Nightlife in Dublin: the ups and downs

Luz Wullocombe explores Dublin Night-life culture in the face of new Covid regulations

Midnight closing: Disaster or relief? For some students, the new Covid-19 induced early closing time for Dublin’s nightlife could be a blessing in disguise. As we approach exam season, an extra four hours of sleep on a night out maybe isn’t the end of the world. 

Although the logic behind this recent decision doesn’t make much sense to any of us, maybe it’s not all bad news. Does Covid really only get passed on after midnight? Is this a precursor to an impending full lockdown? Let’s hope not, but whatever the reasons behind the new rules, this is a good moment to take a look at Dublin’s student nightlife culture and ask whether it really is as great as it’s made out to be. 

Going out, as in the nights that finish at 4am in a nightclub, is a major part of student life. It’s where you meet people, let off steam and forget about the impending 2:2 coming your way. But for some of us, these big nights have a few too many problems.

Let’s start with prinks/pres (pre-drinking). A standard night out consists of getting as drunk as you can in a small, overcrowded room, for as little money as possible, before you hit the club. Prinks start and so do the issues: angry neighbours banging on the wall, cocktails of vodka and Berocca, and so on. Maybe even worse is the invite-only nature of these gatherings unlike the pub, which is so reassuringly open to everyone. 

“I do think, however, that sitting in your local, spending a little bit more, and bumping into an unlikely friend gets the night off to a far better start than the often dingy and exclusive prinks.”

The problem with the pub, though, is that everyone is always broke and can’t afford the ludicrously expensive Dublin pint. I do think, however, that sitting in your local, spending a little bit more, and bumping into an unlikely friend gets the night off to a far better start than the often dingy and exclusive prinks. You can chat in a pub and meet new people before getting to a club where the music is too loud for any successful conversation to take place. Also, I am happily of the belief that two pints in the pub gets you as drunk as four in your kitchen. 

Then on to the club after some catch-up drinking. However much alcohol you have consumed, the near hour-long wait in the freezing cold queue is going to sober you up pretty quickly. By the time you get to the front, your bed is calling and the dance floor screams effort. 

It’s fine though, because then there are the drugs. I have recently been wondering whether the huge increase in our generation’s use of drugs might be linked to the music we all listen to. Drum and bass, techno, jungle I love them and have no issues here, but after three hours solid of this music, there really only is one way to “get through the night”, a phrase I hear all too often. This is music designed for drugs and that, fundamentally, cannot be a positive thing. 

And then there is the lack of romance. The drugs put everyone into their own world. They are the ultimate pheromone blocker and will rapidly extinguish any spark of attraction you might have been feeling. “Do you want a bump of coke?”, is not a great chat-up line and it seems to me to be a bit of a bleak start to a potential romance.

Luckily, I live in the Liberties and have a bike, so it should be easy enough for me just to sneak off home when I’ve had enough. But it does mean drunk cycling which is not ideal. And if I am walking I have to face the girl-walking-home-alone-in-the-dark worries, which are not very positive either. 

So that’s another problem. Safety. With the recent spiking epidemic, some of us can feel a bit on edge at the club. Anecdotally, the spiking problem might be less prevalent in Trinity than at other colleges let’s hope so. Maybe the best way forward is the only one open to us: hope for the best and look after your friends. I guess it’s a good motto for the next big night out.

Still, there is an atmosphere of intense relief and excitement as finally we are released from a two-year lockdown. We should all be grateful to be getting our fully deserved clubbing time, whether or not it starts at 5pm, or 7pm.