087: The Funnel Generation: Irish electronic music 1994 to 2009

Shock World Service 087:
The Funnel Generation By Kate Butler & the Golden Maverick
23/7/19 Dublin, Ireland

The Funnel Generation: Irish electronic music 1994 :
The Funnel, a 300 capacity venue in Dublin, was open for the blink of an eye: 1997-99. The magically desegregating effect of rave – where everyone and anyone was welcome on the dance floor – had come and gone. The Funnel arrived at a time when rave had been fully co-opted by commercial interests.

Rave music had become delineated with hardline positions taken on genres. Your music alignment gave a lot away about where you saw yourself in this world: techno uptown, trance downtown, house for the beautiful people, jungle for the fringe.

But there were lots of us floating around, looking for a community. Alan O’Boyle and Dennis McNulty of Decal, along with their manager/promoter Paul Timoney of Ultramack, found the place: the Funnel, 24 City Quay, Dublin 2. A long room on the first floor, with low ceilings and no frills. After a while, a bar was built downstairs with a fancy picture window looking out onto the Liffey.

Ultramack started the Phunk City nights there, bringing over people like Autechre, Alex Patterson, and Mike Paradinas, but also promoting Irish acts like Anodyne, Ambulance, Deep Burial and the Fear collective.

With some limited exceptions, this became the pattern at the Funnel: Irish promoters with Irish labels, club nights with homegrown collectives of DJs and producers. Eamonn Doyle of the D1 Recordings techno label moved in with his Model One night, as did jungle/dnb crew Bassbin, which started its label while the Funnel was open.

The Funnel was where they found an audience looking for experimentation, euphoria, messiness and dissonance, with an understanding that this was our culture, happening in our place, in our time.

If there was any criticism of the Funnel movement, it would be a strain of snobbery exhibited towards commercial dance music. This was an understandable reaction against the mainstream perception of rave as a purely hedonistic exercise (and in the context of a generation still breaking out of decades of repression). But it could lead to bouts of chin stroking and probably acted as a barrier for a lot of folk. But at its core, the Funnel scene embraced – most articulately and cogently through the music – the freedom of dance.

The sense of something ‘happening’ was palpable in the Funnel. There were aesthetic differences, but the genre delineations became a bit broken down: the DIY, anti-commercial ethos was the same across the board and all of these micro-communities became cross-pollinated and interlinked forever more.

As is the way with these things, the building changed ownership and the venue was shut down at the end of 1999. It was devastating.

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