With the news that Omagh is to get a new non-licensed teenage nightclub in the coming months we wondered whether Belfast teens could benefit from a similar venture.
In terms of going out after dark in Belfast teenagers have limited choice. Apart from one-off under age events where venues go ‘dry’ for the duration we’re not aware of any regular teenage discos.
The Venue used to be a prime destination on Friday nights for under 18s while more recently The Factory tried to bridge that gap and provide a safe venue for teens but it was ultimately doomed.
We’d be naive to think that some teens don’t turn to alcohol before they’re supposed to, but rather than have them drinking in parks and alleyways could a dedicated underage disco give them an alternative outlet at weekends?
Late last year a ruling that stated you couldn’t run a teenage disco in licensed premises meant that Sense club for 13-17 year olds in the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown had to be closed.
That’s why the new alcohol-free teenage nightclub in Omagh will be located at the site of the former McElroy’s Bar on Castle Street and only be used for underage clubbing.
Architect, Ashley Peace, who is the brains behind the project, told the Ulster Herald he wanted to create a venue that will allow teenagers to socialise and have fun in their own area.
“Since we revealed our plans on social media we have had an excellent response from young people and also parents who seem to be pleased that teenagers won’t have to get on a bus and travel further afield to enjoy a night out,” he said.
Mr Peace said the club will be a “safe place” for young people as it will strictly be a soft drinks bar and all staff will be thoroughly vetted.
He added: “This will hopefully take the worry away from parents.”
The nightclub, which will cater for teenagers aged 11-17, is due to be opened by the end of April or early May.
Friday night will be for 11-13 year olds, while Saturday night will host 14-17 year olds.
So what do you think? Do we need something similar in Belfast, and more importantly would it get the support of certain councillors who have fought against such plans in the past?
The main sticking point was what happens when the disco ends and the teenagers leave the venue to mix with the rest of the revellers in Belfast city centre.