The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is currently more or less invisible. There are no border controls meaning people can move freely to and from the neighbouring countries. Following recent talks about Brexit meaning a ‘hard’ border would be instated, I thought I’d talk about the current situation and what restrains punters from travelling from North to South and vice versa, but will happily travel from Dublin to Galway or Limerick, or from Belfast to Derry to see their favourite DJs.
To travel from Dublin to Belfast at the moment it take’s less than two hours by car and more or less two hours to travel by train or bus. While Limerick takes roughly the same amount of time as Belfast to travel to from Dublin, Galway takes thirty minutes more, yet a considerable amount more people travel to the southern cities for different shows and gigs. It just feels easier for some reason. The only thing that actually happens once you cross the border into Northern Ireland is the elimination of the metric system, the change in road signs and you won’t be able to use your Euros.
The contrast of the lineups at dance events on either side of the border do make them appealing, as is evident from the interest shown in Carl Cox’s show at Shine in Belfast, as he hasn’t played a Dublin show since 2009. The same can be said about some of the techno shows in Dublin, with huge interest being shown by the Belfast crowd in shows being put on by the likes of Techno & Cans and Subject in Dublin. You would think that the fact that it costs €10 to get the bus from Dublin to Belfast to see the biggest DJ in the world play would surely mean people travelling in their hundreds from Dublin, but no. For some reason the people from both worlds seem to see the other as inaccessible.
Are people afraid of the change of culture in the cities? The reality is that the small differences between the cultures in both Dublin and Belfast are irrelevant when it comes to the electronic music scene. Religion and politics are forgotten about. If you travel to Belfast for a gig you won’t be treated differently because of your accent, and the same applies to Dublin. If this is what’s holding you back, you need to forget about it. Where you’re from won’t even come up in a conversation.
We recently hosted a discussion as part of AVA Festival’s conference in which our editor Craig asked a series of questions on topics such as curfews and the scenes on either side of the border. Timmy Stewart and Lyndon Stephens represented the North of Ireland while I represented the South. We weren’t long into the discussion before the four of us realised that we all face the same problems when it does come to running events and found similarity after similarity between our tastes and dance music cultures in general. We went on to discuss what does actually bring us together, the likes of Life Festival and AVA Festival, but it really shouldn’t take events on a massive scale to make us travel for less than two hours. The separate medias was a factor that came to be one of the reasons why we thought there was a divide. We have completely separate television and radio outlets, different news broadcasts, all of which make us feel divided from one another. The thing is, these media outlets are growing to be more and more insignificant and will eventually in my opinion become extinct due to the rise of social media. Social media is universal. We all see the same news stories, same articles and same music, no matter where we are.
DJ Deece – Boiler Room Belfast
It’s not all negative. Things are beginning to change. Relationships are beginning to flourish between North and South. Promoters are beginning to team up. We’ve previously seen Dublin brand Subject team up with Belfast’s Twitch, a combination that works perfectly music-wise. This year alone has also seen Dublin’s Techno & Cans playing with Belfast clubnight/label DSNT on a regular basis, at AVA Festival where they hosted a stage as well as travelling to Germany with them recently as DSNT curated an all-Irish lineup in Berlin club Griessmuhle. The lineup showcased how much talent Ireland has to offer with acts like Myler, Fran Hartnett, Techno & Cans and DSNT upending the club throughout the night. This year’s Boiler Room at AVA Festival also saw Dublin hero DJ Deece play alongside a huge Northern lineup, soon followed by Belfast’s Jordan playing a headline set in Dublin club Hangar.
District 8, Dublin
The elimination of the divide between the North and South’s music scene is easily achievable, and I do think we’re on the right track for that to happen. Don’t get me wrong, there has been plenty of instances where people have made the venture to the other side. Southern Irish DJs have played in Northern Ireland and Northern Irish DJs have played in Southern Ireland. We just need to realise, it’s easy to decide on a Thursday that you can easily travel to a Belfast or Dublin gig on that Friday night. You won’t even need a passport.