Perched on a high chair in the bustling Alma cafe, I write as the ambitious summer sun swells through the window; warming smiling faces. Coffee fills the air, propelled by moving bodies with keep cups, sunglasses and hangovers. Capturing the quintessential idyllic Saturday morning I am compelled to tell you all about what I got up to last night…because it was epic. And as I write this I am cringing slightly because I am not even sure I am going to be able to do it justice… but stay with me on this…
We are on the doorstep of the first anniversary of the Abortion Referendum in Ireland; our second revolutionary act after the Marriage Ref. Fundamentally changing the fabric of Irish culture. If the history of Irish society was a perpetual woolen scarf, over the last 5 years or so a glistening strand of colour and glitter has found its way into the pearly mix. As we revolt against our old stories we have knitted together strands of art, music, politics, feminism and queer culture into a spirit of solidarity and shared resistance. I don’t overstate it to say that I have not seen this better reflected than in last night’s performance of Riot in Vicar Street.
The perfectly-titled Riot is one of the most important representations of Irish culture to take the stage. Returning from its run in Australia, Riot once again comes to Dublin to starkly remind us how far we have come. Urban poetry retells our stories of grief and rebellion; holding up a mirror to the entire audience as we collectively remember our scars. It holds the persecution of the past in a raised fist and compels us all to say “never again”. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not preaching from a pulpit. There is no overt, hostile call to arms or drudging politicising. There is, however, a Roscommon-clad, Tayto-munching striptease. A Dutch Gold Irish dance. There’s acrobatics, drag, cabaret, comedy, flirtation, nudity, pride and poetry. There is a respect for where we have been and a recognition that it is not where we are going. We have taken back the pen and are writing a new story for Ireland.
And I’m genuinely very sorry, because you may not get to see this sold out, limited run show. But rest assured that if you miss this production the tenets of Riot are playing out all around you today. Riot is in the 48 year old divorcee who straps on glass stilettos for pole dance class. Riot is in the nurse who eat curry chips at 3am on their “lunch break”. Riot is the two men holding hands in a restaurant. Riot is lipstick, lashes and stubble. Riot is the rebellion of starting a business after seeking asylum. Riot is a sunny Saturday morning with a ridiculous hangover writing ridiculous words. Riot is liberty and colour. It is everywhere, and I am so grateful that This Is Pop Baby have shone a glistening discoball in my imagination and reminded me of how fucking powerful we are.
Riot is Ireland, we are Rioting every day in every small act of rebellion that we take. Riot is how far we have come and the distance we are going. We are Riot.