CLUB SCENE Soulful sounds at the coolest club around; Frenzied footwork, 7 days a week.
I LEARNED a long time ago that reputations can be built on complete hogwash, and so I appraoched Ri Ra with an open mind - despite its tag as Dublin's coolest club.
So cool in fact that it doesn't even have to subject the spoilt-for-choice capitol clubbers with an endless blitz of advertising.
It just goes quietly about its business of stuffing its rafters to the gills with ecstatic crowds every night.
"All rightie - impress me then," I thought smugly to myself as I climbed the stairs to the club.
Well, it did.
The first thing I noticed about Ri Ra was that it is more like two clubs rolled into one. During the day, the Globe, which is one of Dublin's hippest pubs, caters for the bright and beautiful with the soul searching sounds of some of the top DJs around.
But once 12 o'clock rolls round the pub is transformed into the chill- out part of the club with soft lighting and superb mixes.
You can expect to see anything from Trainspotting to Raging Bull projected high and wide on the near wall, counterpointed by other psychedelic animations.
The loose, laid back atmosphere is infectious and while there's an exciting buzz about the place, those seeking frenzied footwork tend to stay downstairs.
I found that I was enjoying myself so much I hadn't even bothered to explore the rest of the club, such was the craic. But finally curiosity got the better of me and I stole downstairs for a peek.
It was like I had walked onto a different planet, never mind a different club. Master DJ DC fed his frenzied flock of foot tappers with a staple diet of thumping, bumping basslines and progressive house hits, while the two bars battled bravely with the boisterious crowd.
THE place is deceptively large with cavernous enclaves surrounding the wide dance floor in front of the DJ's booth.
Those favouring garish light shows and spot checks by the style police had best look elsewhere. The crowds here are having more fun than fashion parades.
Managers Fergus Gillie, who runs the club at weekends and Frank Monohan, who takes over on week nights, know that strutting your stuff can be tough on the twinkle toes, and so for those who work up an appetite, A delicious meal is available every night of the week - free of charge.
Though I did meet a few blow-ins who were there for the first visit, most of the people I bumped into were regular devotees of this most excellent venue.
There was an amazing mix of clubbers from Ireland, Europe, America, Canada and even Australia.
The age range was remarkable too. Predominently in their twenties, there were those in their teens through to clubbers in their thirties and beyond.
While there were some divas dancing in designer club wear, most present opted to bop til they dropped in casual street threads.
There was an almost communal vibe to the place. Everyone there seemed to belong - as if it was a home away from home where punters were just having a mad party with their mates.
Clubs which open seven nights a week can run the danger of becoming stale - but not Ri Ra.
Every night has an atmosphere all its own. Sunday night's Too Damn Funky speaks for itself, with sultry bump and grind hip hop tunes delivered by Cyprus and Keith Lawrence from Mutiny and Freemin in London.
Monday nights are "Strictly Handbag' - a major retro excursion, featuring crowd pleasers from the 70s and 80s.
ON Tuesday nights Mark Dixon dishes out his exemplary house sounds while Glen Brady and Rory Jones let rip with their reggae and scratch mixes upstairs. Wednesday night is Tongue 'n' Cheek featuring Donal Doneen of Radio Ireland, and Clare Maloney.
Thursday night is the famous' Funk Off' session with the legendary James Holroyd hosting about once a month.
Friday's Swirl is well named, bearing in mind DC's spiralling hypnotic beats.
Saturday's 'Swank' boasts the incomparable DJ Aoife McCann taking no prisoners. There is a healthy competitiveness between all concerned to make their night not just the best in the club, but in the capitol.
I was a bit surprised to find so many regulars dedicated to the place - but I was taken aback when I met a wild bunch of Ri Ra staff, so enthused with the place that they spent their off-duty time on the premises.
Though it is still one of the most popular clubs in town Ri Ra must also rank as one of the most reasonable pricewise.
HOW TO FIND IT
Ri-Ra - Just go to the rear of the Globe Bar on Georges Street, Dublin
Friday pounds 5
Saturday pounds 6
Sunday to Thursday, pounds 4
PRICE OF DRINKS
Pint: pounds 2.90
Short: pounds 2.50
Soft drink: pounds 1.40
11pm - 2.40am, seven nights a week: Space for 500 souls
Techno to retro, depending on the night and casual to club wear