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Opinion: 'Mother felt very much like a house party that happened to be in a club'

Cormac Cashman, founder of Mother and other clubs and festivals is confident we will dance again after Covid-19, but hopes no one from the events industry is left behind.

Cormac Cashman

IT’S BEEN OVER a decade since we first opened the doors at Mother. We wanted to set up a club night for LGBTQ+ people and their friends with a focus on good music.

We played electronic, synth & disco and our door policy was ‘wear what you like, just be sound and be yourself’.

Since our inception, we’ve worked with GCN, donating 50% profits from our club’s events to the Gay Community News, a registered charity and beloved community resource.

For our first year, the Mother DJs performed to a tiny packed dance floor every Saturday night from decks set up on a semi-circle sofa spun around to resemble a DJ booth.

Inexpensive home-disco style lights we named flashy and blinky flanked them, secured to two tall pod tables with sellotape. And it did the job. We’d launched Mother in what was formerly the basement breakfast room of a Dame Street hotel which had been painted, with a bar and some furniture thrown in to complete the aesthetic. 

A club from scratch

We didn’t have the cash for high-spec lighting, top-of-the-line equipment or even a DJ booth, but we had great DJs and we had a community. We had a small loyal base of regulars who grew to be friends and over time became our extended Saturday night family.

Mother Pride Block Party, National Museum Ireland, Collins Barracks Mother Pride Block Party, National Museum Ireland, Collins Barracks Source: Cormac Cashman

It very much felt like a house party that just happened to be in a club space. Three weeks after we opened, we threw our first iteration of the Pride Block Party.

Knowing absolutely nothing about the intricate and necessary legal and planning processes required to throw outdoor events, we set up some decks on the street outside the club to play tunes for the people out taking a breather, having a cigarette and celebrating pride. Thousands of people showed up and our Pride Block Party was born.

Cut to ten years later. Our club had settled into its third venue, our new Saturday night home, Lost Lane off Grafton St. We were in the midst of planning our tenth birthday party and our tenth Pride Block Party, which was returning to its new home, the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks.

Mother Family, left to right, Ghostboy, Ruth Kavanagh, Lisa Connell, Cormac Cashman, Rocky T Delgado. (1) Mother Family, left to right, Ghostboy, Ruth Kavanagh, Lisa Connell, Cormac Cashman, Rocky T Delgado. (1) Source: Cormac Cashman

We were honoured to be the first event of its kind ever held at the beautiful, historic space. Close to 10,000 would attend.

While planning these parties we were also working on our second instalment of Love Sensation, an LGBTQ+ music festival we launched on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in the summer of 2019.

Our DJs were also booked to play a myriad of stages across the Irish festival circuit and club scene around the country. We were busy and often stressed, but it was exactly what we wanted to be doing and we loved it.

And then… 2020

When the lockdown hit, naturally all of our events and plans were put on hold. Over the years, with the club and our larger events we’ve met an entire industry of hard-working, like-minded people.

They are sound and lighting engineers, security and safety event management professionals, events suppliers and of course, artists, performers and everyone else involved in events from big to small.

Love Sensation Stage 2 Love Sensation festival by Mother Source: Cormac Cashman

When lockdown hit, their livelihoods were hit first, and hardest with the industry grinding to a halt, without a recovery plan and with no hope or end in sight for when they might next be able to work again.

Without these people our dancefloors would never have been the safe, fun and diverse spaces our community needs them to be, and we will need these people more than ever to ensure that life can again be breathed back into them.

We’re hopeful that the funding announced in the budget will be distributed in a way to best help these workers and to secure the future of the industry. As of yet it seems unclear when or how this will be distributed, so we wait in hope.

The people in the background of these events are the absolute backbone of every dance floor in the country, whether that’s at live shows, festivals, clubs or any number of other types of events. Securing their future is securing ours on the dancefloor.

There is something magical about people being together on a dance floor. It unites us. Whether that dance floor is in a club or in a field under the stars at a festival.

I think for us that feeling multiplies when as queer people we’re surrounded by our community and allies. It’s a safe, fun and diverse space that allows us to unapologetically be ourselves. It’s home.

Throwing parties where this is possible is what we live for and we’ve been so lucky that our small loyal base of regulars, friends, customers and chosen family has grown over the years enabling us to throw larger events, creating new queer spaces across our city.

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Clubbing is community

To us, club culture is about shared experience with like-minded people through music, dance and a shared sense of community. That’s what we miss most during these strange, solitary times and it’s what keeps us focussed on getting things back to the way they were, when it’s safe to do so. 

For now we’re focussing on the small things we can do to keep ourselves occupied, from selling merchandise, tops and teeshirts to planning for the future.

We’re working away in the background on the Mother of all come back parties so that when it’s possible to meet again, we’ll be ready to turn on the lights, turn up the tunes and reunite on the dancefloor.

I guess that’s what is keeping us positive through this. We know that this will pass, and we take the lessons we’ve learned from our community and apply them to get us there mentally.

Cormac Cashman with his dad Seamus at Love Sensation Festival Cormac and his Dad Seamus at Love Sensation. Source: Cormac Cashman

We’re living a bizarre and unexpected shared experience at the moment and in a multitude of different ways, times are tough and strange for everyone. But it’ll get better with time and we will eventually return to normality.

We just need to make sure that no one gets left behind.

It’s been an incredible 10 years for the Mother family and we feel so honoured to still be knocking around, doing our thing. I think one of the key reasons we’ve lasted a decade is the crew involved have become such close friends over the years.

We call ourselves a family because we are one. We know we’ll come through this together, and we will dance again.

Cormac Cashman is an event promoter responsible for Mother, Sweatbox, Pride Block Party & Love Sensation music festival. Along with co-promoter Lisa Connell and the Mother DJs, Ghostboy, Rocky & Ruth Kavanagh he’s optimistic about the future of queer clubbing and events in Ireland. The Mother crew are selling We Will Dance Again merchandise from their website, with 50% profits going to support lgbtq+ charity, GCN.

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Cormac Cashman

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