Saturday 17 February 2018

'We were told to be careful of the boys there – so I wore shorts underneath my skirt' - people remember the legendary 'Wezz' teen disco

Girls make their way up to the entrance of the Old Wesley Friday night disco in Donnybrook. Photo; Gerry Mooney
Girls make their way up to the entrance of the Old Wesley Friday night disco in Donnybrook. Photo; Gerry Mooney
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

It says something instructive, and kind of depressing, about Irish society that the weekly disco at Old Wesley Rugby Club was so well-known. Dublin occupies such an oversized place in the national consciousness; what happens there is relevant – so we’re told, anyway – to everyone.

We never used to hear about the weekly disco at Ballybanana Road Bowling Club, for instance. Or for that matter, the one at “de yoot club” in some inner-sidee Dubbalin hell-hole.

But this was Donnybrook, don’t you know, rugby country, home of this country’s great and good, which is why “Wezz” seemed as familiar to many of us non-D4 people as our own local events. I mean, we even knew that stupid nickname “Wezz”.

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One of The Wezz's promotional posters, advertising an alcohol-free event.

Anyway, enough socio-political ranting. The disco for 13- and 14-year-olds closed in 2015, after some 40 years, but has left an enjoyable legacy in Love Letter to Wezz, a documentary just aired on Radio 1.

Reminiscences of slow sets, mini-skirts, enduring friendships, hair-gel, Ugg boots and Maniac 2000 – Love Letter to Wezz was funny, entertaining and rather sweet…even if those horrendous cod-American accents (including the narrator’s) will make you want to seal your ears with molten lead.

Here are ten choice quotes:

    "We were told to be careful of the boys there – so I wore shorts underneath my skirt"

    "I would literally (put my hair) straight out on the ironing board, and straighten it out to within an inch of its life"

    "There’s some fairly horrible photos of luminous blue eye-shadow and eye-liner…it made you look like you had conjunctivitis"

    "At the time I thought I looked great…in retrospect I definitely looked like a twat"

    "We’d have six hours of talking about going, then two hours of actually getting ready to go"

    "I remember drinking two swigs of beer the first time and I was like, wow – I am crazy, like this is mental"

    "Kevin’s older sister knew it’d be lame to turn up with your parents, so she sorted us out with a lift down. Arrive, open the car-door, music blaring. We looked like legends. The legends that we are!"

    "We had to lie about what school we went to – you’d be going, trying to remember the name of the PE teacher at the school you were supposed to be going to. They (the bouncers) always let in people from fancy schools"

    "It was a rugby club function room, barely tarted up for the disco"

    "Leave room for Jesus" (an admonition not to dance too closely together).

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