ROC chats to Darren McDonnell

In the first of our series of interviews, we asked Darren McDonnell to answer a few questions about style and music. You may know Darren as founder and resident DJ of Pow City Soul Club in Dublin but read on to get to know him a little better…


Darren McDonnell

Describe your style?

A melting pot of mod, skinhead and 80’s casual

What’s your go-to piece in your wardrobe?

‘Big E’ Selvedge Levis, Mikell Rude button down shirt.


How did you get into soul music?

As a child I spent Sundays in my Granny’s house, hearing Motown on the radio – not knowing what it was, but enjoying it’s infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics. When I began buying my own music, it was a natural progression to seek out those sounds. It wasn’t until moving to Brighton at 18 that I got into the Mod Scene and I remember going to 60’s mod nights where they would play R&B, Garage and Northern Soul. I’d never heard of the phrase ‘Northern Soul’ before so once I began scratching the surface I became hooked. I moved back to Dublin at 21 and found the Soul Scene here was alive and well – the rest is history.

How often do you play abroad & what are your favorite clubs and why?

I usually DJ abroad a few times a year but when I’m not DJing I still try to travel to various clubs in the UK as much as possible. My favourite club night would have to be Different Strokes in Manchester and my favourite all-nighter would be Burnley. Each one carries it’s own unique sound and always remains fresh.

Photo: Geraldine Fahey


When did you start Pow City?

Pow City was started in February 2014 by myself and Paul Grant, and is on the second Saturday of every month in the basement of The Thomas House. When starting out, we wanted to create a soul club which emphasised a party atmosphere while playing a mix of rare and classic soul records geared towards the dance floor. Every month we have 4 guest DJs from Ireland or abroad who bring their own style to the night – which means you’re always hearing new tunes being played out. We’ve always said our club is ‘inclusive rather than exclusive’ and want it to be as enjoyable for the seasoned soulies as it is for any newcomers on the scene. Getting that mix of quality tunes and quality people together is what makes Pow City.


Photo: Geraldine Fahey

Tell us a bit about the Galway Bay Soul Weekender?

The Weekender came about like most good ideas do – talking shite with friends. Myself, Paul Mulholland and Paul Grant had been talking about all the good (and some bad) memories of weekenders we’d attended over the years and how we’ve all flirted with the idea of doing something in Galway. Paul Mulholland, being from Galway, came up with the idea of a boat cruise and the light bulb went off for all of us. Myself and Paul Grant had been on a soul cruise at the Hamburg Soul Weekender before and that experience stuck with us. The atmosphere of being on board a boat, with records spinning and the scenery out the window floating by, is unlike any club night or all-nighter so couple that with the picturesque surroundings of Galway and it’s beginning to sound like a plan! Out of the initial thought of a boat cruise with an after party, grew the Weekender. Things kick off on September 1st in the basement of The Cellar Bar, which is a great introduction to the weekend, and we’ll be playing some gritty soul grooves in there all night long. A Saturday afternoon session in The Blue Note the next day will be a great hang out, somewhere for everyone to catch up, and will include record sales. The soul cruise takes place along Lough Corrib that evening, and then the main event happens on Saturday night in The Seven Bridges’ Loft Venue. Plus, to wind down, we’ve organised a Soul Food BBQ on the Sunday in The Blue Note with DJs spinning tunes from 1pm – a great way to wrap up the weekend. We’ve been amazed at the feedback and support we’ve had from everyone since announcing the event in January, with DJs coming from London, Wales, Canada and all over Ireland to play at the Weekender. The tickets for the boat cruise sold out in the first 4 hours, but there’s still plenty of people making the journey for the rest of the events – we’re hoping this will be the first of many! Tickets are on sale at and the events in The Blue Note are free.


Thanks to Darren for taking some time out and having a chat with us. If you’re in Dublin this weekend, check out Pow City at The Thomas House, Thomas St, Dublin 8, on Saturday 12th August.