Hours after the Dublin Pride Parade had wandered through the city, I made my way down to the basement of Fibber Magee’s. Once there I was greeted with booming dance tunes being played by Martin McCann and Gerry Moore, and a plethora of leather straps, rubber costumes and pup masks galore. Everyone was comfortable in their skin, socialising with old friends and new acquaintances. I was welcomed with open arms by Eamon Redmond, one of the cofounders of Geared, and Stephen Kelly, a long-time volunteer and party-goer. I had met with the two a week or so beforehand to learn more about their night and how it has stayed alive for 10 amazing years.
Eamon and Stephen described Geared to me as a “social space, not a play space,” and it was clear on the night that people respected those guidelines. “People who might have chatted online can actually meet and socialise in Dublin rather than having to travel all the time.” The two shared that before the birth of Geared, Ireland never had a kink space that lasted for long and so they were inspired to start their own.
“I wasn’t looking to be an event organiser at all,” admitted Eamon, “but when the last kink night shut down in Dublin in 2012 and I had heard that Fibber Magee’s was looking to host more unique events, we checked the venue out, thought it was fantastic and had our first night there in January 2013.”
They reflected that before Geared they would often have to travel across Europe to find like-minded people at kink events, visiting cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and London. The first Geared night was heavily inspired by what Eamon saw at these fetish events in Europe. “When I first imagined the night I saw it as a nightclub, so we had the stage in the downstairs Fibber’s area closed off with a camouflage net and played music on an iPod. We later invited El Styra, a unique drag DJ, to play for us.”
Geared celebrated their 10 year anniversary this year with a huge party featuring El Styra (still spinning tracks for the crew all these years later) and guest singer, Jack Madden, who wowed the crowd with his talent. “When I looked back at the photos from our nights in the last 10 years you could see the crowd was predominantly men in leather,” reflected Eamon. “After the pandemic in 2020 the crowd has really evolved and a new generation has come to us, looking for something different.
“In the past you would also mostly see white men in the crowd but now everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, race or identity, it doesn’t matter where you come from. Even the clothing has changed in the last 10 years, with people wearing rubber instead of leather as it is more affordable. The fashion and fetish gear is constantly developing.”
Stephen looked back on his years of attending the event saying, “We still get a lot of regulars that we see at each night but there are a lot of fresh faces. Our friends bring their friends and the cycle continues. I actually brought some of my straight friends to one of the nights before and they were very surprised with how much they enjoyed themselves. We’ve also had people come in that didn’t look like they matched the status quo but they’ve told us they read about our night and really wanted to come along! It’s for everyone as long as you’re respectful.”
Geared inevitably had to close its doors when the entire world went into lockdown. “When Covid hit we never really knew if it would happen again,” shared Stephen. “The week that everything went on lockdown we were supposed to have a party happen but sadly had to cancel it. Once we finally had our first one after the pandemic, in April 2021, we were worried nobody was going to show up, but as you can see Geared is still alive and well!”
The duo laughed about how the dance floor developed as the nights went on. “Previously there would only be a handful of people dancing to the music by the end of the night but recently we see everyone on the dance floor just as the night begins. Sometimes we see the burliest lads swinging their hips to singers such as Whitney Heuston! Music brings a lot of people together.”
I next asked the two if they have anything exciting planned for future Geared nights ahead. “We have tried different things before but we’re happy to stick with how it is right now,” commented Eamon before reflecting on Geared’s history. “We held a few Mr Geared competitions in the past with our first one being in 2014, and later introduced extra titles like Mr Leather and Mr Rubber. We even brought the winners to the Pride Parade that year when we walked as a group.
“Following that, we did a few fundraisers with the title holders and it helped keep our nights going. Those competitions on stage for a while became a focus for our nights but we found that there were a lot of people that weren’t interested in it, it stopped the music and was quite a distraction from the night. We’re happy to have tried all those things out and we may revisit them again someday.”
Stephen added, “The night is always developing with the crowd though. We don’t have many ambitious plans ahead right now. We’ve tried out lots of things and found where we belong.”
Fibber Magee’s basement is a home to a lot of alternative communities, Dance to the Underground and Break Stuff Nu Metal club nights to name a few, and it was really heartwarming for me to see that Geared called this space a home too. Eamon shared that Fibber’s has become their dedicated space and their relationship with the management, which hasn’t changed in the past 10 years, is very strong. “Fibber’s has that raw, alternative aesthetic that we love and we feel right at home.”
I asked Eamon and Stephen what they thought of Ireland’s kink scene, seeing as they have witnessed many evolutions of it. Stephen shared, “I think it is alive now more than it ever has been, we always hear of things going on every weekend or so.” Eamon agreed, “A lot of the events are quite underground but Geared has an open door policy. We started underground too but as more people came along with more confidence in their identities we have become a very open club.” They both believe that people have become much more comfortable to visit these spaces in the last number of years, “The younger generation especially exude confidence when attending these events. They throw caution to the wind and want people to notice what they wear. In the past there was more stigma, there was more shame, whereas it’s different now.”
As I filtered through the tight crowd of Geared and took snapshots, I really felt a sense of comfort, confidence and fun radiating throughout the venue. Whether you were fully dressed in cotton or wearing some skimpy leather harnesses, you felt free to present as whatever you wanted to. People were there to catch up with friends, go out with their partners and enjoy socialising with some catchy tunes in the background and I couldn’t recommend a more accepting kink space than Geared.
If this all sounds like something you’d like to experience yourself then you’re in luck. Geared are having their next party on August 26.
Follow @gearedireland on Instagram to keep up to date and be the first to snatch tickets for future events.