The Craic Squad: How to sort out your party entertainment
Whether it’s a DJ, band, circus troupe, murder mystery night or blindfolded backward races, you need the right crew to make your party swing
The Love Olympics. Photograph: Ruth Medjber
To kick off a party, one may need to enlist the help of a craic expert. Luckily, we have no shortage of revelry administrators in Ireland.
A great party needs a great party DJ, and Ed Smith is one of those DJs. He’s been a producer and presenter on Today FM for nearly 20 years and has been DJing around Dublin for 15 years. He has a natural affinity for indie floor-fillers but he loves to keep things interesting for himself and the punters by mixing it up with soul, funk, dance, r’n’b and classic pop. “A good song is a good song,” he says, “so there’s no room for snobbery on any dance floor I’m minding. As long as they’re dancing, my work is done.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For party people who are looking to be pleasantly surprised with unknown disco gems and forgotten classics, DJ Sally Cinnamon is one of the country’s finest record selectors. You might have caught her set at the Wonderlust Stage at the Body & Soul festival this summer, where she dropped her signature tune, Hollywood Seven by Mike Simonetti and Jonny Jewell. She loves mixing it up by playing music people may not have heard but that she knows they are really going to love. You just have to trust Sally Cinnamon as she takes you on a journey. Trust me, it’ll be a good trip. (email@example.com)
For those with all-encompassing tastes, Aidan Kavanagh has 20 years’ experience behind him and his record collection reflects that. This guy is eclectic. From Bhangra beats to 80s American punk-pop to calypso to swing, Kavanagh loves making people dance whether it’s at a wedding or a garden party. (aidankavanagh.com)
If you’re hoping to make a statement with your tunes, Mr Whippy Soundsystem will certainly help you achieve that. Mr Whippy is a long-time record collector and designer who converted a vintage 1972 Ford Transit ice cream van into a vinyl record treasure trove and DJ booth. (mrwhippysoundsystem.com)
If it’s live music you’re after, among the best party bands in the country are Tongue in Chic (facebook.com/pg/tongueinchicband). Inspired by the work of Nile Rodgers, they specialise in disco, 80s pop and funk. Gin ’n’ Juice (facebook.com/ginandjuicemusic) are the king and queens of 90s classics, r’n’b and a dash of hip-hop, while Pop Gods (facebook.com/popgods) are, well, pop gods. Off The Wall (offthewallireland.com) are a party band with serious musical chops who play everything from Chic to The Supremes, and Justin Timberlake to Daft Punk. After Party (afterparty.ie) are similarly eclectic, taking in Stevie Nicks, Amy Winehouse, AC/DC and Bruno Mars in their setlist.
But what about if you’re looking for a party vibe that’s a little more mellow? I adore Grace O’Connell’s Carve Workshops (carveworkshops.com). O’Connell brings everything you need to do a jewellery-making workshop for you and up to 14 of your friends. O’Connell does regular workshops around the country, including one in Tribeton in Galway on October 7th and Slice Cafe in Dublin on October 22nd, so why not try one out to see if it’s the right fit for your upcoming party?
Joanne Condon from Kyle Lane (kylelane.ie) in Limerick specialises in upcycled furniture workshops. She can bring her upcycling skills to your party and work with small groups to fancy up your furniture. Or what about a Modern Calligraphy station at your shindig? Eithna Joyce runs regular workshops in Galway and Dublin, and hosts workshops at private parties for up to 12 people. Find Joyce’s work on Facebook and Instagram @enjoycalligraphy.
For something more chilling than chilled, Murder on the Menu (murderonthemenu.ie) will stir things up at your party with a heavy dose of suspense. Their menu includes a choice of five murder set-ups and since they launched in Galway in 2013, they’ve hosted over 200 Murder Mystery parties.
If your guests haven’t reached double-digits in age just yet and are serious bookworms, The Book Clinic could be the addition you’ve been looking for. Hosted by Children’s Books Ireland (childrensbooksireland.ie), their Book Doctors travel the country doling out prescriptions for exciting new reads. The Book Doctor’s consultation will start with questions about books the young reader previously enjoyed, so that the perfect prescription can be administered and a stamp can be added to the patient’s Reading Passport. Contact Aoife on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Whether you’re catering for guests that are young or just young at heart, Fanzini Productions (fanzini.ie) might be the crew for you. This circus troupe is home to Professor Plunger, The Fanzini Brothers and The Circus Jukebox. These guys are clever, surreal and not just a little bit silly.
For the clumsy and the co-ordinated alike, The Love Olympics (facebook.com/loveolympics) are famed for their legendary tumbling marathons and blindfolded backwards races. Hosted by Anna Bates, Ger O’Keeffe and Dave Dunn, these messers specialise in competitive craic.