Check out these must-visit venues for an alternative evening
Time Out Dubai staff
It may be a while until the post-summer season sets in, but there’s plenty on the Dubai nightlife scene to keep you entertained until the likes of Lady Gaga rock up on our shores. From rocking rodeo nights to afro beats on the dancefloor, via one of Dubai’s original Tex-Mex institutions and the city’s highest bar, we’re rounded up the essential novel nights out to cross off your list while you’ve still got a few evenings free.
1UP Decorated with pictures of musical icons through the ages and screens showing the latest big matches, this TECOM bar somehow pulls off a dedication to both sport and music, serving both crowds well. When it comes to the latter, this may be the best place in New Dubai to get to grips with a mic. Held weekly, 1UP’s karaoke nights draw a big (and surprisingly male-centric) crowd, and is particularly popular among the city’s rockers, but alongside Metallica you can also expect to hear renditions of Let It Go’from Frozen… Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites, TECOM (04 434 5555).
Al Nasr Leisureland This family leisure centre has been going strong since it first opened way back in 1979, with its (now retro) ice rink, arcade games and small outdoor park filled with giant fruit-shaped playhouses. But the best bit about this unintentionally quirky destination – for adults, at least – is the little-known licensed bowling alley, serving drinks while you perfect your strike. Oud Metha, behind American Hospital (04 337 1234).
Après Watch professionals and amateurs as they whizz and tumble down Ski Dubai’s slopes at this ski lodge-themed bar and restaurant, complete with fake fireplaces. A busy hangout pretty much every night of the week, arrive early to nab a comfy booth, or book ahead to get a table by the window to be as close to the snowy action as possible. For those from the northern hemisphere, this is also one to bear in mind for the winter, when you’re missing the seasonal icy blast of home. Mall of the Emirates (04 341 2575).
At.mosphere A must-do on anyone’s list, whether you live in the city or are just passing through. The highest bar in the country, sitting on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, serves up some fantastic mixed beverages to match the incredible views of Downtown Dubai and the surrounding city. Thick carpets, low velvet seating and lacquered woods set the tone for a seriously sophisticated night out. Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Garage Club This long-standing bar and nightclub in Deira has regular live entertainment and an emphasis on African music. Pick up a drink and soak up the motoring theme, with wheels and various other car parts all forming a large part of the decor. If you’re brave enough to join the winding masses on the dancefloor, prepare to have your work cut out in order to match up to the competition. Ramee International Hotel, Deira (04 224 0222).
Pancho Villa’s One of Dubai’s first Tex-Mex nightspots, this restaurant and bar has been going for decades down in Bur Dubai, and is one of the city’s original party spots. While not so well-known now among newer residents or those who confine their nights out to swankier, venues, Pancho’s offers bags of fun, with its regular live entertainment, friendly staff and affordable drinks. Astoria Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 353 4300).
Rodeo Drive Relatively new to the scene, this all-American bar above The Stables offers brilliant bargains on beverages throughout the week and a whole lot more to boot. Dominating the centre of the room is a huge bucking bronco arena, plus a foosball table and a stage for live entertainment, while upstairs on a mini mezzanine you’ll find a handful of ‘drinks’-pong tables (making your house party games somewhat more official). Above The Stables, near Fibber Magee’s, off Sheikh Zayed Road (04 386 9617).
Skyview For a special occasion, drinks at the Burj Al Arab’s 27th-floor bar is a fool-proof option. Set in the tubular structure that crosses the hotel’s spine, Skyview offers breathtaking views of the Jumeirah shoreline and – on a clear day – a peek down to the city’s taller Burj in Downtown Dubai. As you might expect for such a luxurious address, there’s a minimum spend of Dhs320 per person, and you won’t even be allowed across the bridge to the hotel without a reservation. Burj Al Arab, Umm Suqeim (04 301 7600).
Speakeasy A classy American bar themed around the tradition of speakeasies during the US prohibition era of the 1920s. Despite upmarket surroundings, the atmosphere is laid-back and welcoming – and there’s even a jukebox to allow you to pick your own tunes when the live band take a break, plus a darts area for those to whom a night out is nothing without a bit of pub sport. Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Marina (04 439 8888).
SPiN Dubai An import of the American ping-pong bar, whose founders including Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, SPiN Dubai fuses nightlife with sport. While the mixologists whip you up a drink, hit the tables and challenge your fellow night owls to a game of table tennis. There’s a live band Saturday to Wednesday from 9pm and true to the city’s love of all things shiny and expensive, there’s even a real gold ping-pong table. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 370 7707).
The Act ‘The world’s highest theatre club’ on the 42nd floor of the Shangri-La Hotel makes its return on Monday August 4, kicking off the season with a new theme for its dinner show. Showtime! takes diners backstage to experience the drama behind putting together a high-level theatre production, before the real cast come to life. There will be three fixed-price menus with a Peruvian-fusion theme available to enjoy during the show, with prices starting from Dhs300. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 355 1116).