Gig of the week: A sad farewell to District 8

Aparthotel is a dirty word. As well as gobbling up spaces that could be used for long-term and affordable housing, this type of accommodation is also devouring the venues that support the nation’s live music scene. The latest victim is the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin, the home to Christmas pantos and to the dance and techno (and everything in between) club night District 8.

The final District 8 dance event on January 26th (€12.82-€44.54) will be the last time that the Tivoli serves as a club venue before it’s turned into a 289-bed aparthotel in the Liberties area of Dublin, reducing the number of medium-sized music venues in Ireland that can fill the gap of playing to smaller venues such as Whelan’s before going on to play the career milestone venues such as the Olympia or 3Arena. On the bill for the night, it’s a mix of big international names such as Kiasmos (that’s Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen of the Faroe Islands) and the “baron of techno” Dave Clarke playing alongside celebrated and adored local DJs such as Jon Hussey, Sunil Sharpe, DJ Deece, Cailín and DJs from Hidden Agenda – the live music promotions company behind District 8.

With two indoor stages and its large, sprawling smoking area slash car park, the size and the layout of District 8 makes it was the perfect fit for gigs, club nights and day-long parties. In recent years, the venue has worked with Mother, a queer disco and electro club night, to mark historic days such as the overwhelming Yes result in 2015’s marriage referendum – now known as the annual Yestival event, which has seen performances from Peaches, Rubberbandits, Kojaque, Le Galaxie, Dmitri from Paris and Sophie Ellis-Bextor – and it has been home to Mother’s annual Pride Block Party since 2015, bringing in the eclectic mix of performances from Swedish Eurovision 2012 winner Loreen, Bray’s Wyvern Lingo and Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle, plus DJ sets from Studio 54 legend Nicky Siano and Scissor Sister’s Jake Shears and Ana Matronic.

District 8 has used the Tivoli as a base since 2014. Past events read like a who’s who of the dance world from the last 30 years: Groove Armada, Deadmau5, Bicep, Camelphat, Mano Le Tough, Todd Terje, Tiga, DJ Koze, Daniel Avery, Peggy Gou, John Talabot, Vitalic, Boys Noize, Jeff Mills, Pantha Du Prince, Floating Points and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs are just some of the headliners who have played to a full house here.

Picking up from where the joint spaces of Harcourt Street’s Crawdaddy and Tripod left off in 2012, Tivoli, District 8 and Hidden Agenda filled that void. While smaller venues and late night bars host sweaty sessions and niche parties, the hum of Dublin night life is buzzing at a lower frequency thanks to high rents, archaic licensing laws, restrictive opening hours – not to mention venues being converted into aparthotels.

However, as District 8 invites us in to dance one last time in the Tivoli, the Give Us the Night collective are campaigning for positive changes to nightlife in Ireland for DJs, producers, performers, promoters and hardcore and fair-weather music fans alike. This gig might be District 8’s final dance, but we’ve to make sure it’s not ours.

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