Our country’s capital is, it seems, turning into the place to go for big-name music festivals. Oh, Dubai’s not doing badly – we’ve got Ministry of Sound, Defected, Fierce Angel and a bunch of other record labels popping in for a night every month or so – but nothing we can offer holds a candle to this month’s Creamfields event, which will bring together some of the biggest names in dance music (think Erick Morillo, Calvin Harris and Sasha) for a 10-hour danceathon.
How do they get so many star DJs out to the Middle East at once? Ah, that one’s easy: brand recognition. Creamfields is the biggest dance music festival in the world. The UK event now spans two days and pulls in the likes of Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, Mylo and Basement Jaxx, while the international brand has also taken Creamfields to Buenos Aires, Brazil, Andalucia and the Czech Republic.
It wasn’t always like this, of course. The whole thing kicked off back in 1997 when the owners of the 3,000-capactity Cream nights in Liverpool, England, saw how comfortably dance music was settling into the mainstream and decided to take a chance. The inaugural one-day Creamfields event, held in August 1998 with headline sets from rappers Run DMC and alt-rock band Primal Scream, managed to pull in 25,000 people – enough to bring the festival back the following year. And the next. And the next.
As the years rolled on the festival began to focus more tightly on dance music. As its musical direction narrowed, Creamfields’ ambitions broadened and the event began to creep into other countries. Ireland got the first non-UK Creamfields festival in 2000, while Buenos Aires, which had hosted Cream nightclub events for years, introduced Creamfields to the rest of the world the following year. In fact, Creamfields Buenos Aires is now one of the biggest dance music festivals on the globe, regularly pulling in 60,000 people.
All of which brings us to the latest Creamfields event: the first to happen in the Middle East and the biggest thing ever to happen to dance music in the UAE. It may even have the potential to expand to two days like the UK event, assuming this one pulls in enough punters. Will it? Cast your eyes over these two pages and decide for yourself.
Creamfields Abu Dhabi is at Emirates Palace on December 11, Dhs495-995. Tickets from www.timeouttickets.com
Notes from the Underworld
Karl Hyde of alternative dance band Underworld talks about humble beginnings and very nasty vices.
How did you guys meet?
We met when we were both working in the kitchens of an American-style diner in Cardiff, Wales. Rick was cooking and I was making salads and desserts. We both had to scrub the back yard free of slugs and clear up the bin bags that the tramps had opened and urinated on in the night. Fun times.
So you weren’t the spotty Kraftwerk geeks in the corner of the school playground?
No – the stuff we were into was too weird for the geeks.
‘Born Slippy.Nuxx’ is obviously your most celebrated track. Does it still exhilarate you, or do you include it begrudgingly in your set lists?
No, it’s always easy to include it in the show. The rush of joy we feel from every audience that we play it to means that we’ll always have it in there somewhere.
It’s been 15 years since the film Trainspotting brought that song to the world’s attention. How do you look back on those days?
When I look back on any period it has large holes in it – drink will do that to a boy.
Was the song’s most famous lyric (‘lager, lager, lager’) referring to your alcoholism?
Yeah – lyrically, ‘Born Slippy’ was a cry for help to stop drinking. It was never supposed to praise alcohol, though it may have been taken up by many as an anthem for any manner of night out. Not everyone understands that the ‘lager, lager, lager’ chant was a metaphor: picture an unhinged boy trawling the night streets, unhappy and alone. What a cheery image!
Underworld play the main stage.