KILDARE OPINION: Whatever happened to Kildare's ballrooms of romance?

Paul O'Meara remembers the glory days of the CY, Nijinsky’s and Lumville

Paul O'Meara


Paul O'Meara


KILDARE OPINION: Whatever happened to Kildare's ballrooms of romance?

The Kildare town CMWS

Nobody gets asked to dance anymore; because the rules of what might be loosely termed the mating game have changed.

The discos or nightclubs of the 1970s and 1980s have disappeared, and with them their black-and-white certainties.

Those were the days you straight up asked a girl if she wanted to dance, risking the humiliation of a “No” or the less deflationary “Yes”, only to be parked at the edge of the dance floor after a single boogie. A what? A dance dammit, a dance.

The girls and boys of today gather in late bars, late night venues and the discos of the day now reside in the Museum of Boy Meets Girl.

Chatting up or breaking the ice is more subtle now. You learn from the way the conversation is going whether she’s interested or not. There are no hostages given to fortune by directly asking if she’d like to dance, which measured against today’s subtle approaches is , in hindsight, akin to asking if she'd like to hop into bed.

Everybody knew back then if you went to the disco you were chasing boys or girls, maybe both.

Today if you sidle in to Grace’s or One New Row in Naas, you may be obeying a hormonal pull or you could just be out for a drink, or a mineral water or a solution to a bout of insomnia.

For some of us the first stepping out was in the CYMS, as it was then known, in Kildare town. Salubrious it wasn’t, even by the harmlessly low standards of the day. We abbreviated it to the CY and descended in diesel-fumed busloads to chase young ones. The CY was a popular venue and attracted some of the top national, even international, musical acts.

One of the many remarkable things about the CY was that it didn’t sell alcohol and 'minerals' — carbonated orange and lemonade — were sold in bottles with straws that didn’t bend. Nevertheless, three quarters of the patrons were half cut most nights. If you lived in Rathangan, as some of us did, it felt like Copper Face Jacks.

We used to think we had it sorted. The girls in Kildare were a bit like us, only six miles away, so they understood our language.

Newbridge had venues like Nijinsky’s, The Curragh Rugby Club, Treacy’s bar at the Liffey end of the town run, Keadeen Hotel and Lumville House. You mightn’t hit all in a weekend but the options were glorious.

We had a theory that Lumville on a Sunday night was full of girls who had just split up with their boyfriends; so over we’d come to help them over their trauma.

At the time Nijinsky’s was a little upmarket and so, albeit less so, was the Keadeen. Treacy’s and the Curragh were, let’s say, less pretentious.

But being from Rathangan, we had something of an inferiority complex. Just across the border in Edenderry was the Copper Beech. This was the regular destination on a Friday night where just being from Rathangan could be enough to get you lined up for a slap and that’d be before you approached any of their girls. They couldn’t call us boggers, because they were boggers too.

If anything we looked down on the Edenderry venue. Yes, we were all from the bog but they were from the Offaly bog.

This meant therefore they were a little less sophisticated and, or so we thought, more susceptible to our charms. They could probably smell the Hai Karate off us from the Tunnel Bridge.

The girls that were most out of reach were from Naas.

We had the Naas girls on a pedestal and they sounded nothing like their Edenderry or Kildare town equivalents.

They had a warm swimming pool over there, a big imposing garda station (then in the town centre where the Court Hotel is now), their own hospital, orange public lights , a couple of racecourses and roads with white lines running down the middle.

That was a lot to take in before you asked one of them how they were fixed for a dance — never mind a selfie.