I’ve never been all to familiar with squat culture nor have I ever had the opportunity to visit the home of someone who lives in a squat. According to statistics there are over 1 billion squatters world wide, that’s almost 1 in every 7 people. I had often read about a prevalent westernised squat culture in the UK and other parts of Europe, but I was all too unfamiliar with it in Ireland. I always felt that there was probably far stricter legislation’s in operation in Ireland to purge squatters from their acquired homes and to deter others from ever settling into an unoccupied space. There seems like there was no leniency at all and what ever “squatter rights” that once existed have since been abolished.
But with vacant spaces on every corner and many buildings in receivership where are all of these 1 in 7 people living, surely Ireland cant be excluded from these statistics.
Last Friday I received an invitation to a very special gathering: to a friend’s squat in the city centre for an evening of spoken word and performance in a now occupied space. I was really very excited to spend an evening in the home of now many creators and free thinkers. I arrived at a large solid metal gate where I lifted up a small metal flap/eye-hole and peered in, a man with a scarf over his face and large flamed torch approached the door and opened up it to let me in. Myself and two other guests were quietly, without a word guided through a large concrete court yard to a derelict warehouse space. The moon was full and there was a sense of excitement and wanderlust in the air. We walked to the top of the warehouse to an area that was covered with art work all over the walls, candles and couches everywhere. I found my friends and let the evening begin.
I had child like sense of wonder all evening as many of Dublin’s best kept secrets performed music and spoken word. The atmosphere was encouraging, supportive, and electric. The night was filled with highs and lows, of words filled with sadness, love and nostalgia. I left feeling like my soul was full and my eyes were open.
There was a sense of sharing, resourcefulness and community that Dublin is so desperately lacking. It was refreshing to see a group of like-minded individuals come together to create something out of nothing: a home.
They will be hosting their new event, a small Christmas market, on Nov 29th to support their communal garden project. Keep your ear close to the ground for details.
Words and pictures: SBK Fox