Text: Juule Kay
The world is changing, and with it, a new generation of trailblazers is taking over. In our monthly series E-MERGING, we introduce the people adding to the cultural moment with their creative minds, new ideas and unique approaches. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes, a way to dig deeper and look beyond the picture-perfect outcome we’re swamped with every day.
Imagine a club, not just any club. One that only exists at a certain place at a certain time. For a few weeks or just a night before it changes shape and city again. “It’s a totally different sense of presence if you’re at a rave that only happens once rather than going to the same club every weekend for the rest of your life,” says Temporary Pleasure founder John Leo Gillen who grew up in the smoky club since his family owns a nightclub in Ireland. “For me, the whole essence of clubbing and club culture is to feel the moment.” As a matter of fact, temporary spaces change the collective sense of what we’re experiencing: a night out for the books, not just to fill some pages.
Born back in 2017, Temporary Pleasure is both an ephemeral club space with no fixed location and time, and a collective scattered all over Europe hosting DIY club building workshops. Next to Gillen who defines the overall direction and vision, the core team consists of project manager Irini Vazanellis, lead architect Stan Vrebos, and multidisciplinary artist Jennifer Mehigan. “We like to do things in a really collaborative way, being kind with each other and linked by common interest,” says Vazanellis about their way of doing things. “Collectivity and the sense of friendship is important.”
The whole essence of clubbing and club culture is to feel the moment.
In fact, working together from different cities requires a strong bond, and an even stronger communication. “I guess we’re part of the Zoom revolution,” jokes Gillen about the pre-production, which usually takes place virtually. “When we go into actual production, it’s all of us meeting in the same city, having an intense one or two weeks bringing to life what we developed on the screen.” Every fruitful idea is turned into a visual storyboard that ranges from club references, photos, drawings, and bits and pieces from projects everyone admires. “It’s a tool of going through every step and thinking how are we getting there? What’s our objective? What materials, skills and time do we need? What could go wrong?,” explains Vazanellis. “Ultimately, it’s also about anticipating problems.”
One of the most common one’s is working against the clock. To design, build and activate a whole club space within a week with no break in between. “Next to that comes material,” says Vrebos, the lead architect. “Decisions are made within a week, so it becomes a question of how to source the material and divide the time to build it.” It’s all about getting innovative, but also creative and resourceful with what’s available in order to design club spaces that make sense instead of wasting energy on utopian ideas. “We invite people to work the way that we work, which is very visual,” explains Vazanellis further. “It’s the best way to get a group of multidisciplinary people on the same page about something.”
Temporary Pleasure is all about community, supporting local scenes with club spaces. “We always design the workshop and the club we’re building to be a platform for those local participants and voices to host the nights and artists they want to,” Gillen explains. “We never have international DJs, it’s no famous promoter tactics, but a literal tool for people to build a local club.”
Activating spaces temporarily makes it easier to tap into a grey zone of jurisdiction. “It basically makes sense for us to not be involved in the real estate city development,” says Vebros. “We don’t want to leave it up to others to decide how clubs should operate.” With more and more nightclubs closing all around the world, the temporary model makes sweat-soaked raves happen even amidst legal restrictions. “All temporary and meanwhile used architecture is a way to add and extract value from unutilised buildings temporarily,” Gillen boils down. “In the history of clubs, the most interesting and progressive ones have always been the more experimental and temporary DIY spaces on the margins, which are not so purpose built and righteous in their vision.”
In fact, working together from different cities requires a strong bond, and an even stronger communication.
What gives you temporary pleasure besides the club?
TP: Shooting stars, bubbles, rainbows, hourglasses, ice sculptures and poppers.
When it comes to designing a club experience, what’s the most underrated, what’s the most overrated thing?
TP: The most overrated thing is the DJ. It’s obviously really important, but it’s not the one and only component to what makes up a night. Underrated, having personal space to dance and light design!
Best track to build a scaffolding from scratch?
TP: SoundCloud pop edits.
Where would you want to act out on one of your wildest club fantasies?
TP: Well, our wildest club fantasy is this project we’ve been developing in Dublin for two years. Ireland has this huge club and nightlife crisis because we have the most restrictive licensing in Europe. 90% of the nightclubs closed in the last 10 years, and we’ve been trying to create this temporary nightclub in Dublin for over 2 years now. It’s so challenging, practically but also emotionally, to keep our enthusiasm when there’s so little support from the government, the authorities, and the people who make the laws.
If you slip a love note to your favourite club, what would it say?
TP: No sleep, bus, club, another club, another club, plane, next place.