Bobbing through a sea of green, white and orange balloons at the Dublin airport only added to my excitement. Yes, dolls! I was set for a wicked St. Paddy’s Day weekend in Dublin! I can’t remember the last time I had a party weekend and this was going to be a craic (what the Irish say for good times, happy days, etc.)!
Now, it’s all about the pubs in Dublin. So shortly after I landed, I met up with my mates and we made haste for our evening meal at none other than a pub. Against the Grain adds a modern twist to pub fare favs and has a huge selection of beers, including one flavourful Mango brew called Mongozo. I don’t normally drink beer, but even I sipped on this with a smile.
Well fed, we made our way through the cobblestone streets leading up to the Temple Bar area – Dublin’s main entertainment district. Live music and outdoor performers entertained at every turn, but I soon started to feel the bitter chill of a night out in Dublin and felt the urge to go home. Not to worry. I overcame the momentary lapse in enthusiasm and carried on. Tired and kinda cold, I powered through from one crowded pub to another comparing St. Paddy’s Day plans with other tourists and catching glimpses of traditional Irish dance.
Inspired by the precise footwork of the Irish dancers, one of my mates suggested we take to the floor at the Workman’s Club. Still struggling to get into the spirit of things, I feigned enthusiasm and hoped that a change in scenery would perk up my spirits. And well, I guess it kinda did. I was happy to find that the club hosted multiple rooms, each with cosy features like fireplaces, pianos and antique chandeliers. It wasn’t slick or swanky, but had a lived-in, retro-chic thing going on. Yep, my kind of groovy. Even still, a few of us soon called it a night, while the others kept the party going through the night (1 of whom didn’t even make it home that night). What was happening? I loved dancing. Perhaps it was my long journey into Dublin (the flight in from London is 45 minutes in length). My flight only landed earlier that afternoon, but even in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I watched everyone around me going out on the piss. While people shared stories about their late night adventures, I felt the strain of my fake smiles. It was all so uninspiring, but perhaps I would feel differently had I gone out and taken part in some of the merriment? No matter. I’ll be in top form for St. Paddy’s day!!!
When the big day finally arrived, we celebrated by going to Whelan’s, one of Dublin’s most popular live music venues. As I sipped on my pint of Guinness and watched local Irish bands rock out, I finally started having fun! Victorious!!! The sets were lively and full of Irish flair. As a tourist, it is all to easy to reduce your cultural experience down to simply the traditional, but it’s important to incorporate elements of modern culture in the cities and communities we visit. Anything less would leave us with an inaccurate and antiquated impression. So the eclectic mix of the not-so-typical Irish music was a great way to compliment the traditional Irish music and Celtic dancing I had seen days before.
Leaving Las Vegas was the first band we caught. Not only were their Indie rock tunes seriously craicing, but they brought their grannies to the gig! As they hit the stage a few 80-something women appeared, but immediately disappeared after the band wrapped up their set. Absolute gold! The next band – WOB! – was busting out electronica. I danced until I sweat during that set, but it was the last band that put on the most impressive show. Corner Boy is an energetic Irish folk band that connected with the audience in so many ways. They tutored us on the meaning of craic. Filled us in on their recent North American tour. Shared their observations about life. And made us all feel as passionate about their music as they were. Half way through the set, they even decided to do a song with the audience by jumping right into the crowd! While most of the band grabbed their guitars, the drummer picked up a tambourine and they all ushered through to the centre of the crowded audience. How much more intimate can you get? I was grooving with the locals and hanging with the band. Yippie Yeah Kiyah, motherfuckers!
Alas, when the show came to an end, we head off to the next pub. En route, we saw drunken people staggering down the streets and girls walking with heels in hand. When we finally ended up in a club, I realised what was bothering me all weekend… I’m too old for this shit. I need to be in more adult-friendly environments. Just as a bachelor pad is probably not child-friendly, crowded clubs are not adult-friendly. I need locations where I don’t have to live in fear of drinks spilling on my silk shirt. Places where dry-clean only means something. Somewhere my shoes don’t get stepped on would also appease my cobbler. And quite frankly, I don’t find drunken flattery winning (especially when it’s bestowed onto someone else 30 seconds later, hmph)! Oh dear, I sound like such a bore.
So is the party really over?
Of course not. I had an amazing time at the live music venue. In fact, I’m going to seek out concerts much more actively going forward. And I will likely even find myself in a club again too… It just won’t be any time soon. Although I was initially surprised by the shift in my behaviour, I have now adjusted my expectations. In a way, it makes perfect sense that next year I’d much rather slow cook a Guinness stew and hold an Irish dinner party to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. There will be drinks and dancing, but in this club… Nobody queues and I will finally be on the guest list.