Wednesday 19 June 2019

David Robbins: Am I chasing after my lost youth by gatecrashing the hipster generation?

My wife is fighting a rear-guard action against middle age, and she has enlisted me in her army.

Up to now, we have lived our lives according to the dictates of our daughter's school calendar and the Leinster rugby team fixture list.

Now, however, we are governed by an email that drops into my wife's inbox every week from a website called

This contains details of gigs, exhibitions and happenings that appeal to the hipster generation, but we gatecrash some of them anyway.

My wife is especially attracted to any event with the phrase "pop-up" in its title – it appeals to the spontaneous, rebellious side of her nature. I go along to carry her bags.

For instance, last weekend, we were at two pop-up craft fairs, one in the offices of the Irish Architectural Archive on Merrion Square and the other in the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen's Green.

Pop-ups are supposed to be spur-of-the-moment events whose existence is communicated to the young and trendy via social networks.

They take place in unexpected venues, and only those with their finger on the pulse of unofficial, underground Dublin know about them.

Both our events were mobbed. The one in the architectural archive – a beautiful Georgian building, by the way – was especially crowded.

Every time I turned around, I seemed to knock over a thin person in skinny jeans and a bow tie.

At one point, while my wife was looking at wittily designed iPhone covers, I wondered about all this clutching after lost youth.

I decided I was not ready to go gently into the good night of Gant pullovers and pleated chinos.

I did not want ever to hear the word "slacks" mentioned in my presence. It says old age in the same way words such as "Complan" and "dentures" do.

And we've had some good experiences along the way, despite having to put up with stares from young people that seemed to say: "Who let the grown-ups in?"

There was a pop-up concert in Earlsfort Terrace, for instance, the highlight of which was a couple of lads making "music" with test tubes and retort flasks. The result sounded like a cross between the Chinese water torture and Mahler's 5th Symphony.

Now, I am beginning to look further afield for young, cutting-edge events to attend. My ultimate goal has become a ticket to Wolvesmouth in Los Angeles, the Holy Grail of pop-ups.

Once a week, in a loft apartment downtown, chef Craig Thornton cooks nine to 12 elaborate courses for 16 people in an open kitchen a few feet from the table.

When he announces a dinner, hundreds respond. He chooses 16 people with an eye towards occupational balance – not too many lawyers or accountants or movie people.

You pay what you think it's all been worth at the end. Most put about $90 (€70) into the pot, which is enough for Thornton to break even.

Some people have waited years to get the call-up to Wolvesmouth, and one diner, an architecture student, based models for her thesis on Thornton's dishes.

If I can get a ticket, it will be like climbing into the DeLorean, hitting the flux capacitor and going back to the days when I was pretty cool myself, with my Bay City Rollers scarf loosely tied about my wrist.

In the meantime, I must make do with what Dublin has to offer, which, I hasten to add, is not at all bad.

Why only the other week, we were at the opening night of My Cousin Rachel at the Gate theatre. (My wife also likes things with "opening night" on the invite.)

Okay, so the Gate is not exactly the ground zero of cool, and it was the play's second run, but at least we were out, and it was an opening night of sorts.

And there was an unexpected bonus. As we threaded our way past dowagers in pearls and mink stoles towards the exit, we realised we were at the younger end of the audience demographic. For a change.

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