Drop the pout, the fancy hair and the flash clothes. Oh yeah – and no pretentious sunglasses after dark either. Forget what you know about Dubai’s fashionistas; the city is about to go scruff-crazy with Slob Fest, a new night dedicated to slovenliness. Here’s organiser Lynsey Gedman to give us the background: ‘I’m from London, where it’s not normal to dress up like an Oscar winner for a night out. It’s the music and people that make a night, not whether you’re wearing the right shoes. I wanted that in Dubai.’
Fancy shoes or no, Lynsey and her pals knew they had to take a big step towards reforming the city’s culture vultures. Drawing on fond memories of Dubai’s old Twisted Melons nights and tapping into the vein of current dress-down nights like Home at Chi, they decided to celebrate slumming in the most fun way possible. ‘Slob Fest is going to be a couple of hours of chilling, followed by a couple of hours of dancing, rounded off with a cheese manakesh from the nearby Lebanese Bakery. That’s my ideal night and I want to share it,’ Lynsey grins.
You can’t have dancing without music, of course, which is where our second player steps in. Steve Vaile is the owner of local music legends Dubai Lime, and one of Time Out’s recent Dubai Heroes. After being contacted by Lynsey, he proceeded to not only organise the night’s sound equipment (with the help of audio bods Access All Areas), but its music too. ‘The climax of the night is going to be a maddening crescendo of DJing and drumming,’ he says. ‘We’ve got Da:Funct DJing – he’ll be playing indie music – and he’ll be joined by Dubai Drums. They’re an African drumming ensemble and they’re fantastic.’
It’s not all hardcore dancing, though – that final set will be preceded by a more relaxed ambience from three of Dubai’s best solo musicians: Holly Major [see Major excitement] will be playing a toe-tapping set of funky folk music, Paul Nolan will play the acoustic songs that made him a hit at the recent José González gig and Tim Hassall will play sax and acoustic guitar. It’ll be a night of quality, dressed-down entertainment, but you can still get dolled up if you have to. ‘If there are people out there who just can’t bear to be separated from their Armani jacket then I’m not going to prise it off them,’ says Lynsey. ‘It’s a one-night-fits-all kind of event and I can’t ignore the fact that Dubai is all about the glitz. Still, a pair of loafers and a Gucci suit will look out of place.’
Despite its name, the night is really concerned with bigger things than how you look. It’s also working as an awareness-raising event to help two needy causes: Gulf4Good and Dubai Foundation For Women And Children. ‘I’m hoping to send money to Gulf4Good every month so we can start building schools and orphanages in Madagascar,’ says Lynsey. ‘It’s a fantastic charity that really needs continued support.
‘Then there’s the foundation. It’s the first government-backed shelter in Dubai that looks after women and children who have faced abuse. I feel very strongly that there are a lot of negative things going on underneath Dubai’s glitzy exterior and DFWAC is doing great things to help those in need.’
For now, Slob Fest is also helping those in need – of a fun, unpretentious night out. So has Steve ever experienced the snottier side of Dubai’s clubland? ‘Once I couldn’t get into Charlie Parrott’s because I had trainers on. This from a place with a four-foot plastic parrot next to the door,’ he laughs. And Lynsey? ‘One of my friends couldn’t enter a club because his shirt was missing a button,’ she says. ‘I don’t know what’s worse – being turfed out or having chest hair on display!’