‘I missed it deeply’: Nightclubs reopen for first time in more than 18 months

Clubbers will hope the pilot event at Button Factory in Dublin will see a return to normal

There was no mistaking the sense of joy and no little relief when the first nightclub opened up in the Republic in more than 18 months.

For the clubbers, the promoters and the DJs involved this was an event that so many of them feared would never come as the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on longer than most people imagined was possible.

It has been the longest time for all of those who queued outside the Button Factory in Dublin's Temple Bar for what was billed as a test event, but felt like the return of some kind of normality.

The last 18 months have left their mark. One security guard barked at a few women in the queue who were taking off their masks for the photographers.


There was a black tent at which people queued to do the antigen tests that were necessary to get access to the event along with their Covid digital certificates to show that they had been fully vaccinated.

Leah O’Connell arrived prepared having booked a slot between 10 and 4 to get antigen tested in advance of attending the nightclub.

“It was 15 minutes in and out in the queue and then they came back to us with an email telling us that we were safe to go tonight,” she said.

Antigen testing

The Minister for Culture Catherine Martin has stated that she is waiting on the advice of the expert group on antigen testing to determine if they should be introduced for nightclubs when all restrictions are lifted on October 22nd.

If it does become a permanent feature, attention will turn to popular Saturday night clubbing spots around the country in the run-up to Christmas.

A few in the Button Factory crowd had been clubbing abroad, but there is no place like clubbing at home.

"We went to one in Spain, but it didn't feel safe because it wasn't regulated at all," said Andrea Dalton who arrived with two of her friends. "And now we are going to the first club event. It is so exciting."

"I was in Ibiza," said Sean Hyland referring to the European capital of clubbing, "and we weren't allowed to dance. This will make up for it tonight."

Evan Smith, who is a DJ, said he was looking forward to listening to other DJs. "I missed it deeply. To see other DJs playing music and people dancing on the dancing floor, it is going to be great."

Once the antigen tests and Covid-19 digital certificates were shown, the masks came off.

Aside from the hand santisers at the bar, it was hard to believe there ever had been a pandemic. This is what freedom looks and sounds like.

"The whole buzz of it is very real. It is mad to even see a nightclub with bouncers even when they tell me my age card is fake because it is in black and white," said Isobel Dunne.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times