Imagine this: It’s a Monday night and people are at home watching TV on their cushy couches, recovering from the first day back to work after the weekend. They plan for bedtime while something is brewing in the centre of Dublin. Friends have gathered together, coming from towns and villages across Ireland, decked out in the most expressive and outlandish clothes. At 9pm, music beings to boom from the basement of one of the last standing rock bars in Dublin. Within minutes, people gather on the dance floor, and soon after, party goers are graced with passionate drag performances on the stage. This is Dance to the Underground, Dublin’s only queer punk rock and roll nightclub.
All punks, goths, rockers, drags and misfits gather monthly to experience some sweet alternative tunes at an LGBTQ+ friendly space and this month they celebrate their one-year anniversary! From their humble beginnings in November 2021, they now host a large range of various artists on their stage, granting them the freedom of expressing themselves to a loud crowd. Word has spread about this nightclub over the past year, and each month there is an influx of locals and newbies to the scene.
Rod.Fibula and Tibia are the masterminds behind this alternative night. They have previously discussed where their idea for a queer rock and roll club came from, saying: “I think everything starts from boredom…. After lockdown, we were sick of being stuck on this couch so I had an idea to send a message to Fibbers.”
They discuss in the interview how their original idea was to just have a dance night, but they wanted to have the club stand out from the rest and that’s when Rod came up with the idea of having performances alongside the DJ sets. And with that, the structure of Dance to the Underground was born.
The two punk and goth DJs have hosted a multitude of various talents on the stage in the basement of Fibbers, including bands like Mary Bleeds and hardcore drag queens, such as Pixie Woo, Dylan Jordan and even King Phisher from Belfast. Rod has previously stated that “we don’t have a place where the alternative drag queens can do their thing, I didn’t even know before that we have alternative drag queens here!”
This self-titled “punk rock drag show” has let all kinds of drag artists perform to hit rock classics to get screaming cheers from the audience. They have also given drag artists that are new to the scene a chance to perform their debut performances through their open call, such as Dan The Man rocking out to Rob Zombie’s ‘Dragula’. Dan reflects on their first performance stating, “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt, terrifying and exciting, every moment was incredible! The best part was seeing the queer alternative people, who have become my friends, cheer from the crowd. I’m eternally grateful to Tibia and Rod.Fibula for allowing a baby drag king to perform for the queers and weirdos at Dance to the Underground.”
Dance to the Underground also supports many important causes, especially when it relates back to the punk and rock community. They have actively supported the Rock For Culture protests where people gather monthly to have their voices heard. Rock For Culture aims to save the beer garden connecting Fibber Magees with two other pubs from being demolished by the Holiday Inn’s plan of expanding and building more rooms. One of the rock club’s drag hosts, Coco Ri, has performed at these protests representing the culture and talents seen at Dance to the Underground and also letting Dublin know what the Holiday Inn is attempting to destroy.
“People said to me oh my god that’s it, we needed this, we wanted this and we have to keep this,” Rod said, adding: “We are trying to create not a party but a community”. He states that with Dance to the Underground, all queer misfits, freaks and weirdos have a place to go now. They emphasise the importance of their club’s existence by explaining that “we didn’t want to have to choose between going to a gay club and listen to pop music or go to a straight club to listen to alternative music. We wanted to have this together.”
After a whole year of creating these monthly unforgettable rock and roll nights, they aren’t ready to stop anytime soon. When asked what they are planning for the future, Rod.Fibula responded, “We really needed a party like Dance to the Underground in Dublin and my mission for the future is to keep it going as a safe space for us queer punks, goths, rockers, freaks and misfits and also keep queering the alternative punk and goth scene in Ireland. We started very small and we’re growing within our community. It’s just fabulous to watch it and to be part of it. There’s so much more to come with some big projects for next year! What about a big Dance to the Underground Festival? Keep your queer eyes peeled! We’re queer misfits and we’re here!”
If you consider yourself a queer rock and roller, a gay punk kid, a Trans goth babe or anything in between, gat yourself down to the next Dance to the Underground! Their one-year anniversary show is happening on Friday, November 4 and kicks off at 9pm at Fibber Magees with a €5 entry fee. The resident DJs and organisers Rod.Fibula and Tibia will be spinning alternative anthems and obscure tunes from punk, riot grrrl, post-punk, goth, EBM, darkwave and lots of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s bangers. The artists that will be gracing the stage are drag queens Coco Ri, and Pixie Woo, along with drag queen Joanne Joanne and drag king Alexander coming in through their open call.
Alongside the drag performers there will be a surprise rock and roll kink performance by one of the resident DJs, Rod.Fibula, to rile up the crowd on the night. A DIY photo exhibition will also be featured on the night called Flashes from the Underground by Jean Philippe Hofmann and the night’s official photographer, Al Fartukh, will be selling a DIY zine full of photos captured of the previous nights all on 35mm film.
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