September 27, 2023
The Dirty Circus at the Roisin Dubh Galway

Life Is a Cabaret

It’s risqué.  It’s out there.  Say what you will, Galway’s Dirty Circus will take you out of your comfort zone.  From the physical demands of pole dancing to the seduction of burlesque, this cabaret show is designed to entice and enthrall. Whether it’s the tantalising lift of a glove, or the erotic sway of hips, be prepared to be drawn into this celebration of human design.

In essence, you will discover the hypnotic rhythm of a belly dance, or the vocal brilliance of Barbara Vixen.  Ultimately, these artists dedicate years to their craft to bring their form of expression to the stage. Set against the backdrop of the Róisin Dubh in Galway’s Westend, every Dirty Circus spectacle is different.


Mystery and Magic

Even after 12 years, event organiser Tommy Walsh can still be surprised by the weekly line-up. This spontaneity only adds to the mystique of the Dirty Circus.  In fact, Tommy is open to all creatives willing to bring their professional skills to Galway. What is more, he is regularly approached by international artists travelling through Europe.

From the delectable to the daft, desirable to downright dirty, enter the world of the show master and this merry band of entertainers.

Tommy Walsh


The Greatest Show

Not one to shy away from his role as “part time promoter and full time human,” Tommy’s passion for the Dirty Circus is palpable. He is unashamed in his admiration for how the theatrical show has evolved over the years.

“It’s the absolute best night out ever,” he says with glee. “If you are in to the best night out ever, then that’s what you will get! That’s why you should go to it.”

Above all, diversity “of all kinds” is at its heart. And that fundamental element of surprise.

“We have pole dancers, drag queens, singers, musicians, comedians, burlesquers, fire performers, jugglers,” he explains. “You name it.  It can all potentially happen on stage. Once you go in there, you forget about everything else in the world”.

An Escape from Reality

It is this escapism that is the driving force for Tommy and the Dirty Circus team.

“I wanted to create a little place for two hours where it is almost impossible to think of anything else,” he explains. “This is my goal.  At the end of the day, people have loads of worries in the world.  Here, when you are watching the show, you have pure entertainment in front of you on a conveyer belt.”

Within a few minutes of speaking to him, Tommy’s enthusiasm is catching. I find myself wanting to become part of this crazy adventure.  In his company, the thrill of showcasing an exotic art in front of a live audience becomes strangely appealing.

My mind is wandering, searching for what I could bring to the stage. As a result, I have to row back on committing myself to a three-minute showcase of my long-neglected swing dancing abilities. And yet, as I type, I’m already soaking up the applause at some imaginary success in the future.

Behind the Scene

Both Tommy and I have performed in the past – way back in the day.  Consequently, we know what it takes to bring a performance to life. The hard work behind the scenes. The days, nights and weekends spent practicing and rehearsing to see a fun concept come to life.  For Tommy, it was a personal endevour; a performance to raise funds for charity, after he watched the devastation unleashed by cancer.

Tommy Walsh organiser of the Dirty Circus in Galway

“Many years ago, I did the full monty,” says Tommy, “and it was the greatest achievement of my life. I was best man at my friend’s wedding and, sadly, his wife had cancer.  When she passed away, myself and the lads wanted to do something to honour her memory. So, we decided to get together and perform the full monty in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Firstly, we all trained in the gym. Secondly, we all went on diets! And we were covered in fake tan.  Now that was the most intimate experience I’ve ever had in my entire life.

“We raised over eleven thousand for charity on the night and it was an incredible achievement. It was outstanding, but I haven’t been back to the gym since.  And that was eight years ago. But I finally understood the buzz of performance.”

To the audience, it is minutes of a live act. To the performer, it is years in the making.  In line with this, the very fact that Galway’s Dirty Circus attracts entertainers from around the world is testament to the professionalism brought to every event. And it is confirmation of the power of its reputation.

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. But the sell-out crowd and loyal following highlights what was once considered way out is now well and truly in vogue.  For listings, follow the link to the Róisin Dubh or keep an eye on our website too!

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