‘We missed out on our glory years’: Nightclubs reopen after 19 months

Going ‘out out’ finally becomes possibility for many young people as clubs reopen

What’s a two-hour queue waiting in line when your social life has been put on hold for 19 months?

People started gathering outside Copper Face Jacks, Dublin’s most famous/infamous nightclub, from 7pm on Friday.

Coppers, as it is known, is often the last stop on a night, when you are, to quote Aisling from the bestselling series of novels, “out out”, but those who were venturing into a nightclub for the first time since March 2020 were taking no chances when it came to getting in.

The club was due to open at 9pm by which time the queue stretched halfway down Harcourt Street meeting another queue several hundred metres long at the side of the venue. The venue holds more than a thousand people. It was full by 9.45pm.


Two security staff checked the Covid certificate details of those entering who were only too eager to proffer their mobile phones with the confirmation that they were fully vaccinated.

It helped that their certificates doubled up as proof of age. Contact details were also taken.

I think it is just the right time. We are all vaccinated and I'm happy

The mood was exuberant. Proportionately, young people have spent far more of their lives in lockdown. They’ve missed birthdays, debs balls, fresher weeks graduation ceremonies and just being young.

The street hummed with pent-up energy.

"We have missed out, I wouldn't say on our childhood, but on our middle adulthood. We missed out on our glory years," said Jack Dunphy (19).

Alana Gill (22) from Wexford has not been in a nightclub for two years. "I'm a healthcare worker – a radiographer. I've seen the hard end of Covid, but I'm glad to get back in a club eventually. I think it is just the right time. We are all vaccinated and I'm happy."

Lea Marron (22) who arrived with her friend, Cora Ryan, both from Rathfarnham have not been in a nightclub for two years. Lea said: "I'm newly single and I just can't wait to go out."

Kelda Power (30) said Covid-19 meant she missed the last two years of her 20s. "Turning 30 was huge without going to a nightclub. We are going to make up for it."

The queues for the Tramline club in D’Olier Street were equally as long and stretched around the corner into Hawkins Street.

Buses and car drivers passing by honked their horns at those waiting patiently to get in and the crowd reciprocated with loud cheers. Vaccine certificates were checked by ambulance staff on the way in.

Tramline is for a younger age cohort between 18 and 20. Many have never been in an adult nightclub before.

At the bottom of the stairs into the venue was one of those ubiquitous yellow signs that everybody hopes to never see again.

“Stay home, stay safe, protect each other”. None of the 950 were intent on staying home on Friday night. On the contrary they were “out out” and determined to enjoy it.

The dancefloor was filled by 10.30pm. The spider webs and skeletons hanging from the ceiling for Halloween billowed under the newly installed air filtering system.

"We think 95 per cent of people in here have never been to a proper nightclub before," said manager Ian Redmond. "They will have memories for the rest of their lives and I'm excited that I'm the guy who is providing it for them.

“We are doing this very safely. Everyone has been checked. The staff are all wearing masks. People have been compliant and very responsible.”

There was much consternation on social media about the lengthy queues outside nightclubs when Covid-19 cases are creeping up to 2,500 a day at present. “I’d rather them than me,” was a common sentiment for those staying at home, but others felt that young people deserved a night out after being cooped up and confined for so long.

If it is good enough for Prof Christine Loscher, an immunologist based in Dublin City University (DCU), for Nphet and for the Government all who support the opening of nightclubs, it is good enough for me, Mr Redmond stated.

“The risk of transmission in here is very low. We have to get on with what we have to do,” he declared.

You are having a quick beer and by the time there's live music, you'll have to leave if you don't have a ticket

The Lost Lane nightclub off Grafton Street had a one-way system for drinks and two metres distancing at the bar delineated by yellow signs.

Manager David Morrissey said Government guidelines that nightclubs be ticketed events is "unworkable"and will target pubs that have live music sessions in the afternoon.

“You arrive into a bar at 8pm. You are having a quick beer and by the time there’s live music, you’ll have to leave if you don’t have a ticket,” he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times