Pilly Willy

14 Feb 2017


It's 5am on the last night and someone’s trying to break the door down, but this time it’s s not the aggro wreck-the-buzz guy we had to lock out - it’s the nGardaí. A sheepish Dylan Kerr, wearing just a women's swimsuit, unlocks the door - ‘’Yes officer what seems to be the problem?’’


That's my cue. Topless, full of buckfast and still kinda unaware they are planning to take me in - ‘’I am :)’’.

Oh, misread the vibe! Flashlights are on and the music is off. As a last ditch effort to save the party a drunk 'bless her' girl confidently shouts ''We're not doing anything illegal!''. But - as she's instantly reminded - ''This is completely illegal!'' (something to do with endangering people, old buildings, locked doors and fires).

''You've 200 people locked in a rave and you put pictures of pills all over the windows - What did you think was going to happen!?''

Sergeant Sean from Pearse St Garda Station makes a fair point. We've rented an old college building literally around the corner from Dublin's biggest cop shop. We've decked it out with club gear and plastered it in fluorescent mitsi's - and gotten away with it for two weeks. The jig is up lads!

The idea was always to make our own club. A real clubhouse with all the normal good stuff, but that felt a bit more like us and wasn't gay or straight. Somewhere you can get your arse out in a swimsuit without having to explain it to some lad in a check shirt (no offence man, you're just sort of a buzz kill!). 

And we'd searched for months for any half-decent legal spot. But it's a grim ol' time for clubs and werido spaces in Dublin. So - can ya blame us Sergeant - we got the keys to an old college building in town and made our own. A bit of a gallery; a bit of a club; a shop and a BYOB Cocktail Bar involving a stolen freezer carried up onto a roof.

We're not the first crew who wanted to their place to party or who'd like to give their clubs a kick up the hole. And we’d half heard about the old crews and spots(the best ones were the gay parties from the days before decriminalisation and commercial 'queer' spaces) - ‘Powederbubble’, ‘H.A.M’, ‘Gag’, The Hirschfield Centre. And in an office in Clonmel there was an archive of sorts. I'd met Tonie Walsh a couple of months before and he'd told me about the boxes and boxes of flyers, posters and zines from every queer club, fetish night & freak party from the 1970s to the 00s. Several thousand in total.

So, half-because we needed a legit excuse to build our pseudo gallery-club; and half to shed a bit of light on the days-gone-by of qweirdo clubbing in Ireland, we brought 30 years worth of club flyers up on the bus from Tipperary to do a retrospective: 

(click this if you're on desktop it's v cool) Pilly Willy - Rave Epehemera from The Queer Underground 

We showed the best old dicks, butts and boobs to our mates and invited a heap of buzzers to fill the rest of the filthy old space with new ones. 

(Riso Pin-up by ItsOkay)

Big love to: Anja Maye, Byron Yeates, CLU, Donal Talbot, Dylan Kerr, Emil Hernon, ItsOkay, James Corcoran Hodgins, Jennifer Mehigan, Jordan McQuaid, Jordan Ralph, Joshua Gordon, Luek Brungis, Lugh O’ Neill, Mel Keane, Oscar Torrans.

We spent couple of weeks going up and down on the bus to Tonie's place, scanning and selecting flyers together and generally figuring out how the fuck we were gonna do it. And we had about 4 days to build the place.

To get the building I’d done a bonkers switcheroo with the guy(there's always a guy). His dad owned the building but he was a month or two earlier there’d been this thing going around online about a group of lads who’d put an inflatable pool (you know the ones from Argos) on the roof of a city centre building. I didn’t even know it was him - but I knew it was him.

But as always with these random buildings, everything is subject to go tits up. The dates change 100 times. It's double/triple booked. And on the night we arrive to start loading in there’s a crowd gathering outside. They’re here to see a dance performance in the dodgey basement. Now, I’ve done enough of these things now to know when to just let it be, so we just wished them well and head upstairs to turn the entire first floor into a pink lightbox. A couple of rolls of magenta car tinting film along with some scalpels, credit cards and a few bottles of soapy water. The unreal annoyin Youtube guy says there’s about a million crucial steps but we refined it down to two or three.

The next couple of days are a sweet blur of young lads and girls buzzing around with borrowed powertools that they absolutely don’t know how to use. *NB - good question to ask yourself going in is Can I build a club without even owning a drill?’. Weirdly enough the answer is yes - IF there’s a hardware store up the road that will let you borrow theirs until 5:30 every day. And, if you know a hero like Jordan Ralph who'll turn up the night before opening and put up all the structures for you <3

At times during the week we’re just sitting around smoking and talking about what we’re gonna wear to the opening party, or playing with 1000 fake Lidl bags that have arrived from China. Other times we’re flat out & I’m crying cause I have to rent the most expensive screen in the world cause our borrowed one fell through. 

But at the end of the day your mates have built a little diner out of breeze blocks and there's Indian food and beer and it looks like something out of a cool Enid Blyton book, so it's totally manageable. 

And for a week we have a little Pussy Palace. 

On the days we’re not hungover we’re there at 10am drinking coffee with Sean Cooley's distorted voice reverberating through a strobing windowless room, and it's a pretty trippy way to start the day. 

There’s a champagne bucket on the table for people to chuck coins in. Some people are cunts(‘it should be free’) but by the end of the week it’s about halfway full and tbh that bucket is still paying for hailos around the place ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The first day or two was mostly artists and their pals calling in, or people who left shit behind at the party. Then Art school and college kids coming down between classes (or skipping them altogether). Queerboys & girls who heard of it off dating apps. DJs, design heads and skater lads. Club Kids; and Club Grown-Ups who actually remembered the parties (including a tearful Niall Sweeney - who designed half of the archive). By the weekend, a couple of cool streetwear schoolboys decked out in Supreme came down to buy our gear, they even made it to the party with naggins from the Spar across the road. It was a weird mix but each day we had a steady trickle of people with nowhere else to be making the pilgrimage to Tara St for their insta pics.

We joke that one of us should have just stood outside with a bell shouting ''Insta pics! Get ya insta pics! 50 likes or your money back''.

And I doubt the flyers or the art meant as much(or anything at all) to everyone who came through. But it wasn't even really about that. It was more about celebrating this oddity and saying like ''Well if there's room for this here there's probably room for me and my buzz''. And any excuse to make our own club and throw a few parties. We wanna make a place to join the weirdness - and bring your own. Somewhere that can draw a loose circle around a bunch of very different heads, who might have nothing in common besides a bit of outsider energy. And we kinda feel like that's what what a club can do. 2017 and we've never been more ready for it(G'wan Ireland!!), but between recessions, clubs disappearing and gammy licensing laws it doesn't really exist in Dublin right now.

For a week though, even though the logos are just put up with sellotape, it does kinda feel like somewhere

- Pussys Club.

With Love & Thanks to The Tonie Walsh Collection ❤

Crew Love  ❤

Michael McGrath 

Cathal Berkeley

Mairtin O Lorcain 

Mark Geraghty 

Matty Gillen