Get Back In The Kitchen

 

Iconic Dublin nightclub the Kitchen is to reopen in its original home under the Clarence Hotel – but the question on everyone’s lips is: Will it still have a moat?

SIDES, THE FUNNEL, Columbia Mills . . . Dublin has had its share of legendary, defunct dance venues. Each generation had a “you had to be there” space beloved of clubbers.

Owned by U2, the Kitchen opened in the basement of Dublin’s Clarence Hotel in 1994 and became the club hotspot until the strobe lights were turned off in 2002.

Nine years on, the club has re-opened and hopes to revisit its halcyon days. Johnny Moy was one of the club’s best known DJs, and had a weekly residency that lasted three years. “I used to play every Thursday and it became a band’s night out in that Bono, Edge and the lads would usually show up. Lots of other DJs would come to hang out, and whenever there was a band in town for the night, that’s where they’d head to afterwards.”

Moy ran Influx, a mish-mash of funk, house, techno, hip hop – one of the best club nights the city ever had. “I have great memories of those times,” he says. “It was one of the first clubs that had an open-minded music policy. You’d hear hip-hop and The Clash in the same set. I remember James Lavelle came over one St Stephen’s night to DJ and played Oasis to a room full of clubbers. No one was expecting it, but everybody went crazy, loving it.”

This writer remembers nights dancing to Jon Carter, Slam, David Holmes and a slew of international names who were handy with a couple of 12-inches. Visiting actors, models, bands and producers were often found at the bar or in the VIP section.

The venue itself was deceptively small, with warren-like corridors. One cocktail too many and finding your way back to your friends required navigational skills worthy of the Crystal Maze.

The dancefloor was compact, usually heaving, and surrounded by one of the most bizarre architectural features ever – a moat. Drinks were dropped in it, coats regularly fell into its fluorescent waters, and I once saw a chap dancing gleefully in it, before security had a word.

“The moat is one of the first things people ask me about when I tell them the club is re-opening,” laughs Lorcan Mak. The 22-year-old is part of the new wave of DJs hosting a regular night at the club. The NCAD Fine Art student will run Takeback Thursdays at the venue, playing “upfront and tech house”.

“Lots of my peers are older, so I was really aware of the history. There’s a lot of interest in the venue re-opening and Dublin is really missing a true dance venue,” he says.

The club will open five nights a week, from 11pm-4am. There’s something lined up for most musical tastes, with electro on Wednesdays, drum’n’bass on Fridays, old and new dance on Saturdays and a gay night on Sundays.

Johnny Moy, who now manages Shit Robot and the artist Maser, admits the market is crowded, but hopes that Kitchen 2.0 prospers. “It’s great that it’s back and the public seem delighted, too.”


The Kitchen, East Essex Street, Dublin 2 (Wednesdays – Sundays, 11pm). thekitchennightclub.com