Dubai's best classes
Don’t let summer make you stupid – why not follow Time Out’s example and use your time indoors to learn a new skill? Discuss this article
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We try Stand-up comedy
Daisy Carrington, Food editor
I’ve often fantasised about performing a stand-up routine. I have a rubbery face and I seem to make people laugh (with me, at me… is there really a difference?). So I figured I’d drop into Dubai’s only comedy class, run by stand-up veteran Mina Liccione. She offers three nine-week sessions each year: stand-up, improv and sketch comedy. Each culminates in a free-to-the-public performance at Ductac at Mall of the Emirates.
‘I spend the first four weeks of every course working on improv skill, because you can’t do stand-up without being able to improvise,’ explains Liccione. We start our session with the kind of games you might see on TV improv show Whose Line Is it Anyway? – in one, we take turns using props and pretending they’re something else. As it happens, the mask I’m wearing to protect my identity is a brilliant tool. A towel turns into Jay Leno’s nose wipe, his bib and even his veil. It’s freeing and fun.
In later lessons, once students have mastered improv, Mina teaches them to observe things about their lives and write them into a stand-up routine. I think I might have to sign up.
Dhs1,100 for a nine-week course, including nine group classes, one private coaching session, ‘Stand-up Writing: Proof Reading and Editing’, rehearsals and final show. Private coaching also available. (050 927 3621)
We try DJing
Nyree Barrett, Art editor
DJing is one of those things most people think they could easily pull off. Many a time I’ve looked at the person on the decks fiddling with his headphones and slotting a CD into his new-age turntables and thought, ‘I could totally do that – and how cool I’d look.’
Alas, one hour with DJ Mo Tiger (roar!) teaches me a) how hard it is to make all the noises – my scratches sound like sick puppies barking; and b) how hard it is to look cool – try holding headphones, watching a computer screen, scratching a record and controlling volume levels and tempos at the same time.
The lesson involves learning all about the equipment: traditional turntables with records; CD turntables with scratching abilities (so they don’t just pop a CD in, then); and the computer and digital software now more commonly used. I learn how tricky it is to move seamlessly from one song to the next, and how it’s all about fine-tuning the beat and queuing up the various songs perfectly.I’m not serious enough about my DJ fantasies to take the whole course, but sign up for this if you’re interested in the technicalities behind the beats and want to learn from a maestro (DJ Mo Tiger is now pioneering video DJing in the Middle East).
Dhs3,500 for an eight-week Digital DJ course. Next course begins September 19, Sundays and Tuesdays 6pm-9pm. See www.dubai.sae.edu
We try Public speaking
Laura Chubb, Film editor
‘People would rather get knocked down by a truck and die than go up on stage and deliver a speech,’ reads the first line of the Orator’s Forum Institute brochure. That’s a touch hyperbolic – I’m not convinced I’d choose throwing myself under a bus over giving a speech – but it’s true that not many people can talk to a crowd without getting a bit sweaty and feeling their pulse ‘chug-chug’ in their ears. Learning to step on stage and hold forth with confidence is an appealing idea, not least because it’s always going to be useful – imagine going into the next office meeting or a job interview and blowing everyone away with your public speaking prowess.
However, for the most part it’s me that’s being talked to, as husband-and-wife team MR and Safiya Hussain bombard me with motivational platitudes, promising to ‘polish’ my personality. I’m told to ‘hypnotise’ my audience by making what I’m saying sound like fun and looking excited about it, which isn’t exactly revelatory. At the end of the course, everyone receives hypnotherapy to remove stage fright. I’m unconvinced that holding a cushion and talking to it as though it’s my six-year-old self has done that, although perhaps the biggest problem is the course doesn’t give me a chance to test it – there’s an Orator’s Forum Club where you practise public speaking with each other, but it’s not included on the basic course.
In the end, I’m not persuaded the ‘chug chug’ will disappear. But if you’re the type to read self-help books, no doubt there’s plenty you’ll find of use here.
From Dhs1,950; half-day to two-day courses and private coaching available. Knowledge Village, Block 18 (050 655 6209)
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