THE DUBLIN STORY SLAM
The Dublin Story Slam is a monthly open mic storytelling night with a twist, where attendees gather to swap tales from their lives inspired by a different theme each and every time. This month’s topic was ‘Truth’ and the air of excitement was nothing short of palpable from the queue waiting to get into the sold out show. The Sugar Club throws its doors open at 7pm, an hour before the show kicks off. “To build up a bit of pressure before the readers have to get up there” producer Julien Clancy jokes “leaving enough time to grab a pint first of course”. There is a sense of giddy expectation as groups of friends settle down into the booths, adding to the jovial atmosphere bubbling up on this sunny June evening.
The Story Slam began life as The Moth Story Slam back in 2014, and over the years has developed into a semi-permanent space within the city. Hosted by the immediately amicable and ever-entertaining Colm O'Regan, who keeps the audience in stitches while the open mic reader slots fill up. There is an added element of competition which is not to be forgotten, as a winner will be selected from all the storytellers that perform, who will go on to compete at the Grand Slam Championship at the end of year. However, this night is a particularly special edition as the pair announce the launch of their new monthly podcast, which features some of the best stories they’ve heard over the years with added commentary.
When the lights go down all the focus is drawn to the warm light of the stage, then to the speaker who is ‘lucky’ enough to be up first. From the very beginning the team from Dublin Story Slam have been open about their goal of bringing together their large and diverse audiences together through shared experiences. Certainly they succeeded on this occasion, as throughout the varied selection of speakers on show, the audience’s attention was punctuated only by their reactions, laughter and surprise. The evening hurtled on with stories of mental health struggles, creative passions, wild nights out, the unusual perks of being Irish and the redemptive power of love. The crowd gathered are enthralled, devastated and inspired in turn, as the stories gain new life on the stage. In those moments shared between the storyteller and audience, it sincerely feels as if the rest of the world is on hold outside.
Drawing inspiration from one of the oldest cultural traditions in Ireland, The Dublin Story Slam shines a light on the gravitational power of storytelling, taking the everyday and casting in an extraordinary spotlight. The event serves as a reminder of the surprising magic of getting to know someone, of unconscious connection through relatability and shared moments, something which is far too often taken for granted in this increasingly post-truth society.
Written by Jess McKinney