Dancing returned to Ireland on Friday night as people stepped onto dancefloors for the first time in nearly 600 days.
The Government's announcement this week that nightclubs could reopen has been followed by a frenzy of excitement, as venues finalised plans and made last-minute preparations for the return of revellers.
Yet recent days have also been dominated by confusion over the regulations facing clubs, as well as questions over the logic of reopening as Covid-19 cases rises.
Long queues were seen outside some popular nightclubs, including Dublin's Copper Face Jacks.
Queue for Coppers in Dublin at 9pm as nightclubs reopen after months of lockdown pic.twitter.com/f1GO5x5KUE— Enda O'Dowd (@endajodowd) October 22, 2021
Taoiseach Micheál Martin had promised earlier this week: “What traditionally happens in a nightclub will continue to happen in the nightclub.”
Some of the first people through the door of the Tramline nightclub in Dublin city centre were certainly taking him at his word.
Alvin Pascal, from Beaumont in Dublin, was a regular visitor to nightclubs before the pandemic.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s been two years so it’s a bit of a different experience. I was a bit anxious coming out. But it’s fun now, being in there.” He said he had missed socialising with people.
“It’s a bit different than when you’re sitting at home or sitting in pubs,” he said.
Some of those determined to make the most of the new-found freedom thought the rules did not necessarily add up.
Mr Pascal said: “You can dance and not have a mask on. But you have to wear a mask in the toilet. What’s the difference?
“We’ll see how it goes.”
Asked if he planned to go out next weekend, he said: “100%. It’s been two years, I’m obviously going to go out.”
Queues began to form at some venues in Dublin early in the evening.
Coppers right now 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/5n6BByj25j— kevin (@kevlong130) October 22, 2021
Under the guidelines, masks must be worn when not dancing, drinking or eating.
All nightclub events will also be ticketed from next week.
Lakshay Seth, who lives in Dublin, said he was “really excited” to visit a nightclub.
He went out nearly every second weekend before the pandemic.
He said he missed dancing during the long closure of venues.
“Just dancing. I’m a big Abba fan, so just dancing,” he said.
He said he was not nervous and planned to follow the rules.
“I travel on public transport, so if I get Covid I might get it there or I might get it here. But if there’s any guidelines we have to follow, we’re up for it.”
Many venue owners have insisted that despite the quick turnaround time, they are excited and ready to open.
Culture Minister Catherine Martin told reporters on Thursday night that the hospitality industry needs to “show leadership” and ensure that they follow the new rules.
Rising case numbers and growing pressures on the health service has prompted warnings from health officials this week about a long winter ahead.
Ian Redmond, who runs the Tramline nightclub, told PA on Friday night: “I’m so excited.
“To finally get open is just amazing,” he said as he stood outside the venue.
“We have done everything we can. We’ve got the ambulance service checking temperatures. Covid ID requests, passport ID. We’ve done everything.”
He did express some concern that the new guidelines on tickets would make it hard to stage smaller events and attract customers.
“Tourists coming to Ireland won’t be able to walk up to our door and come in,” he said.
But overall, he said it was destined to be a good night.
“It is such great news that we’re back and just so excited to be open.”