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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 27 July 2021

Goodbye to the Dublin that 'was about bars with neon lights and s**t music'

A festival called Another Love Story takes place in a stately manor in Co Meath – and its founder talked to us about what makes it different.

ALS3 (1)

THE WEEKEND OF 22 August, around 500 people will head to the stately home Killyon Manor in Co Meath.

There they’ll find a rather unusual festival, Another Love Story – run by Homebeat – which promises music, food, yoga, an open air cinema, workshops and even guerilla aerialists.

The setting and the activities on offer are very different – people attending can wander around the house and are pretty much given free reign, as long as they are polite – but it’s testament to how differently the Homebeat gang do things.

Connection and parties

“It’s basically like a giant house party,” said Emmet Condon, who started Homebeat. He told TheJournal.ie that its roots lie in the house concerts he and friends would throw in a gaff in Clonskeagh the early 2000s.

A musician himself, he and fellow musical mates would bring some bands in to play.

It snowballed, connections were made, and a little community was formed. “It was a really nice way of connecting people with bands, and bands with an audience on a much smaller level,” recalled Condon.

ALS2 (1) Source: Ruth Medjber

Bands normally playing support slots in Whelan’s or the Grand Social might be in an early slot with people just arriving – it’s hard to get a message across in that situation. The intimate setting of someone’s apartment or front room broke that down.

Working with the Mabos community space in Dublin also helped Condon to further his aspirations for putting on unusual events powered by passion. Out of that came Homebeat, and festivals like Fading Light and Another Love Story.

What they have in common is taking unique locations and bringing music to people in an intimate way.

“It’s a make-believe place that is created,” he said of Another Love Story.

It’s not just about going somewhere and getting wrecked and saying ‘that was a great time’. It’s coming together with friends and celebrating that life isn’t great all the time, but trying to create something real.

ALS (1) Source: Ruth Medjber

Homebeat started off when Dublin “was about bars with neon lights and shit music and very little imagination to what was being put out” – in other words, during the Celtic Tiger.

“We felt we were certainly not the cool kids going to all the underground stuff,” said Condon. “The impetus to start something like Homebeat came from being a little dissatisfied from what was going on.”

But with the recession came a shift.

“It was really about keeping the heart, that sense of heart or warmness.” They were lucky to have “a really lovely crowd” that stuck around from the very beginning, and still attend Homebeat events.

“It’s not just about the music, it’s about the vibe”.

In 2010, Homebeat went from being a hobby to a full-time occupation, but Condon doesn’t want it to lose its DIY ethos.

Another Love Story (1) Source: Abi Dennison

There’s a certain focus in trying to do things in different spaces. That’s the thing that drives us forward and interests me.

October festival Fading Light takes place in Caherdaniel, where Condon would holiday as a child. “We bring some bands and bring them into tiny little pubs.”

The collaborative work Homebeat does with Happenings is also important to its work, which has a similar attachment to location and vibe.

A creative city

Though he recognises that there are lots of things going on in Dublin creatively, Condon says the flipside for everyone getting a slice of the pie is that those slices are “getting smaller and smaller”.

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The recession undoubtedly led to a boom in creativity in Dublin, due to lower commercial rents and people taking chances, but now that things are improving, Condon doesn’t want to see that creative fire snuffed out.

He points to the possible closure of Mart, an arts and community centre in Rathmines which is under threat of being turned into a laneway, as evidence of old ways encroaching on a vibrant Dublin.

Homebeat My Tribe Your Tribe (1) Source: Fergal Rice

“If that was a pub, if that was Roddy Boland’s or a Centra or any other business, that wouldn’t even be considered but because it’s an artists’ thing and the people who work at it are seen as replaceable or easily discarded because it’s not a real job [this is happening],” he said.

“Art needs space to flourish,” said Condon, who credits Mabos with helping to politicise him on these issues.

You need somewhere to practice music; you need somewhere to paint. If Mart is knocked for a laneway, what does that say for our commitment [to the arts]?

“We have a unique opportunity here now because I think we have an established artistic community and not just in a practical sense, I mean like if you look at a place like Fumbally Café, who are friends of ours, or Queens of Neon. Even having worked with Body & Soul this year and seeing the industry that a successful festival and a successful business like the Fumbally creates.”

But he sees a lack of support for these creative heads. “The industries they work in are not seen as real industries in the way if you work in Google or you work in Facebook.”

“There has to be a political will,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a grand sense – Enda Kenny isn’t going to phone up and tell us we can have Mabos back. We’re talking about Dublin as a city. I’m an adopted Dublin person. I’m from Limerick.

We have an opportunity for creating a city that was knocked down almost. We rebuilt it. We are becoming more aware, especially after the referendum, that we can set the rules – we don’t have to wait, we don’t have to be dictated as to what kind of place we want to live in.

“There is the chance now; that momentum to go and not only create art where we will value it and put in structures to support it.”

He is hopeful that people will recognise the potential in the capital. “I genuinely believe we are living through a golden age of music and culture. Dublin is the equal if not better than Berlin or New York.”

Another Love Story takes place the weekend of 21 – 23 August. More info and tickets at the official website.

Read: What’s it like letting people run a massive festival in your back garden?>

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