Making choices not easy on Culture Night
ON TEMPORARILY car-free South Frederick Street in Dublin last night Geisha-inspired burlesque performers struck poses in sequined stockings.
They were performing at Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art School life drawing/cabaret class. For retired dentist Liam Convery it brought to mind his student days when he had to draw the well-defined muscles of Army soldiers as part of his training.
He stood, bicycle helmet in hand, recalling this as cakes were handed out as prizes for the most impressive drawings. You could see he was tempted to take up a pencil himself but he moved on because this was just the beginning of Culture Night and like all the wisest participants he was pacing himself.
This was the sensible approach because there was so much to take in and all those crowds to navigate, an estimated 150,000 taking to the city’s streets last night. People pushed buggies through a very different kind of Friday night in Temple Bar and children ran around the grounds of Dublin Castle.
On Molesworth Street there were hundreds of people queuing patiently outside the Freemasons’ Hall. This is always one of the most popular spots on Culture Night, which started with a modest number of venues seven years ago and now sees people attending free events at nearly 1,000 venues across the country.
Almost 3,000 people trooped through the meeting rooms to hear tales of secret handshakes and ceremonies and the Knights Templar.
Outside Deirdre Docherty said she had been intrigued by the secretive nature of the organisation and learned it was like an “instant buddy system”. She was a Culture Night regular. “It’s just a great, friendly vibe, a happy family night,” she said.
In Government Buildings all the tours of the Dáil had been pre-booked and 275 people per hour were taking in the sights. Maeve and Michael Cadwell had come with their daughter Gráinne Kinch and her husband Darren. “None of us has ever been here in our lives,” said Michael. “I had to come to see where all our money has gone.”
Sisters Sarah (19) and Aisling (15) Tracey were more interested in the architecture. “It’s beautiful,” said Sarah standing in the Dáil chamber.
She was looking forward to an Oscar Wilde tour later and maybe some free piano lessons.
Across the city families could be heard conducting heated debates about where to go next. Denis Mawe (11), who once lived in Japan, looked as though he could have stayed all night watching members of the Dublin martial arts school Bujinkan Meehan Dojo.
The boy’s father Tim was hoping to see St Valentine’s heart but wasn’t certain that he’d secure agreement from the rest of the family. “There’s such a lot to choose from in just a few hours that it’s overwhelming, but in a good way,” he said.
The night coincided with World Park(ing) Day when car parking spaces are used for something more imaginative than just a car. The Green Party’s Eamon Ryan was in charge of the one on South Frederick Street where he had erected a disco ball for his music event, “Play and Display”. “Every home should have one,” he said, pointing at the sparkly sphere.
Taking in the scene nearby organiser Dermot McLaughlin from the Temple Bar Cultural Trust said the event this year was bigger than ever with 300,000 people taking part across the country. “We’ve been measuring ourselves by very different barometers in this country in recent years but tonight is about tapping in to our brains, our spirits and our creativity, which is the kind of nourishment that will get us through the next few dark months,” he said.