Dublin based party Safe Haus have been running innovative dance music events across all manner of spaces for half a decade. Tonight the party bids goodbye for the final time, leaving a legacy that reiterates the parties ideologies of high-caliber music, in safe spaces, tailored entirely towards local disco dancers.

Running parties in Dublin isn’t easy, we’ve a relatively small scene that can often seem a little cramped. DJs and promoters across the city can often be found rubbing shoulders or rather butting heads to try carve out their place in an already suffocated ecosystem of club culture. Starting a party can be challenging, trying to find spaces in a territory that has been already wiped of the majority of adequate dance spaces makes the thought of establishing a new party rather burdensome, and often these endeavours are unfruitful for many who dare to dip their toes into the world of promoting in Dublin City.

SafeHaus began their journey like many new collectives, running gigs with their circle of friends in venues that are in no way associated with dance music. In fact the SafeHaus story starts in the musty basement of Dublins most notorious rock bar, Fibbers. On the 5th of February 2018, SafeHaus was born, a conflicting time for Dublin’s dance music community as the city was still very much mourning the loss of Hangar and gearing up for the slaughter of The Tivoli Theatre [District 8]. The city laid in limbo, trying to find its feet, paving over the cracks and begrudgingly accepting the cards Dublin was handed. Promoters began to reshuffle their decks in aim to rescue a dying city, leaving little to no room for fresh faces. The ratio of promoters & DJs was combatively disproportionate but times of disarray can often lead to a breathe of fresh air.

Welcome Safe Haus who joined the troubled assortment of Dublin City dance music promoters. The trio of friends Max, Evan & Liam wanted to bring a fresh perspective to Dublin, a party that was all about… the party. Safe Haus encompassed a glorified gaff party, in the best kind of way, it was friends of friends type crowd that harnessed a loose and somewhat unregulated music policy in an off-kilter style venue and ran competitions for boxes of Amber Leaf & Buckfast. Safe Haus – a product of the nonchalant ethos of Hangar, the party wanted to offer something that had been missing since Andrew Lanes departure, a no strings attached style dance music party that was specifically designed for dancers in mind.

Safe Haus cut their teeth by hosting a string of local parties which would then mutate into booking some adventurous acts that we’re blossoming at the time including lo-fi heroes DJ Swagger & Herb Rhythm alongside a rising Mark Blair. The parties sound remained relatively loose and reflected the trio’s love for miscellaneous electronic sounds, the acts were central in their vision but never characterised the parties concept or outlook. SafeHaus would begin to venture outside 80 Parnell Street, otherwise known as Fibbers. The team found themselves a new home on Abbey Street as they began to bring relatively unknown but thriving European acts such as Fadi Mohem, LSDXOXO, Conducta, Soundbwoy Killah [Frazer Ray] and more to a sweat soaked Wigwam basement. SafeHaus teamed up with NCAD on a number of occasions with the aim to bring a colourful approach to Dublin’s dance music scene, often finding refuge in college prefabs and vacant rooftops, injecting a hint of spice into a field that remained somewhat lack-lustre.

At present time SafeHaus’s sound remains undefined, but forward-facing bass music seems central to the trio’s identity. Running many of their parties in Bow Lane & Tengu with some of dance musics most avant-garde bass merchants, the party seems a long way from tonic wine giveaways, but they haven’t forgotten their roots in the slightest. As they look towards their finale with Blume, Sputnik One & Emby at Tengu tonight we caught up with the SafeHaus founders and regular guests to lend some final words.

Evan Carty [Co-Founder]

How was Safe Haus born?

It was actually born through a college project believe it or not. Me and Max knew each other already, then met Liam and discovered he had the same love for electronic music that we did. We toyed with the idea of throwing a party but it was only after a college project where we had to create a business idea that we actually started it. I remember it so well, we walked out of a lecture after finishing the project, basically having planned our first night, looked at each other and said “Well we just planned a party, we might as well throw it” and then we did, and here we are 5 years later! With the help of course of early contributors Alex Ryan and Glenn Fetherson also. 

What memories spring to mind from your early events in the intimate location of Fibbers basement?

Ah Fibbers, or 80 Parnell street as we liked to call it! Some very great memories from that basement, I think the only other electronic collective throwing parties there at the time was Club Comfort (I may be wrong) so it was an under-utilised venue for electronic music at the time. I actually missed our first party because I was abroad, so I would say our second with Mark Blair was a great memory as it was the first time I got to see the work come to fruition, all of the familiar faces, friends etc dancing and just enjoying themselves and seeing friends playing sets of tunes they loved. Just knowing that we created this was amazing, the feeling of bringing everyone together under the same roof to have a buzz was something I will always cherish the feeling of.

The SafeHaus team have been pretty active in bringing new and exciting acts to Dublin, in many cases in the very early stages of their career. Acts such as Fadi Mohem, Conducta, LSDXOXO & Frazer Ray spring to mind. What drew you to bringing over these somewhat cutting-edge but also risky bookings? 

It’s funny you ask this because we would literally argue for days over what acts to book sometimes. We often said the acts we book have a couple of requirements: Up and coming (usually), not really defined to a single genre and we had to be fans of them. Take LSDXOXO for example, relatively unknown in Ireland at the time, can switch flawlessly between genres like old school techno, jersey club, breaks and a few pop edits for good measure. After seeing a boiler room, we all listened and agreed LSD would be the perfect booking for a party, and fit all of the requirements as we were all quickly becoming massive fans. Frazer Ray – same thing.  We heard ‘Burning’ under his old Soundbwoy Killah moniker and quickly became fans, same with Fadi Mohem after seeing him play the secret bunker in Electric Picnic. The same with Blume this Friday.

Even the same with local Irish acts such as EMA, Sputnik One, yourself, Bambi, Outl1er, Tyvion Valentine, Rhyzine etc who all played a few gigs with us,  and too many others to name. Really our bookings were just us being fans, be it international DJs or local. Major major shout out to all the local acts who played with us as well, there’s some insane talent and far too many to name, those named above are only a drop in a sea of talent we’ve had the pleasure to work with. 

For your final party SafeHaus host Blume, Sputnik One & Emby, is there anything significant about your concluding lineup for the night?

Ah, I mean the SafeHas sound has really changed a lot over time. It really actually shifted with our own music tastes as people. Having first started as a house, garage and disco night then shifting towards darker, heavier sounds we’ve really kept evolving the whole time. We’ve recently found ourselves loving UK influenced genres and bass heavy sounds, as seen with our bookings like Djrum and Object Blue. Sputnik and Emby embody that UK sound perfectly with their mixture of heavy bass influenced tracks with that raw grimey Mcing from Emby. Blume in particular in my opinion highlights what we’ve always strived to achieve personally which is the freedom to explore the music. Blume does this perfectly and we can’t wait to see exactly this on Friday. It only makes sense our last party comes to embody the very thing that has made SafeHaus what it is, and to embrace this freedom of expression with all the amazing people who’ve embraced this with us from the very start!

Max Ivory [Co-founder]

This is a little bitter-sweet that we get to chat about SafeHaus on Four Four prior to your final dance. How are you feeling now that you’re coming to the end of 5 years of parties in Dublin City?

Bittersweet is right! SafeHaus has thrown a lot of great parties and brought a lot of amazing people together, but from an internal perspective, it also taught us a lot and had a role in shaping myself and the rest of the crew into the people we are today. So yes it’s a little sad to see us wrap up operations after 5 years but we got so much out of it that I couldn’t be anything but happy that we had such a good run. Shouts to all those we collaborated with and of course the extended SafeHaus fam including, but not limited to, Alex, Glenn, John Luke, Maely, Cillian & Many more.

You guys have been responsible for pushing a number of local acts including myself into the spotlight over the years and have been slightly belligerent in zoning in on a certain style of quality control from very early on, do you think this separated yourselves from other parties that formed around the same time?

Ah thanks for the kind words. Well, from very early on we wanted to focus on two main elements, which was..1 – Bringing over breakout acts for their Irish debuts and 2 – Providing a platform for great local artists to flourish. Quality control actually wasn’t that difficult when there were so many great DJs from Dublin and beyond! However, when we were booking Irish DJs, we always had a view in mind of where they were going, rather than where they were at the time. We were willing to take risks from very early on which makes our name kind of ironic actually seeing as we never really played it safe. The overall landscape in Dublin now is really great for parties that might not have landed so well when we started 5 years ago. It’s really cool to see that.

Although the team has been somewhat stiff-necked in terms of quality control, the sound of your parties has been constantly evolving throughout the years. Was picking a defined sound ever a part of the SafeHaus agenda or does the eclectic sound kind of fit the party’s atmosphere?

Ha it’s funny you ask that because we’d always have these conversations about if we should be focusing on one sound. But I think in the end that was our greatest strength. We just focused on booking artists that were making waves, and a lot of the time those were artists that you couldn’t really nail down a certain genre with, as they dipped and dived through a bit of everything, such as the likes of Djrum, Object Blue, DJ Swagger and even Blume, who we host tonight in Tengu for her Irish Debut.

Are there any parties that particularly stand out when you think back on your previous shows? 

Too many to mention! But I think the top 3 had to be our 2nd birthday with Djrum, our first ever big show which was with LSDXOXO and finally the unforgettable night where we got Frazer Ray and Conducta in a booth together to put Wigwam on wheels. I have no doubt though that Dublin will still be in good hands once we’re gone. The likes of Honeypot, Lost, Slither & many more are all at the top of their game. 

Liam McGrath [Co-founder]

Throughout your time working with SafeHaus you’ve explored various locations and concepts whether it be charity run gigs that infuse hip-hop and techno, or day parties in idiosyncratic locations, to raves in college prefabs. Do you think this kind of spontaneity helped with the success of SafeHaus?

Yeah I’d say it’s definitely helped us both grow as a collective and also as a community. We still see the faces that came to our launch years ago at our events today and that in itself is a great feeling. We’ve tried to use our platform over the years to help charities close to our own and our city’s heart such as Pieta House and Inner City Helping Homeless, being able to do this has definitely been one of the highlights. Dublin is a small city with limited clubs and event spaces, so being able to explore different concepts and spaces for our events as well as adding elements of Hip Hop or live acts to our electronic focussed events has helped keep it fresh and allowed us to introduce our style of dance music to those coming for the Hip Hop element and visa versa.

After five years of running parties, why is now the right time to bid farewell to SafeHaus?

It was a tough decision to call it a day for SafeHaus and not one we took lightly. As a group we’re all at different stages in our own careers and we’re all respectively looking at traveling or are doing so currently and as much as we’d all love to continue SafeHaus it comes down to that. Many of the collectives that we admired and inspired us to create SafeHaus have since finished up also which is the life cycle of the community in Ireland, the ever-changing landscape and the appetite for different genres / sounds in Ireland is also a factor. Hopefully this isn’t farewell forever, hopefully we can get together at some stage for a reunion.

Do you have a message to send to your crowd that came to support SafeHaus over the years?

The crowd that came to our events time and time again are the people that made SafeHaus what it was, as I said above it feels like a community. We couldn’t have done what we did without the support from those people and we’re forever grateful. The support they showed for both local and international acts allowed us to get creative and explore new acts, new sounds and artists with our bookings. They came through and supported us with our popular and unheard of bookings respectively and that really gave us motivation and creative freedom. We were able to move away from the idea of only running events with big names and bring it back to a space where we could bring new sounds to the people attending. We’re forever grateful  to those that came and shared those memories with us.

As you close in on the final chapter of Safe Haus, what do you think the story will look like?

My biggest hope for the story of SafeHaus is that it’s a time when people can reminisce on our journey, the events we’ve hosted, the fun we’ve had and people we’ve all met along the way. As something that started out so organically and with the goal of bringing back the house party intimate vibe where people knew and vibed with each other is something I think we achieved and it’s sad to say goodbye to that but hope that  a positive memory lives on from what we did over the last 5 years. 

Sputnik One [SafeHaus Regular]

You’ve been a SafeHaus regular over the years. How would you describe the party?

I’d say it was definitely one of the frontrunners in the city for championing the bassier sound, with a really energetic crowd every time and above all a wholesome environment.

You’ve been a SafeHaus regular over the years. How would you describe the party?

I’d say it was definitely one of the frontrunners in the city for championing the bassier sound, with a really energetic crowd every time and above all a wholesome environment.

SafeHaus were some of the first promoters to put faith in you as a headliner in Dublin, how important were these moments when you think about your career thus far?

I definitely hold these experiences dear to my heart. One of the early highlights for me was an impromptu rooftop party which wasn’t even that late but had a palpable sense of excitement around it, some of the most fun I’ve had in Dublin – As well as the crew having brought DjRUM over early on for a set which remains one of the maddest I’ve ever witnessed in Wigwam basement. It’s definitely been a laboratory for the likes of myself and many others, DJs and dancers alike over the past 5 years and that’s incredibly important.

Yourself and Emby have the pleasure of soundtracking to the finale of the Safe Haus journey. Are you going to approach this gig any differently due to the circumstances or is it business as usual for you?

I think it definitely will be emotional so I’ve got some emotional bangers up my sleeve, but at the same time we’re going to keep it consistent with the bassy/percy sonics that the party has helped to forge and establish in Dublin. Blume is a master of her craft so this will be a fitting finale to a party that has earned its place in the city’s dance music legacy in my eyes.

Ema [Tengu Booking Manager / SafeHaus Regular]

What was your relationship with SafeHaus as booking manager in Tengu ?

SafeHaus started running shows at Tengu as I started doing the bookings there. Was a really easy transition into working with the crew, and an easy decision to work together as they were a collective who really ticked all the boxes. Mad about the acts they book, passionate to book diverse acts, no egos and eager to platform local talent and generally just really sound! Will definitely be sad to see them go.

You had actually planned to co-pro a show with SafeHaus to bring over DJRUM, how did that fair working with team in a different capacity?

We never did get to run the show with Djrum lol!! We tried to co-pro on two occasions but he was unwell both times. A headliner pulling out on the day is incredibly stressful but we programmed both shows last minute and it worked like a charm.

How did you find it playing for SafeHaus? I know they’ve big fans & supporters of you for a long time.

I played one of their shows in March last year with Sputnik One. That was a really nice opportunity to headline a night in Dublin together. They have a crowd that are up for some experimental sounds which is refreshing, I think they built that through booking a wide array of sounds. A lot of collectives stick to a particular vibe which is great too but always rated the variety of SafeHaus bookings! 

Have you got any memories that jump out at you from SafeHaus nights you have been involved in?

I think the Object Blue night was one for the books for sure. A lot of weird and wonderful sounds and a lush opening set from Max & Outl1er. They also ran a yearly charity fundraiser with Tengu, that’s not  something you see promoters do often enough in Dublin. They will be missed but I am excited to see what Liam, Evan and Max get up to next! Maybe we will get to run the Djrum show sometime in the future!

You can purchase tickets to SafeHaus X N-Face W/ Blume, Emby & Sputnik One here.

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