The loutish behaviour of Irish students abroad this summer has once again highlighted Ireland’s boozy culture.
Music, craic and drink seem to be inextricably linked when it comes to socialising in Ireland. So what happens when the drink ingredient is removed? Enter the ‘Funky Seomra’.
According to David Mooney, founder of the ‘Funky Seomra’, the initiatives mission is to “promote and create a sustainable alternative to social space at the weekend in a nightclub context, where people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds can experience and enjoy an alcohol and drug-free atmosphere.”
Sounds like a good idea—but is it any fun? Well, according to David, it’s becoming very popular. It’s been running in the RDS Concert Hall once a month for the past 3 years with attendances of up to 400 -- 500 people from very diverse backgrounds.
A Funky Seomra now exists in Galway, and there are plans to bring it to Cork this year, and possibly London in the not-so-distant future.
David said that the idea came from his own experience of Ireland and growing up here. “I stopped drinking when I was 23, there were very little options particularly at the weekend to socialise where it didn’t involve a lot of alcohol … I got very tired of that.”
“I didn’t think it was very healthy or a good reflection on how we socialise in Ireland … It [Funky Seomra] was really designed as an alternative to the scene involved around binge drinking,” said David.
David has a background in movement and dance. He combined his passion for dance, which he teaches, with a venue where you didn’t have to drink to get up and boogie. “The nightclub is really geared around dancing, the music very much towards encouraging people to dance,” said David, who added that he’s been getting great feedback from people who attend.
Whether it be those who come along to try something different, to people in recovery from drink issues who may have thought they could never enjoy themselves in a night club again without alcohol—Funky Seomra has wide appeal. “There is a lot of feedback, you can see it on Facebook where people comment on how it’s such a relief to go to a place where it’s not alcohol-fuelled, where women can enjoy themselves without being harassed … the main thing people talk about is the sense of openness and people being relaxed and being themselves and friendly.”
David says he came up with the name ‘Funky Seomra’ with a bit of help from his sister. He wanted something specifically Irish because Ireland has such an odd connection with alcohol. “As a nation we have always had a particular relationship with alcohol, and at the same time we like going out in big groups, we are kind of tribal like that. We like to have big networks of friends,” explained David. He wanted the name to be Irish, but not corny. “It was important for me that it wasn’t in a church hall, that it didn’t have a Father Ted-ish feel to it, because of the no alcohol.”
That’s why David says it was so important to make it Funky. “Make it somewhere where you want to go out. We spend a lot of time decorating the venue,” said David.
The Funky Seomra takes place in the RDS. There is an Organic Cafe by the Happy Pear restaurant, special guest DJ’s, top of the range Funktion 1 Sound System, giant games area, cinema screen visuals, story-telling room, live musicians, chill-out area with massage and shiatsu, and interactive art installations.
David says that in just under 4 years of the Funky Seomra, there has never been one incident and the toilets stay immaculately clean all night!
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