So many Dubai clubs tend to come and go within the space of the first 12 months, and a couple more casualties have just recently been announced.
Firstly, the Basement in Boutique 7 Hotel, Tecom, has given up the ghost after less than a year. The venue, which was very committed in its pursuit of being revered as “underground”, fell victim to an apparent inability to attract enough numbers. Proof, as if any were needed, that the money required to keep a nightclub open, can really only be found “overground”.
It’s a shame, but it can’t really come as much of a surprise. Secret Circle – billed as “proper music” – was to me basically tech house, ambient and minimal tech, but probably for a variety of reasons, the appeal was also minimal. There’s an argument to suggest that Dubai isn’t quite ready for a serious dance venue/night, and that nobody really cares about being underground.
Just a glimpse over at what House of Afrikaa (Media One) and Zero Gravity are doing suggests that making things a touch more accessible serves to see you right, but then why sacrifice your principles I suppose? Money and success aren’t everything. Only joking, you’re in Dubai, of course they are! They are everything.
The obvious other aspect missing to this kind of movement ever being able to realistically have enough of an appeal in Dubai, is the lack of easily accessible social accessories to a night of repetitive dance. No need to elaborate on that, but needless to say that in London on any similar night to one you’d have seen at the Basement, there would be a very different vibe.
Secret Circle was also on a Monday night, which for me is a shit night to go out, because it ruins the rest of my working week. If I don’t work well for the rest of the week, I get sacked and then have no money to go out on a Monday and listen to minimal tech while drinking as many vodka red bulls as I can possibly stomach, in a savage attempt at finding some kind of rush for the music to resonate with me in any kind of way. Maybe others felt the same, maybe not, but the venue’s gone now so who cares?
Secret Circle will most probably spring up in a new venue soon, but will need to work harder and broaden its appeal if it is to become a mainstay in Dubai.
A good example of a more established global brand that hasn’t got it worked out yet is Pacha Ibiza Dubai, which hasn’t really taken off at all. Luckily for them, they are a big brand with big financial backing, so they will get more time to work out how to appeal to Dubai’s very difficult/fickle marketplace. I know what I associate Pacha with as a brand, and it’s not cabaret and sit down meals ala The Act, but then what I – and I imagine anyone who has been to Ibiza – associate Pacha with, is something that will never be able to happen in Dubai.
It’s a strange choice of destination for somewhere like Pacha. Blue Marlin obviously does well enough, but that’s a beach bar not a “Super Club”, and any sad sack could start a beach bar in Dubai and have a decent shout at making a go of it in all honesty.
Last month, Societe Jumeirah too called it a day, after about nine months, proving that in many ways, location is everything. Who can be arsed to go all the way to Jumeirah when you have the established Societe already in the Marina? This 80’s, 90’s and 00’s club is always busy, and as much as dancing to Robbie Williams’ “Millenium” on a packed dancefloor surrounded by English people may be slightly too morose for some, it’s always rammed in there.
If you are thinking of starting up a club or a night in the desert, here are some tips from Inside Dubai to help you avoid the embarrassment of shutting up shop within the first 12 months:
Do Your Market Research
Are people actually interested in what you are hoping to do or the music you’re going to play? Just because you and your pals like it, doesn’t mean everyone else will. For example, I’d like to start a night playing only early to mid-nineties Manchester-based music but I know that it would just be me and two geezers who got lost on their way to Societe Jumeriah in there.
Location is Everything
Who mainly goes out “clubbing”? Young people. Where do most young people live? Marina. Where are all the clubs and bars that never, ever shut down due to lack of interest? Marina. Where do clubs struggle to get people to go? Tecom, Jumeirah, Meydan…blah blah you get the picture.
Make sure your policy is balanced. Yeah you probably will j’adore the idea of having tables with those big bottles of vodka that have lights inside them, but don’t cater only for those people. Your bread and butter will be the people who come back each week because they’ve had a good time. If you have a nightclub where dancing causes some kind of security alert (Cavalli) or you only let women in and no men (every club), or you charge men and let women in for free (every club), well all of that is just madness to me.
It’s All About Having A Good Time
Don’t forget, you want people having fun. People often have fun when they can dance, they feel like they aren’t being seen off by the bar prices, they can smile and laugh, and also when they can talk to other humans. So make the music accessible and danceable, stop being so serious – this ain’t Ibiza, and also make sure there are areas to go where the music doesn’t pierce the ear drum so that people can exchange fake numbers in peace.