Can we go dancing this weekend? ‘We’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen’

Venue owners are frustrated at Government’s muddled message on lifting restrictions

On Saturday night  country music star Michael English will be on stage at the Well in Moate, Co Westmeath, which has become a dancing mecca for people from all over the country. Photograph: Getty Images

On Saturday night country music star Michael English will be on stage at the Well in Moate, Co Westmeath, which has become a dancing mecca for people from all over the country. Photograph: Getty Images

 

It’s 2.30pm on Wednesday and Declan Manton of The Well in Moate, Co Westmeath is very frustrated as he awaits details of what he can and cannot do at his premises this weekend.

On Saturday night he will have country music star Michael English on stage at the venue which has become a dancing mecca for people from all over the country.

“We’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen. We presume it will be dancing, it should be dancing, but we don’t know if that will be allowed or not because of what was said yesterday.”

For lovers of country music and social dancing The Well is something of an institution, attracting dancers from all over the country. Up until recently the popular venue hosted regular outdoor events.

“I had a structure outdoors for the last few weeks and it went down a bomb. Okay, there’s only so much outdoors you can do – I mean, we’re into winter months now, we were very lucky with the weather the last five or six weeks, but the weather’s going to take a change, it’s going to get colder.”

Manton is also a music promoter and is deeply frustrated by the confusion surrounding the reopening of the sector.

“It was very, very vague and I got a message from the vintners [Licenced Vintners Association] that it would be sorted out by this morning, but that didn’t happen.

Unfair

“We have to get staff and stock in and door staff, it’s very unfair the way it’s all being handled. This should have been done before the announcement because how is a bar with a two-piece band in the corner to operate? You can’t dance to that. What I want to know for The Well is whether it can go ahead or not.

“It’s so disappointing the way it’s been handled by the Government – for the band lads and for the promoters and the venues. Why don’t they bring in the bodies [representatives], the vintners and sit down and talk to them. They know what they’re talking about, the Government doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Another music promoter, Paul Claffey, is also eagerly awaiting clarification for a concert (coincidentally also with Michael English) which is due to take place in the Tullamore Court Hotel next Wednesday, October 27th.

“We know the numbers will be limited, but I’m not sure exactly how many. I think it will be 60 per cent capacity which would be 450; in the past we could have had up to 900 at a concert like that.” Attendance at the concert will be for Covid cert holders only, there will be no dancing and no bar in the ballroom, he explains.

Claffey is sympathetic about the dilemma facing Manton, especially with a gig like Saturday’s which would usually attract a large crowd. “It seems unfair that if it was deemed a nightclub it could go ahead, but with a live band it can’t go ahead [with dancing].

“Most of the work for bands is dances, their livelihoods are being impacted. The confusion is not fair, it’s all very murky.”