Wednesday 21 August 2019

The seven stages of a night out at Copper Face Jacks...

The legendary club is up for sale, but why is it so popular, and will it survive into the future?

The queue at Coppers
The queue at Coppers
The Copper Face Jacks gold card, as shown by general manager, Darren Power
NO REPRO FEE.12/6/2018.The cast of Copper Face Jacks the Musical officially launch the the all-singing, all-dancing puppet based musical extravaganza before it opens at the Olympia Theatre this summer from 5 July. Copper Face Jacks the Musical is written by Paul Howard and stars Johnny Ward (Fair City, Love/Hate) as Gino Wildes, Roseanna Purcell (Red Rock) as Noeleen Ní Gearailt and Michele McGrath as Gretchen Ackerman. From the land of Yeats, Beckett, Joyce and Shaw comes a story of our times, a story of our people’s, an interracial love story that sees an innocent girl from the Kingdom Of Kerry meet and fall for a not SO innocent Dublin lad.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Sheena McGinley

Last week, news broke that Cathal and Paula Jackson were selling The Jackson Court Hotel on Dublin’s Harcourt Street after 23 years in business.

The hotel plays host to a modest amount of bedrooms, 36 in total. However, it’s also home to the behemoth that is Copper Face Jacks — arguably the last of Dublin City’s super clubs.

Boasting seven bars and three beer gardens over seemingly innumerable floors (only three, feels double), it’s (quite literally) the only place to go if you want to stay out after 3am. Hence there’s an immense sense of fear surrounding the potential sale, lest this Mecca for Midwives, this Temple for Teachers, this Grove for Guards changes beyond all recognition! Perish the thought...

Why so popular?

Widely considered Flannery’s on steroids, or Dicey’s Big Brother, anyone who’s ever donned a GAA shirt in their lifetime will have been to or heard of Coppers. Its notoriety is worldwide, such is the proliferation of terrified-looking tourists encountering the infamous Shifting Wall — which — legend has it — does actually move, depending on the level of inebriation.

Face Jacks Musical .jpg
NO REPRO FEE.12/6/2018.The cast of Copper Face Jacks the Musical officially launch the the all-singing, all-dancing puppet based musical extravaganza before it opens at the Olympia Theatre this summer from 5 July. Copper Face Jacks the Musical is written by Paul Howard and stars Johnny Ward (Fair City, Love/Hate) as Gino Wildes, Roseanna Purcell (Red Rock) as Noeleen Ní Gearailt and Michele McGrath as Gretchen Ackerman. From the land of Yeats, Beckett, Joyce and Shaw comes a story of our times, a story of our people’s, an interracial love story that sees an innocent girl from the Kingdom Of Kerry meet and fall for a not SO innocent Dublin lad.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Whether you’ve been willing your shift to end so you can head to Coppers for another one, or had minus intention of rocking up to the queue when your “quiet pint” commenced some hours ago, you know what you’re getting: smashing glass, frenzied floor mopping, and Today FM’s playlist on repeat, peppered with Journey and the homing beacon that is the National Anthem.

Consider Coppers an autonomous region within the country, a safe space hordes gravitate to for one reason — the craic. Gone are Dublin/rural divides, the north city/south city split is suspended, this is a free for all. Once the epicentre for those outside the Pale, that all changed in 2011 when Dubliners received the infamous open invite by Bryan Cullen. Now, an array of GAA jumpers mix merrily with the creased business suits of those souls who stated they were “only going for the one after work”.

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The Copper Face Jacks gold card, as shown by general manager, Darren Power

In short, it is what it is. More importantly, it knows what it is and makes no apologies. As for those addicted to sporting wrist bands and brandishing premium membership cards? They’re facilitated with both the VIP bar and a Premium Bar on the first floor, while the rest of us schweat off a storm and dodge discarded footwear.

If, at this point, you’re still questioning the level of adulation for the place; you do know that Paul Howard and Darren Smith wrote and produced a West Side Story-inspired musical in its honour, starring Johnny Ward? ‘Nuff said.

The seven stages of being at Coppers...

For those who have yet to frequent, here is a loose guide to a night in da club.

Stage One:

Most nights commence with all assembled making a pact not to darken the doors of Coppers. Then last orders arrive in whatever boozer you’re in and someone mumbles “Well, we could always head on to Harcourt Street...” Suddenly the goo and the urge to boogie becomes too much and you’re waiting in line, thanking your past self for keeping the ‘Casual Friday’ look snappy.

Stage Two:

You know you’re in Coppers when the DJ deploys such shoutouts as “THE MAYNOOTH PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS” and “ALL THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSES”. 

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A bar in Coppers. Photo: Arthur Carron

Stage Three:

Mark McCabe’s ‘Maniac 2000’ gets an airing and you don’t mind one bit. Likewise with ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Country Roads’. You’re definitely going to dance to the next one — once your feet dry from being mopped for the fourth time.

Convince yourself you’ve seen Sinead Kennedy off Winning Streak and start stalking some randomer as a result. You then get lost, before marching past several mirrors exclaiming “Lookit the state of that yoke!”

Stage Five:

You’ve been missing in a mirror maze for half the night trying to find the nearest jacks (that’s why you got lost in the first place... isn’t it?) and currently unsure what floor you’re meant to be on, but there’s no way you’re tackling those stairs.

Stage Six:

Have a fierce hunger, so you also try hunting down the fabled in-house Supermacs outlet en route to the elusive toilet.

Stage Seven:

Can’t locate your coat, so presume it’s in the cloakroom. Wait all eternity in the cloakroom queue before spilling out into the street at 4am, telling yourself Eddie Rockets will still be open for cheese and bacon fries.

You know your experience is complete when you swear you’ll “never go to Coppers again”.

It's a celebrity haven...

It’s not just filled with sporting enthusiasts or public sector employees; Coppers has also played host to political leaders, Irish presenting royalty, models, and American musical superstars. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar celebrated his new post by having a private party in the establishment back in 2017.

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/independentDublin/resource/binary/987394
18.8.11. Brian and Philippa Ormond Pictured at the Copper Face Jacks Summer Party and 15th Birthday. Photo by Richie Stokes

Presenters Katherine Thomas and Ryan Tubridy have also enjoyed a few “schkewps” in its confines; Pippa O’Connor has paused for many a selfie with fans; while legend has it that Marty Morrissey was seen tripping the light fantastic with then Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh after the 2015 VIP Style Awards.

It’s not just a winner with Irish celebs either... there was that time Outkast’s Big Boi and Andre 3000 turned up the night before their gig in 2014.

Will it survive?

Point proved regarding the club’s popularity, what does that mean for its marketability? Considering it reportedly accumulated profits of €75m in 2018 (the cloakroom returns in the region of €200k a year alone), and has spawned such spin-offs as The Copper Face Jacks’ Ski Trip (imagine the carnage), what if some minted Russian oligarch gets wind of how lucrative the establishment is and swoops, intent on making it a hotspot for the elite?! Where will the lonely hearts go? Where will people arbitrarily lob the gob and fornicate on the floor? Where else in Dublin will you hear The Saw Doctors amid smashing glass?

Nevermind will Coppers survive; will we?

Read more: Copper Face Jacks: 8 of the most memorable stories about the legendary nightspot

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