Irish Queer Archive has loaned Pilly Willy their collection of queer club flyers for an exhibition in Dublin and they’re having a closing party on Sunday you won’t want to miss
Pilly Willy – Rave Ephemera From The Queer Underground which is put on by collective Pussys displays the Irish Queer Archive’s collection of queer club flyers from 1970-2000.
The exhibition is on from 10 to 17 October 2016 at 12 Tara Street, Dublin 2 between 11am – 6pm (look out for the neon posters in a derelict former office). There will also be late night openings at the weekend and a closing party on Sunday 16 October.
Besides the club flyers from the Irish Queer Archive (IQA), the exhibition will showcase new works which look at fetish wear, internet porn culture and other issues evoked by the flyers collected by the IQA.
Unlike now, gay clubbing in the ’80s and ’90s was underground, with homosexuality criminalised until 1993. This meant that getting the message out about clubs like H.A.M. or GAG in Dublin which catered to the queer community was tough.
Tonie Walsh, LGBT activist and founder of the IQA explained that they used to distribute flyers in “hip cafés, clothes shops, music stores and the like.”
These flyers featured explicit graphics and evocative language, allowing queer people to understand the type of club night they’d be getting when turning up.
Walsh was also one of the founders of H.A.M. alongside Niall Sweeny and Rory O’Neill. In Free! Sweeny described the first night of H.A.M. in 1997 as “hot, packed” and with “kick ass music”.
“Anybody who was there on the first night,” Sweeney said, “will remember that it was hot, packed, and an insane mix of staff in slaughterhouse aprons and white boots with blood smeared all over them, kick ass music and a dance floor.”
“I was one of the producers of H.A.M. as well as a resident DJ,” said Walsh.
“So many lasting friendships and cultural associations were formed and shaped during its glorious history.”
Walsh told Dazed how he had amassed his collection of flyers: “Firstly, the queer stuff is but a section of my complete collection.”
“Throughout the 1990s I worked as a full-time DJ and club promoter, which gave me the freedom to devote time and energy to projects like IQA.
“Along the way, I collected flyers and material culture associated with my own projects but also stuff that simply piqued my curiosity.”
Walsh estimates that in his collection there are several thousand flyers and several hundred posters from Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Galway, Waterford, London and Amsterdam.
Pilly Willy: Rave Ephemera from the Queer Underground runs October 10 – 17 2016 at 12 Tara Street, Dublin 2 between 11 and 6pm (with late openings at the weekend).
(Images: via Irish Queer Archive)
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