The Coppers formula

Copper Face Jacks, on Harcourt Street, is a cheesy nightclub, somewhere between school disco and local rural nightclub, in the middle of the capital

Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 01:00

For years, Coppers was known as a club for “gardaí and nurses”. Jackson is a former garda. This week, the club announced the launch of a loyalty card for nurses. It became a household name after the Dublin football captain Bryan Cullen immortalised the nightclub in his All-Ireland-winning speech at Croke Park in 2011 with the words: “See yiz in Coppers”.

Now there’s even a stage production, Coppers Uncovered, which ran in three Dublin theatres last year.

Paul Kilgallon, the entertainments manager of the UCD students’ union, explains the club’s broad appeal. “It’s the music that they play and the vibe it attracts and the people it attracts. If I’m going out on a Saturday night, regardless of where I start off, I’ll more often than not end up in Coppers . . . students feel as if they are guaranteed to have a good time.

“I’d call the music cheesy and the reason it works in Coppers is that people who arrive have been drinking for a while and everyone likes a singalong after a couple of drinks.”

Harcourt Street, where the club is, has become what Leeson Street was in the 1980s and 1990s, a gauntlet of nightclubs – Dicey’s, Krystle, D2, Bond, Everleigh Garden – vying for the stumbling crowds of dolled-up women and hands-in-their- pockets men. It’s a familiar scene across countless cities: this is where you go to get drunk, dance, possibly hook up with someone, have fun with your friends.

But compared with other European capitals Dublin has an underdeveloped culture in terms of music-focused clubbing. Our strict licensing hours, which dump everyone out on the street at the same time, result in binge drinking. Many young people have drunk a lot of cheap supermarket alcohol before they are even inside the club.

And nightclubbing as a cultural endeavour is reducing, partly because Ireland’s demographic of twentysomethings is falling dramatically. The number of people in their 20s in Dublin has dropped by 26 per cent since 2009.

Unique position
So how did Monday’s crush happen? Coppers is uniquely positioned on Harcourt Street. One side of the club is bounded by Camden Place, a lane that leads through an arch from Harcourt Street to Camden Street. The mobilisation of large numbers of students all heading to one venue is in one way accidental, and in another way a pack mentality of everyone descending on the same place for a club night that had been promoted through Facebook.

Kilgallon, who has been working in the industry for the past five years, says Monday night was “a freak occurrence . . . the feedback I got from people on the street was that [the reaction of the staff of Copper Face Jacks] was very good, and Cathal Jackson landed as the event took place and literally cleared the doors of his own club.”

Although UCD isn’t linked to the club in an official capacity, Kilgallon stresses the professionalism of Jackson and his staff.

Many clubs face queue problems. Brian Spollen, who used to run the popular Andrew’s Lane Theatre club off Dame Street in Dublin, explains a similar situation he encountered there in May 2012.

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