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Monday 20 August 2018

Cullen turns Coppers into gold

LAST Sunday Dublin skipper Bryan Cullen promised Dubliners a night out to remember, and for some Dubliners, the celebrations are probably still going strong. But it took just five words from the freshly triumphant Dublin captain, "See yiz all in Coppers", to ensure that the Harcourt Street club has been mobbed all week.

A nightclub getting a shout out isn't the normal run of things at an All-Ireland final, but then Copperface Jacks could barely be described as a normal club.

Even Lonely Planet has got wind of its reputation as a Mecca for off-duty nurses and gardai: "Don't let the presence of the law put you off though," reads its Dublin guide. "From what we've heard, they're the biggest miscreants of the lot, especially if there are nurses about!"

Last month saw the opening of Copperface Jacks' VIP area and, sure enough, the room was put to plentiful use this week. Following closely behind Bryan Cullen into the guestlist-only area were Dubs heroes Kevin Nolan, Paul Flynn, Eoghan O'Gara, Diarmuid Connolly, Rory O'Carroll and Michael Darragh Macauley.

Even before Cullen's endorsement, Coppers has defied the slings and arrows of the recession; the Jackson Court Hotel, home to the nightclub, saw a pre-tax profit of €6.8m last year. What's more, it is thought that much of this revenue was generated by the Copperface Jacks bar.

These days, Dublin nightclubs appear to be embroiled in a recession-fuelled turf war, desperate to get big names through the door to stand out from the pack. Yet it hasn't always been this way. Compared to the likes of London and New York, Dublin -- a town chock full of pubs -- was a relative latecomer to the nightclub scene. From earnest beginnings (think Sachs nightclub in Ballsbridge, the Coconut Grove in Stillorgan, Sloopy's on D'Olier Street and Tiffany's on Henry Street), Dublin's nightclub scene has blossomed and we Dubs have proved that we can party like it's 1999, whatever the year. Behold our potted history to Dublin's ever-changing nightlife . . .

>Bad Bob's Temple Bar, early '80s style

Sandwiched between the Olympia Theatre and the Clarence Hotel, this Temple Bar emporium took its name from the Covent Garden den of the same name. It was the place to see and be seen in the early 1980s, and as such it had relatively little competition in the Temple Bar area.

As the area developed around it, Bad Bob's easily held its own, staying a perennial favourite. In 1997, Gerry O'Reilly, who owned Lillie's Bordello and the Gaiety Theatre, sold the club for a cool £3m to the O'Dwyer group, who owned Break For The Border and Cafe En Seine. Amid it all, the club thrived. Bad Bob's underwent a significant revamp in 2000 and a name change some years later (The Purty Kitchen) making it the bar it is today. In 2008, the Sycamore Club, a private members area, opened in The Purty Kitchen.

Who went there: Bob Geldof, Marty Whelan

>Tamango's the late '80s hotspot

Located in the outpost of Portmarnock, Tamango's -- where the gang goes -- had its heyday in the late '80s and early '90s and was a true jewel in the northside's crown. It was Dublin's suburban Studio 54 -- the poppy yin to The Grove in Clontarf's indie yang. It continues to kick out pop from the '70s, '80s and '90s to this day. Tamango's is still going, although it may be feeling the pinch since the opening of the Wright Venue in nearby Swords in 2009.

Who went there: Gerry Ryan, members of Boyzone, Bertie Ahern, Johnny Logan

>Leeson Street the street to be seen on in the 80s-90s

The area had a reputation, now long gone, as Dublin's red-light district at the time, along with Baggot Street. The area, replete with clubs and wine bars, became synonymous with glamour and decadence; a real palate cleanser to the spit and sawdust Irish pub.

Decades ago, Leeson Street was the preserve for late-night clubbers looking for a drink, before the relaxation of Dublin's licensing laws. The fact that many of the clubs were below ground level gave them an underground feel. Many of the establishments at the time struck a gossamer-fine line between sleazy and sophisticated. Blondes, Wiseguys, Leggs, Suzy Street and Buck Whaley's were the biggest names on the block in the '80s, while Cat's and Rio's followed.

Who went there: Various RTE stars, Terri Keane, Charles Haughey, socialite Noelle Campbell-Sharpe

>Lillie's Bordello home to Paddywood in the late '90s

Now in its 21st year, Lillie's Bordello sprang from humble origins to become one of Dublin's top celebrity hangouts.

Taking its name from Lillie Langtry, an infamous socialite pal of Oscar Wilde's, Lillie's became synonymous with exclusivity.

Initially, Robbie Fox was at the club's helm but left a year later to set up The Pink Elephant. Under Valerie Roe's watch, the club began to attract not only celebrities, but also wealthy businessmen and politicians. Around the time of Lillie's opening, Ireland was experiencing the birth of its own fledgling celebrity culture, thanks in no small part to the success of Riverdance, U2 and The Commitments.

Add to this the sudden popularity of Ireland for Hollywood's A-list -- hence the 'Paddywood' tag -- and it was a surprising combustion that few saw coming.

Even beyond the proverbial velvet rope, there were differing levels of exclusivity in Lillie's. The club's alcove was favoured by those seeking privacy, while the Library, complete with its own dedicated doorman and 'key' system, was famed as the club's most elite area.

Who went there: The Corrs, Eddie Irvine, U2, Louis Walsh, Ronnie Wood

>The Kitchen Big in the mid-90s

With U2's world domination plans running at full pelt, the group opened their first nightclub as part of their Clarence Hotel complex on Valentine's Night in 1994, and it instantly became catnip for incoming celebrities, supermodels and homegrown hedonists.

Tales of infamy are legion; from punters being served by Bono behind the bar, to Naomi Campbell throwing a few shapes on the dance-floor flanked by two burly bodyguards.

Celebrities aside, the venue soon became the epicentre of Dublin's heady dance scene, dishing out techno, funk, and house clubs every night of the week. In 2002, The Kitchen called it a night, until March 2011 when the doors swung open again.

Who went there: Bono, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Gavin Friday

>The Pink Elephant Popular in the '80s-'90s

Robbie Fox opened the Pink Elephant in 1980 and soon became the face of Dublin's nightlife as he presided over the hottest spots in town. Back in the 1980s, if you weren't hot-footing it to Leeson Street, chances are you were trying to get past the velvet rope at Robbie's South Frederick Street establishment to mingle with '80s bands, models and movie stars.

After a spell at Lillie's, Robbie presided over The Pink Elephant, which later became eminent celeb hangout Renards. Renards reigned supreme in the Noughties, becoming synonymous with Celtic Tiger excess.

Last November, the club was re-opened under the new guise Pink, with Leigh Arnold and Rosanna Davison among the first celebs through the door.

Who went there: Ronan Keating, Colin Farrell, Lorraine Keane, The Corrs

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