Dancing at the Funky

Dancing at the Funky1

We Irish love to horse it back. We cherish our world-renowned reputation.

Previously, if our national inclination to drink to excess was troublesome or worrying to you, you were likely to keep such ideas to yourself as everyone around you availed of any opportunity to get hammered. If you did voice your concern, you could be accused of being a lightweight or ‘no craic at all’. But a change is occurring in our relationship with alcohol. Perhaps with all our international travel- and with an ever-diversifying ethnic society, our eyes have been opened to the colossal difference in how other countries consume alcohol. Some people are now comfortable acknowledging what they see as our supposed dysfunctional rapport with booze. But this does not mean they do not want to go out and have fun. But if you do not want to drink or be surrounded by drunken people on a night out, where do you go, on a Saturday night, when the only places to socialise are pubs, bars and clubs.

Funky Seomra is a music night for non-drinkers featuring styles such as klezmer, electro swing, soul, funk, reggae, Afro beat, Brazilian, West and South African and old school dance all under the one roof. This eclectic night features much more than just dancing. You get a range of entertainment such as live drumming, massage and shiatsu, face painting, cafes, an arts and games zone, a funky chill out area and wall visuals.

Funky Seomra started off in Cultivate in 2003 in Temple Bar. But, after only four events there, it had to move to the RDS. The crowds that turned up were too large for the size of the venue, with queues of people down the street trying to get in. In the RDS, volunteers spend the day before each event decorating and dressing up the space with snazzy and funky furniture and drapings. People who attend the events compare it to a “mini Electric Picnic”.

Folks of all ages, from teenagers to retirees, attend and there are also special dance events to cater for children. Individuals and groups used to travel up to Dublin for Funky Seomra in such large numbers that the events are now being run in Cork and Galway as well on a regular basis, with plans to expand to Belfast and Limerick too.

David Mooney is the main man and founder of Funky Seomra. When he was 23, he was a dance student and his dance training made him aware of healthier options he could take. He tells us he had “done the drinking scene” and realised that it was not the craic he thought it would be. When he was 25, he started to organise the Funky Seomra events, where people could go out to socialise without alcohol or drugs being present.

For David, Funky Seomra encompasses three core ideas. The first is to give a choice to people who want to get dolled up and go out for a dance, but who are not intent on getting drunk for the sake of being drunk. The second idea revolves around dance. He is promoting a non judgemental space to dance, as the RDS has a very large space to encourage a freedom to express yourself through dancing. Many of his dance students attended the Funky Seomra events and their freedom on the dance floor encouraged other attendees. Funky Seomra challenges the need for drink to loosen people up before they get up on the dance floor. He recognises that drink is treated as a medication to help people “to keep up” when they are out and David finds that once people are in a non-alcoholic space they do not carry the usual inhibitions. You will see for yourself when you attend a Funky Seomra occasion; sobriety stops no one having a boogie. The third notion is community, people meeting up on a regular basis and building relationships. Patrons at Funky Seomra enjoy the night and they actually “remember the conversations they have had with others” the next day. Funky Seomra has also been responsible for quite a few weddings since it’s inception, so the success of Funky is marked in family life and not just in the crave for a good bop at the weekend.

Funky Seomra is next on the 20th of April in the RDS. €15. Volunteers get in free.


The idea for the Funky Seomra grew from the Embodiment dance classes that David teaches. They are held each week on Wednesday evenings in St Andrews Resource Center. Embodiment is quite different from other dance classes. They are a practice of dance and meditation that concentrate on the freedom of bodily movement and your enjoyment of dance, as opposed to the performance of specific dance steps.

It focuses very much on meditation and the experience of dancing in a non-judgmental space. It is more of a movement and mediation practice. David describes the sessions as “two hours per week where you can come back to yourself, instead of being outward focused, as most of us live quite busy lives in the city now”. This is where the meditation side of the practice comes in. The purpose of the class is to connect your heart, body and mind, in a quiet space, away from the fast pace of life, by de-stressing your body through dance.

Men and women, of all ages, attend. The classes are on a drop-in basis with about thirty people turning up to each class. There is no need to commit to a number of classes and you can go when you feel the need for some time on your own quiet “island”. Some attendees have been attending for years. David’s approach to his classes comes from his studies at the School of Movement Medicine, which he then incorporated with his education in Psychotherapy.

Embodiment Class: Each Wednesday at 7.45pm-9.45pm in St Andrews Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. Drop in pay per class rate or is €15 or €12 for low waged, unemployed and students.

By Tracy O’Brien