For gay girls and friends: HONEYPOT is Dublin's queer nightlife utopia - Features - Mixmag

For gay girls and friends: HONEYPOT is Dublin's queer nightlife utopia

Founded in order to fill a void for gay women in Dublin's nightlife scene, HONEYPOT's playful approach, support for local talent and genuine sense of community has made it one of Ireland's most crucial club nights

  • Words: Niamh O’Connor | Photos: Niamh Barry & Jasmin Grace | Flyers: Emma Murphy
  • 5 April 2024

It’s 20 minutes ‘til doors open to HONEYPOT’s sold-out BAE2BAE party in Tengu, Dublin. On a chilly night in February, we’re inside the red-hued room, where glowing Japanese Buddhas hang high on the exposed brick walls. A bright neon mask of the character Tengu — a mischievous supernatural being from Japanese folklore — overlooks the DJ booth, which is adorned with palm-tree-like plants.

The intimate 300-capacity club feels like an appropriate space for a Valentine’s party, and specifically a HONEYPOT party. The event for “gay girls and friends” fosters a staunch following in the Irish capital and welcomes the wider LGBTQI+ community through its doors, as well as “curious honeybees, allies and everyone in between.”

Founded in 2022 by Emma Murphy, AKA Rhyzine, and Kerry Mahony, aka Baby Tee, HONEYPOT has hosted 11 parties, several of which have sold out with solely local DJs on the bill. With the exception of FAFF and D.Tiffany last year, the girls rarely book international names because they don’t really need to — punters come to HONEYPOT to enjoy the warm, carefree and fun atmosphere that’s now signature of the Dublin-based party, no matter who’s supplying the sounds of house, trance, bass, breaks, techno and anything else that falls under the event’s ravey music policy.

Tonight’s running order is Rhyzine B2B Baby Tee, Puzzy Wrangler and ALI B2B DJ Egg, all of whom are in relationships beyond the booth. As the room fills up before midnight, the feeling that HONEYPOT is an actual community — and not the buzzword used to describe most parties these days — is tangible. Many attendees make a beeline for the DJ booth, bigging up Kerry while she mixes in moody electronica with Emma’s bright, house-led selections. On the dancefloor, there’s plenty of hugging, some kissing, and shrieks of delight as punters recognise each other, moving in groups, twosomes or on their own.

Earlier on in the smoking area, Emma and Kerry recounted their own love story, which began in Killarney, Co.Kerry, where they met at the age of 12. As two “Tumblr teens” with a mutual appreciation for music and art, they started dating at 15 and moved to Dublin in 2016 for college. “We lived separately, but we always had this connection of just loving going out, loving dancing,” recalls Kerry, who’s wearing a red t-shirt with the words THEY THOUGHT I WAS GAY emblazoned on the chest. “It was just a really fun thing that we always could share together.”

Photo: Niamh Barry
Photo: Jasmin Grace | Flyers: Emma Murphy

During their first year in college, Kerry remembers “a little bit of diversity” in the queer parties on offer back then. “But by the time we were in final year, there was nothing — it felt like, for us anyway, as gay women, there was nothing,” she says. “So it was always, honestly, a bit of a joke that we’d say to each other like, ‘We should run a night, and it would be great.’ But we never actually thought anything of it or didn’t think it was a possibility.”

After the pair finished college and spent a summer in Berlin in 2019, they returned to Dublin. Emma, who has a background in drumming, completed a few DJ lessons with Irish artist Pusher. Once the pandemic hit, she spent the majority of lockdowns mixing at home on her controller and uploaded a handful of mixes online.

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In 2022, the programmer of Tengu, Emma Gilliand, aka EMA, booked Emma (Murphy) for her first club show under the alias of Rhyzine, adding her to the line-up of Skin+Blister, a platform for female identifying, trans and non-binary creativesl. Rhyzine has since cropped up on NTS Radio, The Lot, Rinse FM, and DJ’d alongside Sally C and Spray, to name a few. Today, the Killarney native likes to book newcomers for HONEYPOT to “keep the chain going”, as inspired by Gilligan’s approach.

“Everyone’s really good, and everyone just needs a chance,” she says. She’s sporting a black T-shirt that lists a late-night number to call for a SEXUAL FANTASY, accompanied by a woman’s silhouette. “So I’m happy to do that. I love booking someone and then seeing them get booked for a whole string of nights after that because they really deserve it. So the priority is always local or Irish DJs because they’re just as good [as international DJs], to be honest.”

Photos: Niamh Barry

With clubs fully re-opened by spring 2022, Emma and Kerry revisited the idea to launch their own party. A casual comment from their friend Megan Nolan Walsh, aka Mercorn, to “Just do it, it’s not that hard” was enough to get them going. They asked their promoter pals for advice on running events and began to think of names. “And then it started coming together very, very quickly,” says Kerry.

Since its inaugural party at Wigwam in July, 2022, the success of HONEYPOT remains partly down to the brand’s clear identity and visually appealing, memorable aesthetic. “I feel like we have a very distinct tone of voice,” said Emma. “We know our target audience. [The tone is] playful, flirty, not serious. It’s fun, but it’s not like, deep and sexy. It’s all about having fun and being playful; that’s what I describe it as, and I think that comes from our work background and our natural interests.”

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Emma works as an animator and an illustrator, while Kerry is a copywriter, writer, (check out her Substack), and more recently, a music journalist, so the pair pooled their creative skills to form HONEYPOT. Together, they balance the tasks of promoting the party, curating its Sticky Mix series, writing press releases, and running free parties and non-club-based gatherings too. Last year, they collaborated with Slaughterhouse Film Club and hosted a screening of Jennifer’s Body, raising over €1800 for Trans Harm Reduction. During the Women’s World Cup, they organised a free pre-party with 1815FC Football Club in Mono’s Bar in Dalymount Park.

While Emma and Kerry are hands-on with every aspect of HONEYPOT, they hire local female, non-binary, queer and trans artists for specialised jobs, many of whom they count as friends. Such artists include Aisling Redmond, who they commissioned to create HONEYPOT’s logo, videographer Órlaith Mac Eoin Manus, motion graphics artist Anna Lawlor, and photographers Niamh Barry and Jasmin Grace.

“We’d consider every DJ we book as our friends as well,” adds Emma. “I think that’s part of the Dublin scene — everyone knows each other and knows each other’s style.” Even if the girls book an artist they haven’t met before, they still form a solid connection with them over the course of the booking process. “So I think that’s nice as well — we end up being friends with whoever we work with.”

Photos: Jasmin Grace

Eleven parties later, what have they learnt since launching the first night? “I think we’ve very much learned the benefits and value of just having confidence, especially as female promoters who are relatively young, and I think we’re lucky in that there haven't been too many negative experiences,” replies Kerry. “But there’s definitely been a few [experiences] where you can just tell that someone—”

“Didn’t take us seriously,” chimes Emma.

“Is not taking you seriously,” agreed Kerry. “And I think it’s been really beneficial to have those experiences and to just know that you can go in there and be like, ‘we’re running a night. We have a huge community. It’s actually a huge night.’”

“Every party is sold out,” adds Emma. “Take us a bit seriously.”

“Yeah, take us seriously,” says Kerry. “I think it’s actually been amazing for our confidence, to develop that and know our worth. Another thing is — and I think this is something we’ve actually done from day one, but I think it’s just something that’s become so important to us — is just [experiencing] the benefit of positive relationships with everyone we work with. And I think we’ve very much had that from the start.”

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By the time Puzzy Wrangler takes over, Tengu is heaving, but not uncomfortably so. There’s no pushing, shoving, or being pressed against someone’s back, as is usually the case at sold-out parties. It’s a mindful crowd, and if someone accidentally steps on your toes, you’ll get a “sorry!” straight away.

The couple expertly blend several genres, from swampy bass to '90s trance, with Tony De Vit’s remix of The Handbaggers ‘U Found Out’ provoking a hyper, almost-frenetic energy among the crowd. Piles of coats litter the edge of the dancefloor — a universal symbol of trust at a party — even though there is a fully functioning cloakroom upstairs.

“I think the amazing thing about HONEYPOT is that people come because it’s HONEYPOT,” says Kerry. “They come for the crowd, the vibe, and the energy. Not that the line-up is secondary. But I think people will come because it’s a HONEYPOT night, so it can be a line-up full of locals, and it could still sell out just as easily as an international [DJs].”

Photos: Jasmin Grace

Approaching 2:AM, ALI and DJ Egg open on the dreamy ‘Lemon Citrus’ by Thurlow Joyce x Regularfantasy, instilling a wavey, loose vibe to mark the last hour of the party, the crowd firmly remaining on the dancefloor.

But HONEYPOT is not all about going out out. The girls emphasise how important it is to nurture the community off the dancefloor. Across the month of April, they’ll collaborate with the collective Foxgluv, which offers a space for “all underrepresented creatives to come together and showcase their work.” The collective’s founder, Jowy Ahia, aka JWY, will work alongside Emma and run free DJ lessons for female, trans and non-binary people every Saturday. “Because DJing is still very much a boys club,” says Emma. “I still see all-males line-ups in Dublin and other cities.”

In March, HONEYPOT hosted another free party at the Pawn Shop to celebrate International Women’s Day, and next up, their biggest event of the year will take place in June – Pride. They’ll do a full venue takeover at Wigwam. But again, it’s not all about partying.

“Because it's just fun to bring HONEYPOT outside of the club space,” says Kerry.

“I mean, like, we’re doing it for fun,” agrees Emma. “If it’s not fun, we wouldn’t do it. Yeah, it’s not for the money. It’s just for fun.”


Niamh O'Connor is a freelance music journalist, follow her on Instagram

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