Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, Camden, NW17AN
I have been here before. The Dublin Castle is a treasured live music venue in Camden that has been open for over 28 years. I’ve met Suggs and seen The Darkness bizarrely sing to their own songs next to the coveted jukebox. It was the birthplace of Madness and, like most Camden venues, Amy Winehouse used to be a regular. It’s a place that’s loved by music fans and musicians alike. So, upon returning, I want to nail down the reason why.
The bar is located a short walk from Camden Town tube station in the direction of the Zoo. It’s guarded by a towering security guard (although I’ve never seen a purpose for them other than to stop you drinking outside). They seem to have a strict ID policy but I’m always happy to hand over my ID, forever hoping that I still look 18. As always, on a week night, The Dublin Castle is full of people at the bar. The front area is swarmed with leather jackets so I squelch my way forward.
The bar serves up your typical kind of drinks; Strongbow, Guiness and other usuals. But there are a few exceptional alternatives like Old Rosie, and all around the £4-£5 mark for a pint. The bartender serves me in a very daring white branded Dublin Castle tee – no doubt a different colour by the end of the night.
I manage to find a seat, which is very rare, but I’m wedged next to some very Essex-like men who seem very keen on taking me somewhere more appropriate for a Saturday night “on the lash”. I don’t care to ask where that may be but I hope that the fact I am lit by a red light isn’t confusing their testosterone-infused brains.
To the back of the room, some double doors lead on to the live music venue section. A smallish black room that could probably fit around 100-200 people. The sound isn’t the best but it’s a big honour for many bands to be able to play at this venue due to it’s history in music. This is a room where bands are discovered -apparently, even Muse was discovered here.
But, unless there’s something good that you can hear through the double doors on your way to the toilet, the bar area is much more welcoming. I do love the luxury of flicking through the jukebox which is full of classic rock albums and a few Indie bands such as Artic Monkeys. Though as the clock strikes midnight, the unforgettable announcement “This is a residential area, please leave quietly, thank you.” plays on loop.
It’s open fairly late and that’s a great appeal to the Camden area – most bars shut at 11pm. But after several pints and a few shots, I could see that after the tourists and lost Essex boys had gone, what is left behind is a community of music fans and Camden locals. And that, combined with its music history, is what keeps bringing people back.