of United Ireland podcast
"The current invitation for contributions to the Dublin City Development Plan, which is underway until the 22nd February, allows us to come together to shape a city that offers a vibrant nightlife culture. Doing this campaign is meaningful - we know our work will impact our local culture. These campaigns spread the message - that’s critical. On top of that, if everyone uses their voice by responding to the DCDP invitation, collectively, we will all have a direct impact through engaging with the process." Jane McDaid, Thinkhouse. (Link here: DCDP)
As with all culture, if it’s not nourished and given space to grow, it will die. And whilst it may not be everyone’s culture, that does not invalidate the fact that clubbing is culture.
GETTING BEHIND THE MESSAGE
So far, the documentary has been shared and viewed very widely amongst the leaders of the night time economy and the clubbing and festival culture in Ireland. It’s been shared by politicians and clubbing activists across Europe (like Nighttime.org and UnitedWeStream).
Of course, this work doesn’t exist in silo - incredible work over the years by many activists involved in movements like Give Us The Night have ensured that the need for club culture is heard loudly (read our 52INSIGHTS about nightlife activism here).
Clubbing brings people together, it provides growth, art and identity - as well as a rich economy. We celebrate how clubbing enables us to communicate, create and connect in unique and magical ways. Clubbing is for dancing, art, music and human expression. Clubbing is Culture.
At a time where so many are realising the importance of social connection through lack thereof, the significance of communal gatherings (like in clubs) has never felt more acute. When we dance again, when we gather again, it will be a historic moment for so many young people. Until then, think about how you can nurture feelings of social connection, emotional release or intimacy from afar - serving individual and collective wellbeing. For example, a relatively new app called Clubhouse, is enabling people to connect through voice, around the world.