Moments from the dancefloor in Blackpitts

With one week out until Dublin’s nightlife is expected to return with a bang, reporter Megan Bell speaks to Karl Magee about his newest exhibition that reminds us of the times we shared pre-pandemic.

Tucked away off a side street in Blackpitts is where we find Hen’s Teeth. The small café has become a haven for artists and photographers to exhibit their work and sell it to those who visit.

The Liberty spoke to Karl Magee, a Dublin photographer, about his newest exhibition ‘Until Then’ which opened earlier this month.  

Electric Picnic. Photo by Karl Magee. 

“My first camera was an iPod Touch. My favourite thing about it was the freedom it gave me to capture moments anywhere and everywhere”. ‘Until Then’ shows us a pre-pandemic world of Irish nightlife.

It displays “moments from the dancefloor” from some iconic Dublin clubs. “In the beginning, It was quite personal. From attending different events regularly, I felt a certain need to have something to take home as a memory.”  

Over time Magee began to seek out the more abstract moments to capture.

 He explained that it’s not about having images from a specific venue or event, but instead, it is more about the feeling that the images conjure for the observer. 

“I love to look back on memories and collect moments from different places or people. It has never really felt like a pursuit or a decision more like something constant and always there that traces all the way back to my first camera.”  

Photographer Karl Magee. Image taken by Evan Magee.  

Many photographers before that have taken to capturing nightlife, with Wolfgang Tillman’s being one of the most well-known. “There is always so much evolving with his different styles and I think that curiosity is so intriguing to me”. 

Tillman’s documentation of counterculture and club-culture are entrenched with the emotions of young people on the dancefloor. 

“He is quite imaginative and can really make something out of nothing, whether that is trousers on a bannister, his famous still life images or Jochen on the beach. I love the way his whole 30 years of work is accessible to see across his published books.”  

With a mix of the pandemic and rising rent costs in the city, Dublin has lost some iconic dancefloors over the past few years, with The Bernard Shaw being one of them. “The curation of the exhibition focused on the balance of beautiful club colours and the big moments that have graced Dublin’s clubs in recent years”.  

The closing weekend was one of Dublin’s most memorable events from the past few years, which can be seen in Magee’s exhibition. “I wanted more colourful abstract moments to be a larger size while the more intimate images of crowds and DJs to be smaller.” 

Disco. Image by Karl Magee. 

With only a couple more sleeps until we can dance again, the buzz is back around the city. “It feels so special to see events popping up in venues like Wigwam and Tengu. I have such great memories from these clubs. The intimacy of these spots always evoked a positive open atmosphere, where you could say hi and chat to anyone.”

Magee’s favourite dancefloor in Dublin is Wigwam. The infamous Bodytonic background can be seen multiple times within his work. “It is a really special venue for me as I also ran nights there with a group of friends. These were our first times getting to book DJs and introduce them to Dublin city.” 

‘Until Then’ is currently open in Hen’s Teeth in Dublin 8 for the remainder of the month.