End of ‘The Wez’


Sad news has reached the NewsFour offices, a local institution is no more. It was a place that made the hearts of young and old race, but for very different reasons. A place that was a breeding ground for young love, a source of happy teenage memories and nightmares for their parents.

The hallowed place we speak of is, of course, Wesley Disco or ‘The Wez’. This reporter and doubtless many who are reading this feel a special connection with The Wez, from the giddy, heart-fluttering first kisses through to the buttock-clenching awkwardness and embarrassment that so often accompanied visits there.

We learned the basics of courtship, the essentials of social interaction away from a home or school environment and most importantly (for some) how to kiss.

Its walls are being torn down to make way for much-needed improvements to Old Wesley Rugby Club that own the venue. In our grief we reached out to some other old regulars.

Niamh Comisky of Rathgar told us, “I’m really sad it’s going but I think it’s probably had its day, it seems a little too much like a pressure cooker for teens these days. This will make me sound so old, but the internet has brought a whole new bunch of pressures for kids. Even in my days there in the 90s we’d be kissing and that’s pretty much it, I think now a lot more is expected.”
We spoke to another past regular.

Nicky attended in the late 1980s and told us about the fashion of the time. “When I was going it was all black clothes and heavy, dark make-up, I was a Cure Head and even my friends that weren’t would still wear big baggy jumpers and boots and the like. Nothing figure-hugging and certainly nothing revealing, there were some that did but during my encounters with the place they were in the great minority.”

The Wez has been a sort of magnet for rumour and myth over the years. Tall tales started by teens or Chinese whispers overheard by fretful parents would build en masse until the inevitable slot on RTE’s Liveline. Joe Duffy would sagely listen to increasingly hysterical mums and dads calling for something to be done about whatever the scandal at the time was.

Imagine, if you will, the vista of having hundreds of mainly well-to-do South Dublin teenagers coming to your establishment to party and pair off, most likely with drink taken. Now imagine the reaction of their often highly litigious parents if any harm or misfortune was to befall their darling child. You could lawyer-up all you wanted but if anything had happened in your place of business there would be hell to pay.

With this firmly in mind, they turned the disco into one of the most heavily monitored and policed in the city. Constant patrols would see every nook and cranny under the glare of a flashlight and the toilets were under even tighter scrutiny. They also took the very progressive step of introducing ‘wet rooms’. These were club dressing rooms which were turned over for use as drunk tanks for wobbly-legged boys and girls, the ones who would otherwise have been outside the premises, perhaps with a friend holding their hair or jacket while they puked up the alcopops. Wet rooms held them in safety while a parent, guardian or some other responsible adult would be summoned to collect them.

Planning documents relating to the work at the site show that the new clubhouse will include extended changing and training facilities, use of the function room for members and guests for entertainment purposes.

In a letter submitted with a planning application on behalf of the club in March 2015 the club said it needed to “re-invent itself”. “The club now finds itself under increasing pressure to maintain its place within the game. Dwindling membership is threatening to render the club’s critical mass unsustainable… to survive the club must re-invent itself,” the letter reads.

When we contacted senior members about their plans they explained that they were not only making room for new members but also bringing the club’s facilities up to the highest international standards. They have managed to fund most of the work themselves, which is no mean feat and it is a hugely positive thing for the area as a whole.

But the club always needs new blood, so if you are one of the now grown-up ex-Wez goers who feel nostalgic, why not contact the club about joining, after all you don’t have to be sporty to enjoy the new bar they’re putting in.

As for the teenage kicks returning to the venue, a club member told us “we’re playing that by ear.”

By Steve Kingston