The last ten years have seen Dubai firmly plant itself on the worldwide clubbing map. Now a key destination in most DJs touring schedule, its plentiful venues, bustling economy, vast beaches and good weather have attracted the likes of mega-festival Sensation [pictured, top] to its shores. With many homegrown festivals also populating the calendar, locals are spoilt for choice – and the scene’s expansion shows no signs of slowing.
How is clubbing in Dubai right now?
The scene here seems to be on turbocharge this year, with amazing acts and brands from the worldwide scene and stellar up-and-coming acts week in, week out. We have great global names such as Blue Marlin, Pacha and Eden Beach Club alongside excellent local homegrown promotions of all sizes, all in sublime settings and with top talent week in, week out .
For example, just looking at the listings for this weekend alone we have: Dubfire, Booka Shade, Alexkid, David August, Black Coffee, wAFF, Robert James, Davide Squillace, Philip George, Krafty Kuts, Franky Rizardo, DJ Randall, Mambo Brothers, Lucas, A-Skillz, Pirupa and Nick Hussey. This is all pretty much on one stretch of beach front.
There are a huge amount of clued-up, music-loving clubbers here, and it’s only getting better.
How did you first get involved with the club scene over there?
I am from Bristol originally. I have been promoting events and DJing since I was 16, so it was a natural thing to start up here in Dubai. I started with a few DJ residencies at various events and venues, and once I had a good grasp on the scene here and what works, I put together the concept for my event: Superheroes.
The scene here is competitive, but also really welcoming to new brands and concepts, as all the clued-up promoters know that the more good brands and events have, the more appealing Dubai will be on the global scene.
How have things changed since then?
As I mentioned earlier, the past 12-18 months have seen a great increase of quality events across the spectrum. We have superb dance events, but also festivals and band events every weekend.
Who have been the real pioneers in the club scene over there?
I am sure different people will have different thoughts on this, but for me personally there are some events and event organizers and individuals that have been around for a long time, pushing the scene and getting it recognition on the worldwide circuit.
We have events like Globalfunk, who I think are the longest standing event here, pushing the drum & bass scene. There’s Audio Tonic – a weekly house music event and radio show – and Charl Chaka of Infusion Magazine providing much needed media coverage for the scene internally.
What do the laws there prohibit or make difficult?
There are plenty of laws here for events promoters, but nothing much different from the UK or anywhere else in the world: things like ensuring that all performers are licensed for each event, advertising requirements and guidelines, sound restrictions in residential zones, licensing requirements – these type of things.
We have a little more red tape for the promoters, but this actually ensures that the events are well organised for the partygoers and weeds out the shonky, poorly planned and executed shows.
What does Dubai offer that other clubbing destinations don’t? Where do you think it leads the way or does things differently?
Dubai is its own entity really. There are some things we really excel at. We have world class venues, stellar production, hospitality second to none and one of the main selling points as a party destination is of course the SUNSHINE! Everybody loves to brock out on the beach, under the sun with a cold beer to their fave band or DJ. These things make it enticing for clubbers and also international acts.
Which are the best venues right now?
This is purely subjective, but for me I think for beach parties its certainly Eden Beach or Blue Marlin. For indoor clubbing I love Level 41. This is a stripped back warehouse style venue on the 41st Floor of the Media One Hotel, overlooking The Palm. Amazing.
Which DJs tend to be the most popular out there?
As you can see from the acts we have this weekend alone, we have a broad selection, across loads of genres. But by and large, house music rules for the masses in Dubai.
Does homegrown talent get much love?
Definitely, we have a vast wealth of homegrown talent here. Be it DJs or event promoters. There are some amazing events here week in, week out who push their local DJs and acts as their USP. As the majority of the people within the scene here are expats, we have local acts and residents from all over the globe – lots of which have held great residencies in some the world’s best venues and clubs.
How do you go about promoting your events in Dubai? What are the key websites or means of communication / marketing?
It’s no different from the rest of the world really: social media is key and a must-do to build visibility and a strong core fanbase. We have local nightlife websites and magazines such as Infusion, Hype and Platinum List. These guys provide invaluable support and coverage week in, week out with interviews, previews and content on the scene both here and worldwide – keeping everyone connected. We also have access to international brands such as Time Out and Resident Advisor.
The most successful brands have spent time and effort to cultivate a loyal fanbase over time. It’s also about ensuring that your resident DJs are popular so people come to see them, so as not having to rely on big international acts.
What would you like to see change over there in terms of the club scene?
I think we are certainly on the right track. Hopefully this new growth we have here will entice more fun party people to come and live here and enjoy it!