“Upstairs Diceys” as it is affectionately known reopened its doors last month, just in time for its 20th Birthday and a packed Christmas schedule.
Opened in 1995, the venue in the small town of Strabane seemed an unlikely location for a so-called “alternative” venue, but quickly became known across the country for its alternative discos and promotion of local bands.
Whilst Friday nights were famous for the ‘Shanks Disco‘ with DJ Stevie A, Saturday nights over the years became synonymous with promoting both local and not so local bands. In local terms, the venue was that strange place where the rockers went, ‘Fraggle Rock’ to those who didn’t understand or appreciate rock, metal, indie, alternative/call it what you will music. To those who frequented it weekend after weekend, it became like a second home (or for some just home).
Catering for the musical tastes of so-called Generation X (whilst bigger nearby towns and cities failed to) help to explain the ongoing popularity of the venue. Grunge was apparently dead, but in fact was far from it and Britpop was filling up much of the nation’s airwaves and music charts (indeed in more recent times Tom Hingley (Inspiral Carpets), Chris Helme (The Seahorses) and Mark Morris (Bluetones) all added to the venue’s impressive CV).
Local bands to make a name for themselves in the earlier days included The Avari, God Talking Soul and Runningforcover. A new century, a few different faces (and some older ones) and a burgeoning music scene in the town and beyond brought with it a host of infamous gigs. Many of the country’s most well respected bands from the past 15 years passed through its doors – Fighting With Wire, Triggerman, ASIWYFA, LaFaro, A Plastic Rose, Mojo Fury to name a few. Freak’s, Paul Tully, Gerard i2, Tokyo Empire and Those Ghosts are only a few of the countless Strabane acts who also cut their teeth there.
Indeed, more than a few bands who played the venue went on to considerable success, most notably Two Door Cinema Club, In Case Of Fire and Frank Turner. In fact Dicey Reillys, to give it its proper title, is so well revered in local circles that in 2007 a certain Grandfather, Mr Leland Cobain even visited the venue whilst delving into his Irish roots.
Never fancy, far from pretentious, the venue has just reopened following an extensive renovation, whilst maintaining all its original charm and appeal.