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15th Apr 2024

Cosy-core is all the rage in Dublin, but is it an after-effect of covid?

Katy Thornton

Going out out has become less of a thing that excites, and more something that fills me with dread.

Listen, this is a lifestyle trend I’m very much into. It probably comes off the back of the everlasting wellness trend, a way of living that prioritises Y-O-U, sometimes in semi-excessive ways. Cosy-core is a little different – it’s less about getting your 10k steps and listening to a life coach tell you all the ways you’re doing things wrong, and more about, as the name might suggest, getting cosy. Embracing the rainy climate we have and spending copious amounts of time indoors, wrapped in a blanket at least, and in a fully built duvet fort at (doing the) most. An Irish content creator who embodies this trend is Meg Hughes, and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit watching her TikTok vlogs and GRWM to watch a movie in bed vids.

However cosiness comes in many forms, and it’s not just staying at home, believe it or not. If you could imagine yourself doing it while living in a secluded cabin somewhere Airbnb would likely charge you €300 for a night to reserve, then it counts as cosy-core. Dublin recently welcomed a new pottery studio, with all the vibes of Leisureplex’s Pompeii Paints (feel shit, just want her back), giving Dubliners young and old the chance to have their very own Ghost moment, minus Patrick Swayze.

The opening of Board is another signaller of cosy living – this non-alcoholic bar is all about board games, and while you may be obsessively documenting your game of scrabble on socials, there’s something more nostalgic about this, sending us back to weekends in caravan parks or holiday homes on lend from our friends, back before the first thing you asked upon entering a new domain was what’s the WIFI password.

Most recently Capel Street café Mish Mash have introduced a Silent Book Club, which is exactly what it sounds like – a space where readers can gather in a group and spend 1-2 hours engrossed in a novel of their choice without the pressure of discussing. Cosy living comes in many forms, but I enjoy the social aspect of this one in particular.

Add in the likes of tote-bag making, dumpling-making classes, and every variation of painting and prosecco you can think of (sipping, glugging, necking) you name it, and it seems like Dublin is really into the cosy lifestyle.

The covid of it all

Much as I love this trend, the more cynical (and ageing) part of me can’t help but see the inevitable covid-link and the regression of nightlife, not simply because places are closing down at a frighteningly rapid rate, but maybe because this has caused us to have less of an appetite for it. As an incredibly extroverted introvert, the thought of partying for 12 hours non-stop gives me heart palpitations, but maybe it wouldn’t have if my prime partying years hadn’t been robbed. If there was ever a chance of me going to Electric Picnic and raving until 4am, let me tell you that by the time the festival returned in 2022, that chance went up in smoke.

When covid hit in 2020, I was in my prime “going out out” years. I was freshly 24, working full-time with limited expenses, and due to a semi lacking social life in college, I found my years in retail post-college as when I was most likely to head out, dancing in Coppers until 4am. In fact, the last place I went for a bop pre-covid was Coppers, and I’ll always be grateful for that. The night ended when I could no longer deal with the pain in my feet, back when you would suffer a whole night-out wearing heels – I know, I can barely remember it too. A friend of mine, much livelier than me, begged us all to stay out, protesting the entire way home, and you know what, she was right, given we entered lockdown two weeks later, and wouldn’t find ourselves in Coppers again for years.

I will preface and say I was incredibly privileged for that first lockdown – I was still being paid 70% of my wages, but couldn’t work due to the restrictions on retail, and I was living at home quite comfortably, with a family that I don’t despise (it took the second or third lockdown for us to really get sick of each other, so I was luckier than most). I was able to hibernate to an extent, going months without having to put on a pair of jeans (which given I used to work for the same company as Topshop, I’d been bet into Joni jeans for the entirety of my 20s up until that point). Never have I felt more like Regina George in Mean Girls (the 2004 OG) when she said sweatpants were all that fit her, except I revelled in this realisation.

I got myself into a very nice little routine. Wake up about 9ish, go for a very slow 5km run (please forgive my lack of originality) before getting back into bed for literal hours, reading, writing, watching every series under the sun except for Tiger King. I didn’t miss the nights out, which always ended with me desperately trying to Irish goodbye and grab a taxi at the earliest convenience, or even the drinking. Sure I missed my friends, quickly fatiguing of zoom quizzes, and eventually began to feel unfulfilled when unemployment stretched longer for me than I hoped, but the slower way of living was absolute a plus of the covid years for me, something I embraced with open arms, cup of coffee glued to one hand, broken spined book in the other. I lived and breathed cosy-ness – but perhaps my inclination for the softer lifestyle made me blind to the devastating effects the restrictions were having on Dublin nightlife, and would continue to have well into 2024, four years later.

Dublin’s dying nightlife

Though I am one such person into this new cosy living, and probably always would’ve been, I wonder would this same movement have still happened if covid had not. While the government enters its fifth year of attempting to change legislation around late night opening for clubs and bars, and we live with stats like 4/5 Irish nightclubs have closed since 2000, perhaps the turn away from boogie-ing into the wee hours is more of a forced behaviour, out of necessity, than one people are happy to switch to.

Even as someone who experiences more JOMO than FOMO these days, my wish is for any one, young or old, to be able to enjoy the kind of nightlife they want – for the option of it to be there. While the idea of staying out until 6.00 fills me with unadulterated fear, I am nevertheless angry that the government continue to drag their heels on making it happen – when Leo Varadkar was still Taoiseach he referred to a conversation he had with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on the progress made with the bill, saying that she pointed out she had “more important priorities than opening nightclubs late perhaps” although she was still “working on it”. We were promised these late hours would come in this summer; now we’ll be lucky if we see them in 2024 at all – there’s even concerns with Simon Harris taking over as Taoiseach that his party is pressuring him to abandon this change in legislation in order to focus on their “core values” The Journal reports. Former Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan tweeted that he didn’t think the party should focus on “all night drinking” while TD Michael Ring, in conversation with RTÉ Radio said they shouldn’t focus on, “this daft idea of opening pubs all night”.

So struggling is Dublin’s nightlife, we have just gotten a Night Mayor in the form of Sea Sessions’ Ray O’Donoghue, tasked with getting things back on track, a job title that has been popularised in Europe and other cities with much better night-time economies than ourselves. The idea of a Night Mayor has been an idea that has been floating down for almost 10 years according to Nialler 9 and O’Donoghue’s main role, in his own words, will be to get Dublin’s night-time economy to “parallel similar economies in European Capitals” which only further proves the assistance it desperately needs at this point. The call for a Night Mayor began in 2016, signalling that Dublin nightlife was already in trouble long before covid hit, but the 2020 pandemic certainly didn’t help matters.

While I love the cosy life, and think it’s great that we have activities that don’t involve alcohol, there is a cynical part of me that wonders if I’d feel differently had the covid restrictions never come into place, or moreso, would the Dublin going out culture be in a healthier position. It’s great to have campaigns such as Give Us The Night actively fighting to modernise Ireland’s nightlife, spreading awareness on everything from SEOs, to licensing laws, but without intervention from the government, we could continue to see the decline of clubs and going out culture, despite the new Night Mayor… after all, he wouldn’t be needed if we weren’t already in a nightmare.

Dublin should be for everyone, but the recent trends have all been informed by the cost of living crisis, or covid – in a major European city, there should be space for cosiness, and for nightlife. Changing things is within the government’s power – if they only take the time to make it a priority.


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