Sensory delights for Dublin clubbers

Food jockeys offered sweets and other nibbles to match the acts at Sencity, Dublin. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Food jockeys offered sweets and other nibbles to match the acts at Sencity, Dublin. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters


It was a gig like nothing you’ve heard before - or, for that matter, seen, smelled, tasted or felt. Partygoers at Sencity at the RDS in Dublin at the weekend were treated to a live music extravaganza for all the senses.

Almost 900 people attended the multisensory event on Saturday night, which is aimed at people both with and without hearing abilities and was taking place in Ireland for the first time. Many had travelled from within Ireland and even further afield to attend.

For Rosanna Demkes (27) from the Netherlands, this was her 11th Sencity. Asked what it was that kept her coming back for more, she replied: “It’s the people, it’s the culture, it’s the vibe. There’s nothing like it, it stimulates all the senses.”

When Damien Owens (37), a community resource officer from Clara, Co Offaly, heard of the event, he was determined to travel to Dublin for it. “It’s wonderful and definitely worth the trip. I would definitely recommend it to other deaf people” he said.

“It’s about being able to feel that link to music that we never had before. You can feel the beat, the vibrations, it’s fantastic.”

At the centre of the hall was a vibrating dancefloor. It quickly got crowded, as people flocked to quite literally feel the music. A giant screen behind the stage flashed images and lyrics in time with the music, while exuberant sign dancers translated the songs into sign language.

“When I stood on the dancefloor I could really feel the vibrations, it was unreal,” said Denise Dowling (28), a teacher from Cork who is deaf. “And visually it’s amazing, the lighting, the words, the sign dancers, I’m completely distracted by everything that’s going on visually.”

Food jockeys offered sweets and other nibbles to match the acts, while aroma jockeys used giant fans to send scents across the dancefloor.

“It’s about finding the right scent to express the emotions of the songs,” said aroma jockey Zuzana Amoakoova as she poured essential oils into a bubbly, frothy mixture. “We’re like witches who prepare a kind of brew.”

Partygoers could also try out pole dancing, get their hair done in a wacky style, have their face and arms decorated with glowing make-up, and even have a massage.

First act the Wonder Villains got the night off to a bounding start, their youthful, giddy music accompanied by sweet and citrusy scents, while a variety of fizzy sweets were on offer.

“It was a really cool dynamic, it wasn’t just us four on stage,”

Eimear Coyle of the Wonder Villains said afterwards. “We were only a small part of the whole performance.”

Minutes into Torann Drums’ blazing set, the seven men on stage were sweating and gyrating and tearing off their shirts and ties. Their performance was accompanied by musky wafts of aftershave-type smells, while wasabi peas were offered for delectation - it was all very spicy indeed.

The highlight of the night was the energetic performance from deaf Finnish rap artist Signmark, who had the crowd in the palm of his hand, especially when it came to the amusing repartee with his sign interpreter.

The event is about more than simply bringing deaf and hearing people together, said Ronald Ligtenberg, director of the Skyway Foundation in the Netherlands, which organises Sencity. “The main purpose is to inspire people that you can make the impossible possible.”

For the 16 deaf and hard-of-hearing volunteers who got involved in organising the Dublin event, Mr Ligtenberg believes it has had an empowering effect. “These are people who have been treated all their lives as people who cannot do something and now they’re realising they can do something that is better than what the regular club scene has to offer.”

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