Sunday 22 January 2017

Wesley disco king lays bare urban myths of teen club

ALISON O'RIORDAN

Published 28/02/2010 | 05:00

"The only unhappy endings at Wesley disco are love stories. We are confident the discos we run are in a safe and first-class manner but when one is successful in any venture in life, you always get the people who pull it down.

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"It's not first-class information about Wesley that parents are hearing at south Dublin dinner parties. Parents seem to be pointing fingers when they should be pointing them at themselves," said event organiser of Wesley disco, Donie Bolger.

For decades it has drawn Ireland's gilded youth like moths to a flame, but the famed disco still gets discreditable publicity.

An unhappy ending for one patron, four years ago at Old Wesley Rugby Club's famed teenage disco, has done nothing to help the disco's notoriety this week.

Nineteen-year-old Laura Mulvanney, of Foxrock, Dublin sued Wesley rugby club for €38,000 following an incident in one of the toilet cubicles on September 30, 2006, when she was 15 years of age, but she lost her case during the week when she failed to prove negligence and lack of care on the part of the club and is now left with a hefty legal bill.

Ms Mulvanney was injured when the top of a toilet cistern fell on her leg, which resulted in six stitches. In its defence the club alleged Laura Mulvanney and her friend had been drinking in the toilet.

When asked about the two empty alcohol bottles that were found in the cistern following the incident, she said she and her friend knew nothing about them.

Mr Bolger, who likes to think he has a feel for the way teenagers think, insists that Wesley disco employs a "zero-tolerance policy" towards teenage drinking and misbehaviour.

The club immediately contacts a teenager's parents if someone was found drinking, he said.

Mr Bolger said some 14 to 16 people work on security and monitor the behaviour of teenagers during the discos, with searches carried out to prevent alcohol from being smuggled in.

However, Mr Bolger feels sorry for the two girls and the exposure they have got in all the papers.

"They were two great girls and I was very fond of them. The night this happened, I went into the First Aid section and my first reaction was huge disappointment. We will always ring the parents. Our major consideration, however, was the cut on Laura's leg and getting her to hospital.

"Rightly or wrongly, her mother felt the need to bring the case, but the club felt we had everything in place so we had to challenge and defend the case. Obviously the judge felt we were running a good show," said Mr Bolger, who has been a member of Wesley Rugby Club for 22 years.

The teenage disco has drawn criticism in the past, but still the Donnybrook night spot means so much to so many, according to Mr Bolger, who has introduced a generation to their first disco.

"The fact we lay on a social aspect does not change the standards of behaviour. We stand very confidently and solidly on that basis" he said.

Stories of teenagers stumbling across the road following the night's entertainment, girls and boys getting it on and the overpowering whiff of booze coming off the teenagers when they're collected are unfounded, according to the club.

"We are a Protestant club with strong ethics and ethos and this would not be tolerated for one second. It's more like a school at times, the way we check people. Once they cross the gate of Wesley, we have a responsibility to them.

"Any misbehaving person is brought outside and reprimanded."

However, Mr Bolger concedes: "Some girls have a little bottle of alcohol between their boobs and boys down the back of their bum. I'm quoting a minority but you still have to be ultra vigilant -- 98 per cent that come along, come for a simple night of fun and enjoyment, and drink is not part of their motivation at all."

With urban myths about the carry-on amongst the Wezz-obsessed teenagers being rehashed amongst parents, Mr Bolger can't understand why adults sit in judgement at the behaviour of young people.

"Let them look into their souls and see how they behaved when they were young" he says.

"One has got to remember young people are striving for adulthood, their hormones are different -- on fire at times -- and I can say in all honesty we very rarely catch anyone misbehaving, and when I say that I mean someone putting their hand on someone's leg.

"We have become a bit of a legend and stories develop from that. To think we would allow the carry on that is talked of is ridiculous.

"We run a good show, so why point a finger at Wesley when morality begins in the home and in the school. You will always get the knockers."

Sunday Independent

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