Lillie’s Bordello, the Dublin nightclub that shut its doors for the final time in January, reopens on Friday as Lost Lane, a music and entertainment venue that has been in the works for the better part of a year.
Elliot Hughes of its owner, the Porterhouse group, says he was determined to differentiate it from Lillie's. For one thing, he wanted to move away from the venue's strict admission policy and signature crimson interiors. "From the start we said there's no exclusivity and there's no red," Hughes says. So no wristbands, no cordoned-off areas, no VIPs.
The music and entertainment will be overseen by Una Molloy, of the music agency Turning Pirate. "They really had their ideas in the right place in terms of what Dublin needs," she says. "We wanted to build a sense of community and collaboration."
Many of the changes have been aesthetic rather than structural. The most notable physical transformation is that one of the bars has moved to the opposite side of its room.
Lost Lane has plenty of space to dance, but with seating nearby, too. “You want to be able to let loose on the dance floor, but you also want to sit down and have a chat with your pals, and not wake up with a sore throat from screaming all night,” Molloy says.
With its late opening, Molloy and Hughes see it as a good spot for a postgig pint. Lost Lane will serve Porterhouse’s own beers plus six guest beers, as well as having a can fridge. In other words, customers can expect “a decent beer in a glass as opposed to a beer in a plastic cup”.
Although the venue is smaller than a lot of Dublin’s other music venues, Hughes says that’s part of the appeal. “I want customers to have their best experiences of seeing a band here,” he says.
And of hearing them, too: the 34-speaker sound system, designed by Toby Hatchett, who has also worked on Hang Dai and the Big Romance, is arguably the most impressive feature of the venue.
Lost Lane will kick off on Friday with live performances from Kormac and Booka Brass. (Gigs are also coming up from David Kitt, Wyvern Lingo, Le Galaxie and Delorentos.)
The venue will launch its two new resident club nights, too: Lost & Sound is a collaboration between the DJs Sally Cinnamon, Claire Beck and Kate Brennan-Harding; Spacer will feature tunes from Nialler9 and guests.
There'll also be an assortment of one-off creative collaborations. Turning Pirate Lost Lane Mix Tape, for example, will see a selection of well-known Irish musicians come together to sing their favourite guilty pleasures. The first edition, on Saturday, features Cathy Davey and Niamh Farrell.
The Very Round Robin Show will feature disparate artists performing together for an "old-style music show". The first bill includes John Spillane, Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Pauline Scanlon.
Such diversity should help broaden Lost Lane’s appeal. “There’s a lot of people who never would have wanted to come to Lillie’s, and they’re the people who probably will be coming in here,” says Hughes.
The days of hearing M People at Lillie’s are long behind us. A new era has begun. “We’re looking forward to being a part of the music community,” Molloy says.