Reopening the Pav

From the staff behind the counter to the students on the floor, everyone has something to say on the iconic student bar’s reopening

The Pavillion Bar, known affectionately as the Pav, finally reopened its doors this semester for the first time since they were forced closed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new addition of the temporary Pav marquee, the campus bar may look slightly different to how it was known before the pandemic. The Pav, however, is no stranger to this evolving change.  

When it first opened its doors in the year 1885, the Pavilion Sports Bar contained only changing rooms, two bathrooms and one room for hosting meetings and serving refreshments. In 1960, DU Central Athletics Club, the central body of Trinity’s sports clubs, applied to the college board for the Pavillion to license alcohol. Approval was granted under the condition that alcohol only be served from 3:30pm to 6:45pm during term time, with these hours shortened to 6:15pm outside of term. With the Pav’s position as the center of the social scene on campus steadily increasing from this moment in 1960 onwards, it comes as a joy to many students to see the establishment opening its doors wide once more.  

Speaking to the current Student Union Ents Officer Greg Arrowsmith, he expresses the importance of the Pav allowing all students the opportunity to socialise and make new friends: “These events aren’t exclusive, they’re open to everyone and get people mixing.” 

This truth is revealed in conversation with Emma Gallagher, a second year student who went to the Pav during Senior Freshers Week, her first visit since she started studying in Trinity a year ago: “I’d heard loads about the Pav from older students and I obviously had certain expectations surrounding it. My expectation was just that you go there, drink with your mates and have a bit of fun. But when I actually went for the first time, I went with one friend and instantly met four new friends when we joined them at the table. That’s what I think is really great about it.”  

We can be outside and meet friends, the craic, the buzz, the atmosphere … I felt like a real college student.”

Further to the Pav’s re-opening, the SU and Ents committee have mounted the Pav marquee on the lawn just outside the pub’s doors. This new feature was added to accommodate government health regulations. Arrowsmith admits that the organisation and construction of the marquee required significant work and incurred substantial costs, which have yet to be confirmed. However, Arrowsmith concludes it all to have been worth it. 

“It has been expensive, but definitely an expense worth paying for because it gives students somewhere to socialise safely. The alternatives are either no socialising at all, or house parties, which obviously aren’t COVID-safe and put students at risk. That’s the rationale behind the marquee.” 

The success of the marquee is confirmed by Frank Wolfe, a senior fresh student currently working at the Pav as bar staff. “The atmosphere in there is buzzing every day and the events, I think, have been very successful. As far as I know, no other college is doing anything like this.”

“When I first heard how much the marquee was costing, I thought it was ridiculous. But it’s doing a lot to get a bit of atmosphere back into the college, and I actually think it’s a very good move.”  

The Pav marquee opening finally gave us a chance to play music together as a society and host an event”

The opportunities afforded to society life with the marquee available as a COVID-safe venue are apparent. Domhnall Roe of the Trad Society spoke to Trinity News, praising the reopening after the society’s first in-person event for a year and a half: “The Pav marquee opening finally gave us a chance to play music together as a society and host an event that allowed us to engage with society members in person.” 

These opportunities for live music are also spoken of by Elias Dempsey of the DUDJ Society. While Dempsey admits that within the marquee it remains “painfully evident that restrictions are not over” and, as a DJ, finds it difficult to see students “unable to boogie and confined to benches of six.” However, DJing at Pav Friday still made him feel that “there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel.”  

Moving forward, the Pav marquee will remain in place until October 1. Beyond that, the Pav itself will continue operating as it is presently, with seating available both indoors and out without the requirement of pre-booking. The marquee remains available for bookings of up to groups of six, with plenty more events planned for the month of September. 

Speaking to Arrowsmith about his plans for the future of this academic year, the centrality of the Pav in college life remains apparent. “We want to make Pav Friday a kind of institution where every week there’s an arts type event, a sports type event and then a DJ set or music event that everyone can enjoy in the evening. So basically on a Friday you just get yourself to the Pav and there’s going to be something there for you.”  

After a year and a half of hardship and restrictions, the re-opening of the Pav and what this symbolises for college life and the future can, as Gallagher describes, feel surreal. For her, enjoying that first drink in the Pav this week made her feel like she was “actually in Trinity now.” The Pav’s re-opening represents the fact that “things are now happening. We can be outside and meet friends, the craic, the buzz, the atmosphere … I felt like a real college student.” 

It is evident that extra efforts are necessary during these times if students are to be granted the college experience in Trinity that they worked so hard and waited so long for. Students are currently waiting for similar resolutions to be made in other areas of university policy in order for this experience to be extended to all areas of college life. For now, though, it might just be enough to enjoy the re-opening of the Pav, the heart of Trinity’s social scene, to bask in the hope that it offers, and allow it to pump life into the college days ahead.