You could argue that any café in the year 2018 would be considered an “internet café”, as long as you are provided a wifi-code and a laptop-friendly table. You could also argue that the phenomenon from the 1990s might be a little out-dated. Still, there are businesses in Dublin who chooses to brand themselves as Internet Cafes. I decided to visit two of them to see who else did.
Café or shop?
Walking past an internet cafe in 2018 is a little like a blast from the past, but if you look a little closer – something has changed. Most of them provide much more than just the internet. The Internet Cafe on Parnell Street is a good example and they advertise their broad selection, aside from an internet connection, quite clearly from the outside: there is definitely more.
On the inside however, the good old stationary computers can still be found in the back and a friendly employee leaning on the counter in the front. He explains that this shop/internet cafe is actually quite new, it opened only a few years ago. “All kinds of people come here, mostly they use the printer or watch YouTube and some spend maybe an hour in front of the computer” he says. I point out the phone covers and the many other tec-accessories they sell. He explains “you can’t only have internet anymore, it’s very quiet” and looks over to the vacant computers. It is very quiet, but as I leave someone else walks in. Maybe not quiet for too long.
At another Internet Cafe on Parnell Street, not far away from the other one, Hai Long Qu explains that this one has also just recently opened three or four years ago. The market might still be open for these old school players – and players, or gamers playing money making online games, are exactly who Hai Long Qu’s customers are. “They play games” he says, “usually the same people”. Four young boys with headphones sit silently in front of the computers in the back. Hai Long Qu assembles an iPhone with precision and a tiny screwdriver while he talks. The boys laugh from time to time.
1994 – today
In 1994 Eva Pascoe opened the worlds first Internet Café: Café Cyberia in London. In 2018 and in Dublin, they are still very much around and some have even just opened. There are people who still watch YouTube videos or play video games the 90’s way, and if you yourself need something printed, a new phone case or just fancy some nostalgia – you now know where to go.