Why Derry needs to keep The Venue 2013

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Who would have thought it? A little gig on the banks of the Foyle could have eclipsed the performance of Beyonce at the 02 in Dublin earlier this year.

But that was the controversial opinion I offered as I walked out of The Venue on Sunday night - after dancing the night away to the sounds of disco kings and queens Chic, ably supported by the amazing Nile Rodgers.

The night took me completely by surprise - in fact a few hours before I was contemplating giving up my ticket for a night on the sofa instead.

Thankfully my husband and friends persuaded me to slip on my dancing shoes anyway and off we went - for a night we won’t forget in a hurry.

What made it so good? Well apart from the fact we could walk across into town for something to eat first - drinking in the party atmosphere in the city centre was a bonus. No four hour drive to Dublin, getting lost along the way and panicking about enough euro change for the toll booth.

Then it was a lovely stroll over the Peace Bridge to the concert venue - our Venue. One which has already in seven short months become such an integral part of the feel good regeneration of the city.

The atmosphere was electric - it’s not often we say that and actually mean it. But as my friend and I stood outside and watched people arrive, dressed in their disco best, grinning from ear to ear we already had a feeling that it was turning into a great night.

And when the music started - when thousands danced and sang as if no-one was watching and no-one was listening - something shifted in me.

There is something uniquely wonderful about attending such an event in your home city. Perhaps it is because for so long Derry didn’t have anything like that on our doorstep. And this year we have been spoiled with it - ruined with great events which have brought us together and created an atmosphere of positivity. Derry whingers be gone - there’s a new breed on the way.

But what of next year? Is it fair (to paraphrase the late, great Maeve Binchy) to take us to the top of the mountain, show us all that we could have, then take it away from us?

Simply put, The Venue 2013 must stay. The good times (as Chic would say) must continue. Funding must be found - a sponsor, a kind hearted person, someone who sees the potential for The Venue and the city as a whole.