News & Events

Black Moon Newcastle

Posted on 17th December 2018

New club night in Newcastle for adults with Autism & Learning Disabilities

Article reproduced thanks to Laura Barr and the Mourne Observer:

MOVE over Calvin Harris – there’s a new DJ on the clubbing scene and thanks to him Newcastle will now have its very own club night for adults with learning disabilities, with the first event being held tonight.

The monthly event will take place in Diamond Pats and is an inclusive disco offering an opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to socialise, have fun and party in a safe and positive environment.

There will also be an opportunity for the adults to take to the decks and play their own music in the future as it is hoped DJ training will be provided in the coming months.

The initiative is all thanks to Barry Smyth, along with his sister Susan Smyth.

They decided to set up Black Moon Newcastle after attending the Black Moon in the Black Box in Belfast as well as Black Moon events in Armagh and Bangor.

Originally from Drumaroad, Barry now lives in Autism Initiative’s supported housing in Newcastle.

Barry told the Mourne Observer about his reasons for wanting to set up the Black Moon in Newcastle and his love for music.

I want to have a good social life and I want to get out of the house more. I want a disco that everyone can go to and have fun. I started doing discos years ago in my mummy’s house and then for the rest of the family. A while ago I went to the Black Box in Belfast and did some DJ training, I loved it. There is a lot to learn and I am still training. I bring my DJ equipment to family parties, so people can have a dance and I just love music. I am really excited about this Black Moon in Newcastle. I can practice my DJing and don’t have to travel to Belfast anymore. It is going to be so great. 

Barry said he enjoys a wide variety of music, but his favourites include ABBA, Katy Perry, Boyzone and Christmas music.

Barry’s sister Susan explained that after seeing the DJ course advertised in the Black Box, she took Barry down and he instantly loved it.

After that we attended a few of the Black Moons but they are all such a long way to travel and with so many people in our community with learning disabilities we thought we should try and set one up here in Newcastle. We wanted to make it a safe place for people with learning disabilities, so they can have an actual night out just like everyone else.

Susan contacted the Black Moon organisers at the Black Box who were happy for her to set up an event in Newcastle. She then got in touch with Autism Initiatives about the idea and received assistance from Area Manager Alison Lyttle.

The support we have received has just been fantastic, added Susan. I wanted to do this for my brother because it means so much to him to have a social life just like anyone else. The organisers at the Black Box as well as Alison from Autism Initiatives have all been so supportive. Alison was fantastic and so enthusiastic with the whole thing. She has really helped get things off the ground and directed us to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council who we have received funding from for the event. In terms of location, we had looked at a few venues, but we wanted a place where people can enjoy the night and have a pint if they wish. Diamond Pats have been so good from the outset and are letting us use the space free of charge. They are also putting their staff through autism awareness training which is just incredible. We have a DJ coming for the first night as Barry is still in training, but he will of course be supporting at this. He is just thrilled that it is happening, we have got t-shirts made with Black Moon Newcastle printed on them and are inviting anyone who is attending to wear Christmas-themed clothes.
Dj Barry Smyth

Susan continued that she was surprised that Newcastle hasn’t had anything quite like this in so long especially as it creates such a positive impact on the people who attend.

Newcastle is an autism friendly town and it is surprising that there hasn’t been anything local for people with learning disabilities. There used to be an afternoon tea dance held but it hasn’t been running for a long time. The positive impact events such as this one has on people with learning disabilities is incredible. Barry’s opportunities to socialise are very much only with his family so this will really give him a chance to go out and meet new people. It is important for their mental health and well-being too and creates positive self-esteem.

Alison Lyttle, Area Manager from Autism Initiatives, said:

We are delighted to organise an event in collaboration with Black Box and their all-inclusive club night for people with autism. It is a fantastic opportunity to work alongside Black Box in delivering a club night that so many of the people we support have said they would enjoy. The event also creates a venue for the whole community to come together and enjoy music and dancing that is fully inclusive. We have had overwhelming positive feedback for the event and hope that everyone joins us in Diamond Pats for a great night out.

Eamonn Slevin, National Director for Autism Initiatives Northern Ireland, commented:

Autism Initiatives are very proud of the supported living and day opportunities services we provide in Newcastle. Autism Initiatives are grateful for the funding support from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for the first club night and hope we can build on its success to promote and provide similar events in the near future.