Ready to roll: all change at alcohol-free club

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From The Irish Times


IRISH LIVES: For Dubliner Joseph Quinn, today is all about last-minute arrangements as he prepares to launch the latest addition to the capital ’s social scene.

There are DJs to call, sound systems to check and rooms to be dressed for his first nightclub event tonight: the opening of Flux in the Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin.

What Quinn doesn ’t have to worry about are licensing regulations or trouble posed by punters who have been drinking all night. Flux is the newest alcohol and drug-free nightclub in the capital, a sober Saturday night oasis in the middle of beer-soaked Temple Bar.

The security personnel on the door of the club are  “happy bouncers ” more concerned with welcoming the 100 or so clubbers  – most of whom have pre-booked to attend  – than keeping an eye out for alcohol-related ructions.

Chucking-out time

It will probably be the Dublin nightclub with the latest closing time too, with no pesky licensing laws to dictate chucking-out time.

Something of a slow-burning sobriety movement has been growing in Dublin in recent years.

David Mooney ’s monthly Funky Seomra alcohol-free event has blossomed in the RDS. David Maher ’s meet-up group, A Sober Slice of Dublin, attracts more than 1,000 members.

An alcohol-free session called The Dance is pulling the crowds to a Methodist hall in Ranelagh, while Accents, the late night coffee lounge in the city centre, has had success with alcohol-free comedy events. There is even an app,, which offers people alternatives to alcohol based socialising.

Anna Young, the woman behind Accents, has talked about her bid to  “make sober sexy ”. Now Quinn is joining the fray with his monthly club where instead of beer, there will be green tea, raw food snacks and massages on tap.  “And lots of dancing, ” he says.  “The music is the most important ingredient and while there ’s no alcohol, Flux will have that distinctive nightclub feel ”.

Quinn himself has never taken alcohol, a fact he says may have something to do with growing up around parents Michael and Patricia, both passionate advocates of health and proper nutrition.  “Not drinking in this country you can sometimes feel like an alien, ” he says.

He remembers as a teenager being offered a drink and thinking it was disgusting.  “But the person offering it to me kept saying  ‘here have a couple, after a while you will forget about the taste ’, but I just couldn ’t see the point of drinking something that tasted so bad to me. ”

It didn ’t put him off socialising even though most of his friends were drinkers.  “I love music and I love dancing. I went with my friends to all the clubs and it was only later on that I figured out that for many Irish people, dancing is something that can only be done with a few drinks on board. I felt lucky that I just never needed it. ”

He danced hard and worked hard, first embarking on a career in television production and then switching direction to sell conservatories, flogging so many of them in the boom years that he could afford to buy his own house at 26.

Fear of  “burn-out ” led him to switch careers again to auctioneering until the recession derailed that sector.

It was a difficult time but he says he learned a lot. When his new-found career was floundering, the free time allowed him time to pursue other interests, which eventually led him to an alcohol-free club.

 “It was the first time in years that I hadn ’t been working solidly. So I had the time to discover all these brilliant people who were involved in a beautiful and creative scene that was exploding in Dublin, ” he says.

He attended Biodanza classes, learning about the method of self-expression through dance created in Chile in the 1960s by psychology professor Rolando Toro Araneda and Embodiment, a form of ecstatic dance and movement meditation.

Alternative social scene

Paul Congdon ’s Buddha Bag events, where people gather to learn about a range of spiritual teachings and techniques, and alcohol-free festival Funky Seomra, were other initiatives that opened him up to Dublin ’s alternative social scene.

 “There was this incredible energy at these events, none of them were based around alcohol and I found that very inspiring, ” he says.

About this time he started going back to the conventional clubs of his youth and couldn ’t believe how little had changed.  “They were exactly the same. Nothing had moved on and so I started to think about what I could add to the nightclub scene. ”

He has been working on Flux for about a year and says from his experience, there are a lot of puzzled looks and blank faces when your opening pitch to potential collaborators is  “I want to open a drug- and alcohol-free nightclub ”.

Luckily, the people behind the Temple Bar Music Centre saw potential in the idea.

 “I think this is a time when people are asking questions and challenging a lot of things including the notions we have about ourselves, one of them being that we can only enjoy ourselves with alcohol. ”

He says creating an authentic nightclub setting without alcohol is a challenge that requires an imaginative approach. When we spoke he was trying to track down a table tennis table for those not keen on dancing.

 “My aim is to create a safe space for people where they can be themselves, get inspired and connect with other people in a real way. ”

For more information or to pre- book a place at Flux, Temple Bar Music Centre, tonight, call 087- 1872845. Tickets are  €10 if pre-booked or  €15 on the door.