Wednesday 29 March 2017

Antonia Leslie: The joy of Joys, the best little 'speakeasy' in town

Antonia Leslie recalls 18 years of working in Dublin's most famous night club, known for its mix of wild, monied patrons, which has now closed after four decades in business

I’M IN THE DÁIL, YE KNOW: Antonia at Joys on Baggot St, where her duties included escorting a Government minister off the dance floor where he had been standing, downing a bottle of wine by the neck. Photo: Gerry Mooney
I’M IN THE DÁIL, YE KNOW: Antonia at Joys on Baggot St, where her duties included escorting a Government minister off the dance floor where he had been standing, downing a bottle of wine by the neck. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Joys Nite Club (yes, spelt with a "t" not a "ght", reminiscent of the era in which it was created) has finally closed for good. For those of you who don't know what Joys was, it was the funniest, sometimes sleaziest, sometimes chicest, most glorious and longest-running late, late, late, night club in Ireland. Every great city has a Joys. That infamous club were everybody goes after hours. It's the kind of place where in movies it's down a lane or in a basement with a big black iron door; you knock and a small hatch opens and you need a pass word like "Erny sent us!"or something to that effect, and then the tiny hatch closes and the big door opens. You pass the big, muscly bouncer, with a Samurai moustache, and you're in!

Everyone who's anyone frequented Joys at some point. In the old days of the Celtic Tiger, Joys was open six nights a week. It stayed open till the wee hours and I remember Mondays some- times being the busiest nights. Back when everyone drank like crazy and sometimes went to work not fully sober the next day, some even went straight from Joys to their desks.

Joys was situated in Lower Baggot Street so it was a great haunt for lawyers and politicians and developers as well as the owners and staff of other restaurants and the many pubs in the area. It was sometimes called "The Galway Tent In Town" as well as "God's Waiting Room" and "Jurassic Park". These latter two soubriquets arose from the fact that is was a haven for the older crowd who wanted to go out but would feel a bit silly and out of place in Lillie's or the Pod.

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