6am closing times have always been an Irish clubgoers pipe dream. More recently, this dream appears to be a possibility after years of rigorous work from nightlife campaigners, Give Us The Night. Looking at the future of Irish nightlife, we caught up with event promoter Ryan Roe and discussed what the real-life implications of a 6am closing in Ireland might look like.
The recent news in relation to licensing law reform has been one that is long overdue and welcome for many. Personally, I would fall into that category, though that does not mean that we as a nation are ready for this undeniable cultural shift that is likely to soon occur on and off the dance floor.
I recall this change feeling merely like a dream when I first made my clubbing debut more than 7 years ago. Having experienced much later opening hours in countries like England and Poland, I always thought of the missed opportunities and special moments so many Irish club goers have missed out on due to this legislation feeling so out of reach.
That is, until the likes of Sunil Sharpe and Robbie Kitt of Give Us The Night helped to reform licensing laws to the point where they no longer seemed impossible. It is likely that this progress would not have been made if it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic as people were able to reflect on the past and plan for what our lives would be like post-pandemic. Tremendous progress was made during the time that clubs were closed, and we now see ourselves in a position where this legislative change could be implemented as early as the end of the year.
I caught up with Ryan Roe, who is a brilliantly established event promoter here in Ireland, and asked him to share his thoughts on the news. His initial thoughts were, “Obviously, I think it’s great. It’s a fantastic idea in the long term and brings us up to par with nearly every other European city. There are some massive bonuses there for venues if the legislation does go through. I’m working in venues currently where they are nearly spending €50,000 a year just to open past 1am, which is crazy. It is dead money being spent that the government is not reinvesting either. It’s ridiculous.”
Alternatively, I asked Ryan to highlight some downsides to the legislation: “Venue costs are a big thing. You will have to pay staff more, and your bars will arguably be less busy since people have a longer time to drink over a longer stretch of time. This of course benefits customers but as a venue operator this is tough over time as you will end up making the same amount as prior to 3am closing or less.”
Ryan then highlighted the stamina of the crowd in Ireland and discusses the need for venues to communicate; ‘Between 3am and 6am, the Irish crowd will not be used to that, and it will take a couple of years to fully settle into this prospect of longer opening hours. It could also end up being a race to the bottom where, if you are a venue who can only afford to pay staff until 4am but a club beside that venue can afford to stay open until 6am, the venue closing earlier may suffer because of this. Clear communication between the clubs will be needed on this.”
How could it come to fruition in a practical way? “Personally, I think that 6am should be reserved for if you are doing big double headers or two headliners for a specific event. I don’t think the crowd have the stamina currently and it will take them a while to build up that. On the other hand, a positive of this is that locals will have more playing time. If you have a headline on from 3am to 5am, locals will have more time to fill. On the downside, promoters will have to pay locals more, meaning that costs once again will rise. Of course, it’s great for locals to be playing longer, but there will be an increase in cost. If double headliners are to become a thing, this will also result in ticket prices rising too. If you are only seeing one headline over the course of 8 hours, you will need to understand why that is. As you can tell, there is a lot to navigate and work through. Overall, it is a good idea, and I do think that the expectations of Irish crowds may also need to come down a little too.”
I would be inclined to agree with everything Ryan has mentioned in relation to how the landscape may change when the legislation is implemented. With that being said, I would love to see club residents become more frequent due to the extended opening hours. Additionally, I would prefer to see closing sets be dedicated to local acts primarily. Even if it is only until we as a country find our way around this extremely exciting prospect. I do believe that a new era of club cult heroes will emerge from trusting our own to close club nights off after an international act has finished their set. I can feel the goosebumps already.