FIVE Cork-grown creatives have joined forces to help inject some energy back into the city’s nightlife, organising events to showcase alternative art and music in Cork.
‘DOSE’ is a new community of artists, promoters and venue managers, that hopes to offer something different for Cork’s music and club scene, with a particular focus on the electronic.
Founded by five friends from Cork, (Nevan O’Keeffe, Roy Stam, Michelle Delea, Ollie McMorrow, and Chris Power) DOSE aims to curate events that provide a platform and community for local artists and talent to grow, and help bring back the “heyday” of alternative music in Cork.
“Maybe it’s a case of looking back through rose-tinted glasses, but it feels like there was a hayday or glory days of electronic music in Cork. More recently, there aren’t many options – there’s not a whole lot going on,” said co-founder Nevan O’Keeffe.
Research by Give Us the Night, a national group of volunteers campaigning for positive changes to nightlife in Ireland, has found that the number of clubs in Ireland has declined by 84% since 2000.
In Cork, venues like The Pav, Camden Palace, The Savoy, Redz, and the Hanover Street venue formerly home to Cubins, have all closed their doors.
Nevan said that particularly for fans of alternative music, the holes left by the loss of the iconic Sir Henry’s, The Pav, and the more recently closed Cork Community Print Shop, have not been filled.
“It’s not news to anyone that there’s a lack of venues, which is driven by high cost of living and high cost of rent, a lack of investment in cultural activities and events from various government organisations, combined with fairly draconian and primitive licensing laws for venues,” he said.
The lack of space for cultural events in the city, compounded by pandemic shutdowns, has led to a fracturing of the artistic community in Cork, another issue that fellow DOSE founder Michelle Delea says they want to tackle.
“A lot of spaces had already closed down in the years running up to Covid, but the remaining community were at least still going out to the pub dancing or communicating with each other.
I think that was severed by the pandemic. For the younger generations coming up, there’s been a loss of cross-generational influence, mentorship or inspiration,” she said.
“I think we’re ready to rise from the ashes now, and it’s timely to try and create those links and build a bit of a community. I think everyone’s ready for it at this stage, which you can see from the good response we’ve had so far,” she added.
DOSE had its first successful launch event last month in the Spailpin Fánach, featuring hard drum, techno, bass, tribal and jungle from artists Doubt, Rob Rua and Jonezy.
Co-founder Roy Stam said the positive response from everyone who came out has given them a boost to keep organising events, and they are putting out the call for anyone who thinks they might have a suitable venue.
“Our launch went great. With that kind of first event you’re always nervous and not sure how it’s going to go, but everyone had a great time.
“It was a good first step that has definitely put the wind behind us and given us more momentum,” he said.
DOSE are trying to offer something new to people in terms of music and art, but also making sure that every event is a safe space for everyone who attends.
“We’re focused on inclusivity and safety for people. We want to create a sense of respect for other people, by having adherence to Safe Space policies,” said Nevan.
The group are trying to vary events and move away from the typical venue or night out of a licensed premises.
“I would be pretty satisfied if we could just offer people more options in terms of events and how they choose to blow off some steam. What’s currently available is often drinking fuelled… and we just want to provide something in the opposite direction,” added Michelle.
DOSE’s next event on August 27 is an all-ages, alcohol and drug-free event at TEST SITE on Kyrl’s Quay. From 6pm people can enjoy meditative drones and exploratory musical creation, from artists Sean Being, Frog of Earth and Howlbux.
Tickets can be purchased from plugd records on Cornmarket Street, run by Jimmy Horgan who Nevan said is the “patron saint of alternative music in Cork”.
“He’s kept a fire burning at all times and he’s been a great support to us,” said Nevan, adding that their new collective is simply the latest in a long line of people who have done trojan work to keep Cork’s alternative music scene alive.