Stuck for something to do at night? We’ve found a feast of fun, free entertainment livening up our city mid-week
The pub quiz is a strange beast. A British innovation, it transforms the public house’s uniform mid-week lull into a fierce battleground, where the warriors are fighting ruthlessly for pride (well, it can’t be the rubbish prizes). For one evening every week, heroes and villains are born and destroyed, lifelong friendships are put to the test, and remembering what the heck your biology teacher was on about when you were 16 has never been more essential.
No one seems to know how, when or why the pub quiz was born, although Marcus Berkmann, author of Brain Men: A Passion to Compete, says there’s little evidence of the pub quiz before 1970. Still, this seemingly haphazard invention has sewed itself into the social fabric of Great Britain: a 2009 study estimates there are 22,445 weekly pub quizzes in the UK, and a survey by UK TV channel Dave found eight out of 10 Brits have attended a pub quiz at least once in their lives. And it’s not just the British: the pub quiz has spread overseas, particularly to Australia and New Zealand. We hear there’s one every few hundred yards in Sydney on a Wednesday night, and the Kiwis even hold an annual champion of champions quiz in Auckland.
Lucky for us, the pub quiz has made it to Dubai, which means there’s more to do over the next few months of hot summer nights than you may think. We know, because we’ve put our reputations on the line, testing the city’s best quizzes just for you. Typically held on Tuesdays, packed with Dubai’s most competitive trivia tyrants and, even better, offering cash prizes, we uncovered a whole new side to Dubai’s nightlife – one without posing, VIP sections or gargantuan bar bills. Want to know which quiz has the fanciest prizes, the funniest rounds and the most free drinks?
Meet the team…
Laura Chubb, Film editor Specialist subject: Film Most heroic pub quiz moment: ‘Being the only person in the entire pub to know the answer to the question: With whom did Vic Reeves collaborate on his number-one single ‘Dizzy’? It’s The Wonderstuff, innit?’
David Donaghy, Head of Design Specialist subject: Sport Most heroic pub quiz moment: ‘Admittedly, I’ve not been to enough pub quizzes to have had a proud moment, but I do have the ability to “name that tune” within the first two bars. The skill has won me many a free drink over the years!’
Rebecca Milford, Senior sub-editor Specialist subject: Music Most heroic pub quiz moment: ‘Nine years old, school PTA fundraising quiz evening, I was the youngest contestant yet managed to score 10 out of 10 in the Guess the Flavour of the Crisps round.’
Oliver Robinson, Guides editor Specialist subject: Geography Most heroic pub quiz moment: ‘I was the only team member to recognise the intro to N Sync’s ‘Bye Bye Bye’ in the music round.’ That’s a proud moment?
Daisy Carrington, Food editor Specialist subject: Plasticine modelling Most heroic pub quiz moment: ‘Sculpting the winning entry in the Plasticine-modelling segment of Fibber Magee’s quiz. The topic was ‘How I get to work’, and I made a nifty flying car with a sheikh in the driver’s seat.’
Dubai’s coolest quiz! Fibber Magee’s
How did Team Time Out fare? It’s the team’s maiden voyage, and we have a shaky start with the geography round, which is unexpectedly tough – we get a miserable four out of 10 (the shame). Well, do you know which mountain is known as ‘The Tiger of the Alps?’ (clue: it’s the Matterhorn). When asked to model what we’ll be doing over the summer using Plasticine, Daisy’s work of art loses out to a team that merely squishes together a melted mess. Still, we score a respectable 51.5 out of 60, coming in third. We decide to hate the smug winning team, which even triumphs at bingo between rounds. We also note that Oliver has a distressing proclivity for shouting out answers for other teams to pinch.
Need to know Best team name: Emile Heskey?!
Standout round: ‘Plasticine-modelling’ and ‘Observation’ (using video clips), which qualify this for the coolest quiz in Dubai.
The quizmaster: Ali is a somewhat deadpan host. ‘I am very bossy and quite scary sometimes,’ she admits.
Hardest question: In what country is the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxis?
Easiest question: Name the actor or the film relating to the character Captain Jack Sparrow.
The prize: First prize is dinner for four at Fibber’s. There’s also a game of ‘Play Your Cards Right’ at the end of the night, where quiz contestants can win free drinks, bottles of premium beverage, and dinner for two. There’s also a free drink for the best team name.
Drinks deals? From 8pm, ladies get four free white beverages.
The competition: It’s pretty even, though the winners are way ahead of the pack. And did we mention smug? Tuesdays from 8pm at Fibber Magee’s, behind Costa Coffee on Sheikh Zayed Road, near Crowne Plaza (04 332 2400).
How did Team Time Out fare? Upon arrival, we realise every table in the house is reserved and the staff have to set up a special area for us. Uh oh – with this many regulars in attendance, we can expect some stiff competition. We’re also dealt an early blow when Oliver realises he’s locked his housemate out of the flat and must head home before we even get started. And the award for most unreliable team mate goes to…
Still, we put in a sterling performance, somehow scoring an unprecedented 14 out of 15 on the über-impossible geography round (see Need to Know, right). But sport aficionado David lets us down on the World Cup questions (Germany were odds on to win? Wrong!) and even the quizmaster seems to have it in for us, robbing the team of two points when he asks a question incorrectly: Q: Who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 1999? A: Mickey Rourke. He meant 2009, but didn’t award any compensation points.
Need to know Best team name: Let’s Get Quizzical
Standout round: The quizmaster plays a clip of an actor talking. You must name the actor, then answer an accompanying question.
The quizmaster: Rob can’t keep still and is forever roving the crowd. His music selection is so good it has us air-drumming.
Hardest question: For the picture round, we’re given a map of Europe without the names of countries, and 15 have numbers – we must name the countries corresponding to the numbers. Seeing as 11 are tiny and bunched around eastern Europe, this is challenging.
Easiest question: What team did Nicolas Anelka play for in the World Cup?
The prize: Dhs500 for the winners. Rob also gives away about 25 bevvies a night – some as spot prizes for naming the artist corresponding to a music clip in between rounds, and some for a ‘name the year’ bonus question at the end.
Drinks deals? It’s happy hour until 8pm. The competition: Tough. We scored 57 – a good 10 points ahead of most teams – and only came fourth. The winners scored 62. Mondays from 8pm at Aussie Legends, Rydges Plaza, Satwa (04 398 2222).
How did Team Time Out fare? Just over a year ago, we came to this quiz and left in pieces, beaten to a snivelling, bloody pulp by the hard-as-Vinny-Jones questions. Fast forward to now and the bored-looking Aussie quizmaster of yesteryear has been replaced by dreadlocked new host Emmanuel, a quizmaster who is most definitely feeling the love. ‘I am so happy to be here,’ he beams, before making everyone in the room feel like a genius by conducting The Easiest Quiz in the World. That said, Team Time Out doesn’t have great cause to feel superior, because we still only manage to come third, scoring 34 out of 40. Well, the six sole hard questions were hard.
Need to know Best team name: Cheating Dutchmen (a World Cup-themed title, we assume).
Standout round: Emmanuel actually plays the music live for the music round.
The quizmaster: The antithesis of your standard intimidating, take-the-mickey host, Emmanuel congratulates everyone on their scores and only once shows a dark side, telling potential phone cheats that ‘If I catch you, I kill you.’ Oo-er.
Hardest question: What does a cooper make?
Easiest question: Which political party’s symbol was the swastika during World War II?
The prize: Dhs150 for the winner, Dhs100 for the runner-up. If more than 10 teams participate, there’s a third prize of a bottle of house grape.
Drinks deals? It’s happy hour until 8pm.
The competition: It’s fairly even, seeing as most questions are jaw-droppingly easy (a sample question: What’s another name for an aubergine?). But Emmanuel tells us the same team wins every week – the occasion of our visit is no exception. Tuesdays from 8pm at Dubliners, Le Méridien Dubai, Airport Road (04 282 4040).
Why is this quiz different? ‘My wife Janet writes all the questions, which are designed so that the answer is in the question itself. So it’s more about solving riddles than happening to know the answer.’
Give us an example of a question. ‘If James is five, Henry is 13 and Edward is two, who is one? Most people think the question is about the royal family, but the answer is Thomas the Tank Engine.’
How popular is the quiz? ‘Our attendance record is 228, but usually we get around 150 people a week.’
What can we win? ‘Often our prizes are sponsored, so we’ve had things such as jewellery and bespoke tailored shirts. On weeks that it isn’t sponsored, the club gives away four rounds of golf.’ Tuesdays from 8pm, Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Emirates Road, in between the Autodrome and Global Village (04 366 3000). Posh Prizes!
So you think your quiz is hard? ‘It’s reasonably hard. In a round of 10 questions, people usually score a maximum of eight. Although some random man wandered in on his own once and scored 100 per cent. It was like he could read my mind.’
Spooky. Or he was a phone cheat. ‘Yeah!’
It’s the best pub quiz in Dubai because… ‘It’s good fun and we’ll have you home by 10.30pm on a school night, if that’s what you want.’
What do you win? ‘Dhs400 bar tab for the winners, plus personalised cufflinks and necklaces. Then it’s Dhs200 bar tab for the runners up and Dhs100 for third place. You win eight drinks if you guess the “who am I?” answer.’ Mondays from 8pm, Bidi Bondi, Shoreline Apartments 1-5, near Costa Coffee (04 427 0515). It's Quite Hard
What’s your policy on phone cheating? ‘Not only will I disqualify you from the quiz, but I will absolutely humiliate you, enough to change your character for life. Make sure you make it absolutely clear that I will humiliate anyone who cheats.’
Whoa, okay! Standout round? ‘The music round is always obscure, and has a theme. One week I played cover versions and you had to name the original artist. Another I played guitar solos and you had to name the song.’
What can we win? ‘There are three prizes: meals for four, three and two people, with drinks included. There’s also a bonus round where the team that scores the most points gets a round of free drinks.’ Mondays from 8.30pm, Boston Bar, Jumeirah Rotana Hotel, Satwa, near the roundabout between Al Wasl Road and Al Diyafa Road (04 345 5888). Happy Hour All Night
What would you say are your greatest quizmaster qualities? ‘I’m just havin’ a laugh. I make it fun. I scrapped the sport round cos it’s boring – I don’t want people to be sitting there thinking, “Do we have to do this quiz?”’
Do you give half points for almost-right answers? ‘Oh yeah – I’m not tough. I’ll deduct points if you go off to the toilets and phone a friend, though. Unless you buy me a drink.’
What do you win? ‘There are two prizes – a Player’s Lounge brunch voucher and a bucket of drinks. The winner chooses which they want and the runner-up gets the other.’ Mondays from 9pm, Player’s Lounge, Country Club Hotel, Port Rashid Road (04 398 8840). No Sport Round!
The funniest team names we can print
As much an institution as the pub quiz itself, giving your team a clever/funny name is tradition, with many quizzes awarding a prize for the best. Here are some of the funniest we’ve heard around town.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Train-Spotting Society