How Dubai is saving the world with house music. No really, according to these guys it is. We decided to investigate.
To the more straight-laced and – let’s face it – irredeemably miserable members of society, clubbing seems like nothing more than pure hedonism. Blowing wads of hard cash just so you can dance to loud music and swig down drinks in the name of fun? Tut tut! Well thankfully Elegante nightclub will show them a thing or two this Thursday, when it plays host to the second of three PixuNights, a special charity event dedicated to raising money to build residential facilities for underprivileged children in Peru.
The event – which is pronounced ‘Pitch-u-nights’, in case you were wondering – has been organised by the Pixunus, a team of nine philanthropic Dubai residents who want to help out those less fortunate elsewhere. But they’re not just dancing for charity; for the Pixunus, the Elegante nights – the first of which was held on 27 March – are merely a prelude to a 4.3 kilometre mountain trek to Machu Piccu, ‘the lost city of the Incas’.
One of those trekkers is Dany El-Eid, a Lebanon-born athlete who works as a marketing executive by day and a Thai boxing instructor by night. ‘I had done some trekking when I lived in France and I really got into it there, so I took the initiative,’ he explains. But what of that name? ‘“Pixunus” gives a Latin feel to it – in Catalan, “X” is pronounced “ch” – and it makes people curious because they don’t know how to pronounce it. We also wanted people to “pitch in”, so we twisted it a little bit there, too.’
And pitching in was exactly what happened, with companies and organisations stepping forward to help. ‘We got involved with Gulf for Good so they could help us with the organisational aspects of the charity; they are a non profit group that organises the trips, collects the money and donates it locally to wherever the trips are being held.’
Another company that stepped forward to help was Envac, a waste collection company that donated Dhs25,000 to the cause. But the biggest help in the long-run has come from Elegante. Dany explains: ‘Elegante wanted to do something different, something socially aware. And it made sense to us: instead of each of us raising money separately, why not raise money together while everyone enjoys themselves? People spend money when they go out anyway – why not ask them to use that money to contribute to the greater good?’
But while Elegante’s clientele only has to put on its dancing shoes to raise the money, things are a little tougher for the Pixunus, who have been undergoing an intensive weekly training regime since February. ‘We start off with a jog around Safa Park,’ explains Dany, ‘then we follow that with two 50m sprints and two 50m walks. Finally, we do an exercise called “suicides”, which is tough – you do two 100m sprints, then touch the floor and do 10 push-ups. Then you do two 150m sprints and then more push-ups. The name says it all, you know?’
For clubbers, of course, it’s going to be a little less intensive. But DJ Nick Tohme, who spins the platters at the PixuNights, assures us that the crowds will be expending a fair old bit of energy themselves, courtesy of his trademark house sounds. ‘It will be like every Thursday at Elegante – music-wise, it’s going to be banging house music. We’ll start with deep house, real minimal tracks, and go all the way through to electro – I also have to do the commercial stuff that the crowd expects, plus a couple of the R&B and oriental tunes that have made Elegante well known.’
And if the previous PixuNight is anything to go by, it should be an event to remember. ‘The one we had three weeks ago was amazing,’ Nick enthuses. ‘People were really buzzing about the cause. We’ve always had a very positive vibe and I feel that whenever we add something like a charity to the night, the positive feedback increases massively.
‘And I’m sure that this time is going to be even better. I don’t think anyone minds doing this; taking a small, small amount of the money that they spend on enjoying themselves and using it to help charity is a really good idea.’
For Nick it’s not just another night of fun at the club – the event also has a special personal meaning for him. ‘I’m Lebanese and we had a similar experience two years ago when the war in Lebanon was happening,’ he explains. ‘That time the fundraising gig was happening in Lebanon, but I was out of the country so I couldn’t participate in it. So I’m really happy to be doing the PixuNights this time around. And misery is the same everywhere so if we can help out, why not try?’
Nick Tohme plays PixuNights at Elegante on Thursday 24 April from 10pm-3am. Entry is free but all donations will be gratefully accepted. All proceeds go to charity. The final PixuNight will be held on 25 May. To donate money outside of PixuNights, use the payment details on www.gulf4good.org; make out all donations to Gulf for Good, but add a note requesting the money go through to ‘PixuNights’.