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gettin' the shift

12 memories every Irish person has of the local teenage disco

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.

DOES THE PHRASE “Will ya meet me mate?” send a chill down your spine? Do you still have a penchant for body glitter? Do you know all the moves to Saturday Night by Whigfield? You probably attended a teenage disco or two.

Any decade, any city, any town, whether you went to one in your whole life or one every week – if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.

The decidedly unglamorous settings


Parish halls, rugby clubs, glorified barns. If you could fit 30+ teenagers in there, you had  a disco.

Being too self-conscious to dance properly

Shuffling. Swaying. Big fish, small fish, cardboard box.

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Just add crippling self-doubt and you’ve got the average teen’s full repertoire of dance moves.

Both looking forward to and dreading the slow set

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So much could go wrong here. But it was a chance to get close to the person you fancied, so it couldn’t be missed.

Terrible, terrible music

In the 1980s, it was Rick Astley. In the 1990s, it was the Macarena. In the 2000s, it would have been the DJs Cammy, Sammy or Rankin.

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Don’t allow nostalgia to cloud your judgement. They’re all terrible.

Terrible, terrible clothes

Think of the style of the era, but LESS.

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The tiniest skirt you could get away with leaving the house in (to be swapped for a much tinier skirt once you reached your friend’s house).  String tops. Dress shirts for the lads.

And body glitter. So much body glitter.

Having one of your first sups of alcohol on the bus to the disco

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And feeling incredibly cool and rebellious.

“Will you shift my friend?”

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You either a) did the asking, b) were asked or c) were the friend. No one was safe.

Hearing rumours that someone was going ‘all the way’ out the back

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Or at least some of the way. Whatever, you still CAN’T BELIEVE IT.

Trading shocking tales of discos in big towns

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Wezz in Dublin had (and still has) a reputation of being The Absolute Worst. Your friend’s cousin goes there and she told them everything.



Your own disco never really matched up, did it? (You probably didn’t want it to.)

The weekly dust-up outside the venue

What was the reason again? Doesn’t matter. HIT HIM! HIT HIM!

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The shame of being picked up by your parents afterwards

And trying to disguise the fact that you were out of your little tree on alcopops, or that you’d just been wearing the face off some young one.


And exchanging stories the next day

It was all about the numbers – how many cans? How many times did you get the shift? How many fights?

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(Sadly, the same thing still applies to your adult social life.)

Share your cherished memories of teenage discos in the comments – but keep it clean, OK?

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