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This Galway club night for people with intellectual disabilities is coming to Dublin

Bounce club night is part of the Dublin Dance Festival.

James O'Connell working the decks on a Bounce club night.
James O'Connell working the decks on a Bounce club night.
Image: Alison McDonnell-White

BOUNCE, A CLUB night for adults with intellectual disabilities in Galway, is coming to the Dublin Dance festival. 

Started two years ago, Bounce takes place once a month in Galway’s Roísín Dubh and is supported by That’s Life, an arts programme of the Brothers of Charity Services.

All of the DJs and VJs performing have intellectual disabilities and have been learning their skills through a DJing workshop organised by That’s Life.

Bounce will be taking over the Button Factory on May 17 for the festival. We spoke to music coordinator of That’s Life Andrew Madec, who’s been busy preparing for the gig.

“We had been trying to put on music events for people with intellectual disabilities for many years,” he said.

And one of the main manifestations of that was Club Tropicana, which was a yearly clubbing and live music event.

Pic 6 That's Life VJ trainer Gerald Glynn working with Nigel Farag on a Bounce night in Galway. Source: Alison McDonnell-White

He said he and the team at That’s Life wanted to create more opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to get out and socialise, and for the DJs to have a chance to perform, other than at one yearly event.

There was a lot of pressure from people saying we want a lot more events like this to go too.

“A lot of the issues we found with various types of discos and things like that is often times they might be in a school hall or a function room in a hotel,” he said.

And we found that that’s not really a clubbing night out.

Bounce proved so popular that people were coming from Clifden and Ballina (Co Mayo) for the opportunity to attend.

Source: That's Life/YouTube

“All the feedback has been brilliant,” Madec said. “All the [bar] staff love working on that night… they say they are probably the friendliest punters in comparison to the usual crowd.”

One of the goals for That’s Life is for people with intellectual disabilities to be out in the community doing things. Not to be hidden away.

When we got into the Roísín that was a big thing because we could be like anybody else that’s setting up a night and putting their own club night in a venue.

“Stuff like this is the type of thing that helps change people’s perceptions around people with intellectual disabilities and the types of things they like to do… which is a lot of the same stuff you and me like to do.”

Madec and other facilitators and staff at That’s Life run fortnightly workshops with the DJs and VJs wanting to perform, taking them through how to use the gear.

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Madec also performs in a band called Electric Dreams that includes people with intellectual disabilities who will also be performing on the night at the Button Factory.

“We’re excited to bring Bounce to Dublin,” said lead singer Elizabeth McCormack. “To see different people enjoying the night, and to enjoy the night ourselves and have a dance.”

Laura O’Connell, a professional DJ who leads the workshops for That’s Life, said it’s been great to see how much the performers have improved from when they first started learning about DJing. 

“They all have their own individual styles,” she says. “They are so passionate about doing it. Every event night they are like, ‘that was the best night ever!’

They love it and it’s really empowering for them because they are playing the music they love. They’re getting to express themselves in that way.

Bounce will be held at the Button Factory as part of the Dublin Dance Festival on May 17. Tickets are €6 (free companion tickets for carers and PAs). 

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