CLUB TROPICANA, the amazing summer club night for people with intellectual disability, returns to the Black Box next week for its ninth annual outing, and has also been expanded to a three-day mini festival running from Wednesday June 26 to Friday 28.
As part of the festive programme some of Galway's finest indie and electronic acts come together on Thursday June 27, at the Black Box, for Club Gardenia in what promises to be a special gig. Music on the night will be provided by local record labels/collectives Strange Brew, Citóg Records, New Heights Music Group, and the Open Mic Night at Róisín Dubh.
Acts performing include Oh Boland, Slyrydes, Anna Mullarkey, NewDad, and Jack Lee. Club Gardenia will also feature performances from the mixed abilities group Electric Dreams and tunes from the Bounce DJ Crew. Club Gardenia is being organised by David Boland and, over a Monday afternoon chat, he told me how it came together.
“I used to run music events in the Róisín Dubh, and two years ago at one of those I saw the mixed abilities band Electric Dreams who came out of the That’s Life programme which helps people with intellectual disabilities to engage with the arts," he says. "When I saw Electric Dreams, they were amazing, they brought the house down, it was a really good gig.
"That got me interested in the work that That’s Life does and I got chatting to Andrew Madec, its co-ordinator, and we kept in touch. Andrew later contacted me to say That’s Life was running its Club Tropicana event in the Black Box and that this year they wanted to expand it into a three day festival. As part of that they wanted to have an inclusive music night and asked me if I could I bring some of the local music scene together to support the event.”
'Not only is it great for That’s Life, it’s great for the local music scene to have a diverse range of acts from different collectives and scenes within the city come together to put on a gig and hopefully reach a new audience'
The impressive line-up David has assembled for Club Gardenia shows he got a great response from the local music heads. “It was an amazing response from everyone I contacted,” he agrees. “I first went around to local record labels and they all got back to me saying it was a wonderful idea and would love to be involved and I got the same response from the acts who are playing; everyone was really enthusiastic and supportive of the idea. I think it is going to be a real feel-good night. To be honest this is probably the biggest and most important music event I've been part of before. It's a beautiful idea and the local music scene has really come on board.”
That’s Life, under whose aegis the festival takes place, is an arts programme of the Brothers of Charity Services Galway which offers people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to discover and realise their artistic potential through working with established artists and participating in high quality arts programmes. Its vision is of a society in which people with intellectual disabilities experience and contribute to its cultural and artistic life.
The three-day programme of Club Tropicana includes workshops, installations and performances. Club Gardenia will take place within a giant art installation created after months of prop making workshops by people with intellectual disabilities. “I haven’t seen it yet myself,” David confesses, “all I know is that its theme is a secret garden.”
David concludes our interview by admitting he would like to see Club Gardenia become a regular fixture in the Club Tropicana programme. “I’d hope to do it again," he says. "Not only is it great for That’s Life, it’s great for the local music scene to have a diverse range of acts from different collectives and scenes within the city come together to put on a gig and hopefully reach a new audience.”
Club Gardenia is at the Black Box on Thursday June 27 from 7pm to 11.45pm. Tickets are €10 from www.tht.ie More information on the full Club Tropicana programme is at adiarts.ie/event/music-thats-life-present-club-tropicana-2019/