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Andy Carmody and his wife Una, dancing at home in their sitting room in the company of friends Ena Brennan and her brother-in-law Jerry Abraham. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare social dancing group under threat from e-ticketing rules

A SOCIAL lifeline for hundreds of people from Clare, and beyond, may have had its last dance, due to new rules on e-ticketing, writes Fiona McGarry.

Members of the Dancing for Pleasure group have had to sit it out over the long months of lockdown.

As restrictions eased for the live events sector, they were keen to dust off their dancing shoes.

Organisers were dismayed, however, to find out that the rule on advance ticketing applies, not just to nightclubs, but to their social dancing outings.

Regular attendees, who range in age from 60 to 90, are unlikely to take to the e-ticketing system, organisers believe.

“We love our dancing,” said Ennis-based committee member Andy Carmody.

“Now, we have completely lost our exercise and our social life. A lot of people are not into the internet. I just don’t think that having to buy a ticket by email, at least an hour before the dance, will work for us.

“It’s not really something that suits people of our age and we’ve had to call off two events already.”

Andy, who told The Champion he is “84-and-a-half”, organises the music for the dances which, before the pandemic, had been running every week for the last 34 years.

He said he fully backs the requirement to present a vaccination certificate at the door.

“We have no problem at all with that and the great thing about our venue, the Auburn Lodge, is that nobody is allowed in without a Covid cert.

“The e-ticketing is a problem because, up to now, people were able to pay on the door. When we heard about the new rule, we though it would only apply to nightclubs. Our dances only run from 8.30pm to 11pm, it’s not exactly late-night.”

With the dances attracting more than 100 people from across Clare and Limerick, they have been a mainstay in the social calendar for dancing enthusiasts.

Pre-pandemic, Andy and his wife Una would regularly attend dances around the country.

“We would travel with friends and could go to three or four dances every week,” he said.

Andy described himself as an enthusiast for “old time dancing”. “It’s the kind of dancing we did at Paddy Conn’s Hall, where Madden’s Furniture is today. That venue was known all over Ireland.”

As to the future of Dancing for Pleasure, an exemption from the regulations may be its only hope.

“We would hope that what we’re doing, because it’s not late at night, would be allowed without e-ticketing,” Andy said.

“We’re not clubbers. We don’t have a bar and we’re out the door by 11pm.”

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