With the news that Ri-Rá may soon be no more, here’s a trip through the iconic Dublin venue’s flyer artwork

The news that Dublin City Council has given the go-ahead for iconic venues The Globe and Ri-Rá to be partly demolished to make way for the planned expansion of the Central Hotel is the sort of depressing news we’ve come to expect in this most unprecedented of years.

As part of the planned revamp by Exchequer Developments Ltd, which will expand the Central Hotel on to South Great George’s Street and Dame Court, the Ri-Rá space is reportedly going to be revamped as a ‘speakeasy’, with The Globe making way for a retail outlet.

Among those to vocally oppose the development has been Labour senator Ivana Bacik, who noted on her blog a few weeks back that the construction would be a “retrograde step, which would remove another Dublin City late-night venue”, while Green councillor Claire Byrne observed, “We are running out of places to dance.”

As of last Friday, there were hopeful signs that Ri-Rá’s status as a dance venue may be retained, at least to some degree, with lobby group Give Us The Night saying that they had spoken to BCP Capital, which is funding the construction, directly, and that the investment firm has ‘committed to keeping it as a place to dance. So we are hopeful that not all is lost and that future generations can continue to dance there’.

But at a broader level, it does seem that another piece of the beating heart of the Irish capital will soon fade into history.

The Globe and Ri-Rá were opened by Eoin Foyle and Jay Bourke in 1993, and were soon on a mission to “deliver sounds for groovers of every musical persuasion,” as the Evening Herald described it a few months after opening.

At the time, while the Celtic Tiger was still in nappies, Dublin was developing a reputation as a nightlife capital, with the increasing array of midweek events in Ri-Rá adding weight to this claim.

This included nights like Swirl, Disco 2000, Tongue & Groove, Sleep, Ju Ju Club, Funk Off, Swanky, Boogie An Domhain and of course Strictly Handbag (formerly of Powers Hotel, The Pod and The Kitchen), which under the guidance of the late Martin Thomas, made the club its permanent home in the late 90s and never looked back… even if the music didn’t grab you, you could still while away the evening constructing one of the club’s flyer ‘handbags’, designed by Brian Nolan.

“Music with words for your dancing pleasure”, was how Thomas described Strictly Handbag. Or, in the words of The Irish Times, “It’s like being at a wedding reception every Monday night.”

Or any other night for that matter… 🙂

With that in mind, here’s a selection of flyers from Ri-Rá’s various club nights back in the 90s… a time when midweek partying was at its peak, and there were few venues better than the Dame Court basement in which to cut a rug. Keep an eye out for the stunning Willpower pieces by renowned artist David Begley – arguably the most aesthetically impressive flyers in Dublin’s clubbing history.

[Use the arrows to scroll from right to left.]

[Thanks to Aoife Nic Canna, Venetia Quick, Julie Ann Smith, Francois and Liz Dunphy for the flyers]

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