IMG_5518.JPG, originally uploaded by 1541.

This post will probbaly mean little to one’s international readers, but tonight, one of Dublin’s nicer bars is closing.

I’m not sure when GUBU opened, but it’s been around several years. Little brother to the Front Lounge*, GUBU was more out-and-proud from the outset. While the FL doggedly maintains that it’s bisexual but ‘gay-friendly’, GUBU’s slogan was ‘Straight-friendly’.

It was the first of the bars & venues to begin the regeneration of dingy old Capel Street as the northern wing of Dublin’s pink triangle, and for years it managed to be just stylish enough to keep the fickle moneyed Dublin moxes happy, but unpretentious enough to allow the cuddlier gays and friends to feel at home.

I always preferred it to the Front Lounge, particularly when the FL became a bloody loud and crowded mass with {sigh} horrid plasma TVs (as in televisions, our TV friends were in GUBU or can now be found in The Dragon). Me boys in GUBU at Pride 06

Even the dodgy beds that they had installed had their wonky, if quite divisive, charms.

Occasions such as Pride were always much more fun in GUBU with it’s lovely long mirrored bar reflecting the large windows. On those occasions, the DJ was filling the floor, balloons abounded and the girl behind the bar who used to be a bit grumpy when she worked in the FL was all smiles in GUBU. Ah, happy days!

Incidentally, I’ll let wikipedia explain what the acronym ‘GUBU’ means:

GUBU is an acronym standing for Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented.

The phrase was paraphrased from a comment by former Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, Charles Haughey while describing a strange series of incidents in the summer of 1982 that led to a double-murderer being apprehended in the house of the Republic’s Attorney General. The corresponding acronym was then coined by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
“ It was a bizarre happening, an unprecedented situation, a grotesque situation, an almost unbelievable mischance. ”

—Charles Haughey, press conference, 1982[1]

The acronym and phrase are still occasionally used in Irish political discourse to describe notorious scandals.

Me a bit worse for wear in GUBUSo there you have it. The bar will now be converted into a branch of Café Bar Deli, a fairly uninteresting if moderately priced place to eat, and the world will continue to turn.

I shall be there tonight to pay my respects, get a bit messy and lament the passing of a Groovy Unpretentious Blissed out Undervalued spot.


* Shockingly horrid website alert.



  1. alan

    I should really start paying visits to these places.. otherwise they end up closing down before I’ve ever been in them.


  2. gib

    Ahem. GUBU was never out and proud from the outset. The place started out life as a jazz club with no apparent mind for any particular clientelle. It was (un)fortunate that in those days GUBU was literally next door to a kinky sauna. The sauna brought in men, and with that, men also staked out the sauna to see if any talent was passing by. And where do you think all this talent spotting was happening? GUBU. It became Pink in a matter of months after opening.

    Lest you all think I was was either “talent” or a “spotter” based on my knowlege of GUBU, let me assure you that I was young and innocent.Going to a durrty durrty place did not cross one’s mind. Innocent. Angelic.

  3. eguinan

    Manuel. None more needs to be said (did ya ever serve him? I bet he was an extravagant tipper).
    Hafiz: I stand corrected. And am quite impressed by your ‘intimate’ knowledge of Dublin’s homo history. I seem to recall that sauna being converted into agraphic design agency or somesuch. Apparently the new owners had great fun at a party to celebrate their new premises. Before the refurb.

  4. seanachie

    Gubu opened in mid-1999 and ‘converted’ about eighteen months later; I was working for the company at the time and most of the staff over the years have been friends of mine. I agree that it was a lovely bar but it never made any money, either as a straight or gay joint – in fact it made heavy losses and Bourke and Foyle had been trying unsuccesfully to offload for some time. In the end, doing a foolproof Café Bar Deli on it was the most sensible thing to do.

    The Front Lounge introduced the plasma screens shortly after Bourke and Foyle sold it three years ago. I haven’t been inside the door since and few of my gay friends have been either.

  5. eguinan

    Hi, seanachie, nice to hear the perspective of someone who used to work there.

    Isn’t it odd that it never made money? It’s not a bad location; it didn’t require a lot of staff and it’s a bar – in Dublin (!). I could understand why Yello didn’t work as it was quite far from the action and the clientele became a little less shiny, but GUBU kept up its standards.

    I’ve been to the FL a few times since the sale. It used to be my local when I was seeing a guy who lived around the corner, and we really saw it as a place to chill out and waste away an afternoon watching the beautiful people. {sigh}

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