I recently went to a gig up in Limerick with a few of my friends. The headliner was a guy called Patrick Topping, a tech-house DJ who I had naturally become familiarised with through his presence on almost every user-created Soundcloud playlist in the Republic of Ireland. The gig was set for early in the Christmas holidays, and my anticipation for it slowly grew and spread from the back of my mind as the Winter exams wound to a close. My excitement wasn’t just for the music, though – it was for the whole affair. We had a gaff to ourselves, money saved up, and a dulling academia-induced hangover that we all desperately wanted to exchange for the excruciating pleasure of a real one.
To say that the only thing on my mind was excitement, however, wouldn’t be entirely truthful. As we hopped on the bus heading to Limerick from Parnell Place, cautionary tales from friends and family sat stubbornly in the back of my mind, unwilling to be suffocated by the warm clouds of alcohol already in my system. I wouldn’t say that I was worried, but the amount of warnings and horror stories that I had been subjected to in the days leading up to the event were hard to ignore. No conversation about the gig ran its course without a “make sure you mind yourself, Limerick can be a rough place”, or a “just be careful and don’t be talking shite to people”. Friends recited brutal tales of stabbings and ATM robberies that they’d heard from this fella or that wan. I wasn’t sure how much of it to believe; but since I’d never been on a night out in Limerick before, these stories of foreboding became the closest things I had to a perspective on the city. It didn’t bother me too much, I’d always believed that you generally only find trouble on a night out if you go looking for it – maybe a bit naïve, but it had proved true for me thus far.
The bus rolled on, and my negative thoughts had almost fully subsided by the time we stepped off in Limerick station. The night was perfect – not a whisper of a breeze and just about warm enough to allow for strolling about in a t-shirt. One more short bus trip later and we had arrived at the house. It was a small student accommodation – suited us grand. The buzz was just building and building as the minutes rolled on, and after a quick expedition to the offie, the night started to pick up the pace. It wasn’t long before we were piling clumsily into a taxi and making our way towards the venue. From the minute we bounced out of the taxi and joined the queue outside of the club, the atmosphere was feeling good. We immediately started chatting to a group of lads, who ensured us that the sound system in this club was like nothing we had ever heard, and that we were in for a seriously good night. Everywhere I looked I saw nothing but people laughing and bouncing around; it seemed like the only thing that mattered to any of us was the next four hours of our lives. From that point on, the night only got better. The bouncers were more sound than I had ever experienced, unbothered by who you were or what form of ID you brought as long as it was legitimate. The club was unlike any I had ever been to: the gated entrance sloped down to a huge Astro-Turf smoking area, which was already littered with bodies. Inside the club felt like a sort of dungeon, which was illuminated wildly by explosive bursts of LEDs. Tunes were blaring, jaeger-bombs were tasty, and so the night went on. Patrick Topping played an almost-three hour set, above a dancefloor so packed that any sort of walking around the club became a sort of tactical mission.
I didn’t notice until much later that all my feelings of wariness that I had developed, every warning and word of caution that I had received over the previous weeks had completely exited my headspace about twenty minutes into the set. It was like negative energy and negative thoughts did not exist in that particular club on that particular night. I had seriously never seen anything like it. There was not one scrap, or even light scuffle – which are almost mathematical certainties in club full of a hundred different lads who all think they’re Conor McGregor and/or Thomas Shelby after a few double whiskeys and a pint of Beamish (you know the sort). But on this particular night, for whatever reason (supernatural or otherwise), there was no hassle at all. As the night came to a close, I found myself smiling at the realisation that every person who warned me to brace myself for a rough night was completely wrong. Ironically enough, it was probably the most easy-going night out that I’d been on in months. A night that reminded me of what can happen when people come together with purely good intentions – to dance, have a laugh, and enjoy the music.