Top Hat Dún Laoghaire – A Music Venue Through The Eras
Dún Laoghaire’s Top Hat venue played a vital role in the cultural life of the area. Its impact stretched far beyond Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. From its opening night with a splendid orchestra in 1953 until its final major gig in 1991 (Sonic Youth/Nirvana), the venue presented a variety of music genres to audiences. In fact, it is possible to trace the history of popular music in Ireland by examining the archives of the Top Hat.
Here you will see the evolution of formally dressed dancers in the 1950s to the slightly more casual showband days with the Miami, the Capitol, Chips, the Nevada and Tony Kenny. Roller skates replaced flares in the 1970s, although by night Doc Marten’s boots were the footwear of many with the arrival of punk. The Top Hat hosted The Clash, The Jam, The Stranglers and The Damned as well as up and coming Irish bands who opened for them: U2, Virgin Prunes, The Vipers and The Golden Horde.
Later the Top Hat played a vital role in Dublin’s thriving skateboard culture, and even hosted the legendary Tony Hawk. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it also welcomed the new tide of metal bands including Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Faith No More, Sepultura and Suicidal Tendencies. Memorable performances by the Human League, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Waterboys, Hothouse Flowers, Something Happens!, The Pogues, The Mission, The Fountainhead, the Pleasure Cell, Those Handsome Devils and Carl Mann and Nirvana in their earliest days also took place.
Yet the Top Hat’s story is not just about entertainment - it is a story of enterprise too.
In this exhibition, you can explore not only the music of the Top Hat but also the business minds behind it. Most importantly it celebrates the people who made the Top Hat what it was - the dancers, the staff and concert-goers.
Members of the IADT community have also shared their memories of the Top Hat, which you can read alongside images of the different eras.
Visit the online exhibition here.