There’s no contesting that the guys at Nasimi know how to throw a good shindig. Unless you’ve been living in a locked cupboard these past few weeks, you can’t fail to have heard about the enormously popular pool parties that wouldn’t look out of place in Ibiza. But even these, for which heaps of Dubaians clamour for guestlist spots, will be nothing compared with Sandance on Friday October 15. A 12-hour event, the day will be split into three sections; the first kicks off with Da Sendri at 2pm, before UK duo Zero 7 take to the stage for a DJ set. The second part of the day will see Charl Chaka warm up the sunset for Pierre Ravan and a full live show from UK electro act Chicane. In the third and final part of the day, Smokingroove, UK dance act Baby D (‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’), Beirut’s Ronin & Nesta and Armand Van Helden will take to the sand.
Naturally, the organisers are anticipating an enormous turnout, so instead of hosting the event on the newly renovated Nasimi Beach, the action is taking place on an entirely different beach next to Aquaventure waterpark. While the beloved sands of Nasimi can typically hold a crowd of about 3,000, this new location will be able to accommodate a staggering 10,000 people. So who can you expect to see and hear during this 12-hour party marathon? Here’s who…
With so many gems on their 2001 debut album, Simple Things, Zero 7 weren’t going to escape attention for very long. Tracks such as chill-out favourite ‘Destiny’ and ‘In The Waiting Line’ – the latter appearing on the soundtrack for 2004 movie Garden State, with vocals from Sia Furler and Sophie Barker – have helped British duo Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker cross into the mainstream. Another three studio albums and a greatest hits compilation later, they have a lot of material from which to compile their live sets.
So do they know what they’re going to play at Nasimi? ‘Not yet,’ says Binns. ‘It could go a lot of different ways, but I think I definitely tend to play more mellow stuff. You never quite know what people are going to expect of us,’ he explains. ‘I think there’s probably a notion that we’re going to turn up with ocean waves of beautiful caressing sounds, and sometimes there will be some of that, but generally it’s more of
a dance-based thing.’
As difficult as it is to label the Zero 7 sound, Binns also struggles to pick a favourite from their back catalogue. ‘I’m a bit like Woody Allen – I can’t really listen to it, or look at it. Erm… I do like ‘The Pageant
of the Bizarre’ on The Garden… I do find myself not turning that one off if it comes on,’ he laughs. As well as this being his first trip to Dubai, Binns hasn’t met any of the other artists also on the line-up for Sandance, but is looking forward to having a drink with them. ‘I hope they like us, man! It would be amazing to meet Armand Van Helden – he’s a bit of a legend isn’t he?’ he quips.
As for the future, Zero 7 are looking at a blank canvas after reaching the end of their contract with Atlantic Records; it seems they couldn’t be happier about it. So have they any vocalists in mind for the next album? ‘I’m not interested in big celebs. Imagine if we suddenly made a record with Janet Jackson. I love Janet’s stuff, but I think it would somehow be a bit of a smelly sock.’ Eh? ‘It’s seems a bit forced, you know?
Like, [adopts American accent]
“We’re gonna try and write a hit!” rather than a quest for good music,’ he continues. ‘I don’t know, I’m so twisted. There you go – I said it.’
For British dance act Chicane, aka Nick Bracegirdle, this gig will be a far cry from one of the shows he performed in Manila, which he describes as ‘probably one of the craziest moments’.
‘We played a cock-fighting arena – as in, hens – which had signs on the door saying “Please leave your handguns in the car”. My drink got spiked and I went completely mental, I dislocated my shoulder, puked over three or four people, got put to bed… It was brilliant,’ he says. ‘Quality stuff.’
With a history of playing to enormous crowds, including an audience of 100,000 in Moscow’s Red Square, surely an event such as Sandance is a far less intimidating prospect? After all, over the past 14 years Nick has worked with artists from Bryan Adams to Tom Jones, and has had a number of hits including the Ibiza smash ‘Offshore’.
‘Red Square was bonkers,’ he explains. ‘It’s a bit weird – you can’t see the end of the crowd. It’s absolutely nuts. For me, it kind of takes the pressure off, somehow. It’s a lot less daunting than having 50 people watch you close-up. I guess when you do these huge festivals, the crowd is quite a long way from you, so maybe you feel safe,’ he surmises.
For his live shows, Nick is joined by a full band, including singers, guitarists, drummers and flautists, with Nick himself on keyboards. So what can we expect from the gig at Sandance? ‘We’ll probably be doing stuff from the new album, and obviously a lot of the classic stuff,’ he says. ‘A great gig is about 80 per cent recognition, so until the new record filters through into people’s consciousness, they’re going to be harder tracks to play.’
Ronin & Nesta
Partying is all in a day’s work for Lebanese house DJs Ronin & Nesta, who have been flying between France and Lebanon for numerous gigs, including Techno Parade in Paris, in the run-up to their set at Sandance, not to mention keeping up their residency in popular dance club Basement in Beirut.
‘I’m really looking forward to Dubai – I think it’s going to be one of our best gigs,’ says Ronin (real name Ronald Hajjar), during a phone call between meetings in his native Beirut. ‘I’ve heard a lot about Dubai, and I’m expecting a very mixed, international crowd. Very dynamic.’
Though they’ll be playing a set of deep house, tech house and minimal, they’ve got a lot of time to kill from landing at the airport at midday until they take the stage after midnight. ‘I think we’ll hang out with the crowd during the day, maybe for two or three hours, mingle with the people, check out the ambience and how it’s going…’ says Hajjar. ‘Then maybe we’ll talk to the DJs, meet them and get to know them better, then get ready for our set – we’re on until 2am.’
Tickets are Dhs150 regular, Dhs250 VIP; available from Nasimi at Atlantis and www.timetimeouttickets.com. For VIP table bookings, call Shaunella on 055 200 4321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How will they prepare?
With such an early kick-off (no doubt a few of you will barely have finished your cornflakes at 2pm when the Sandance party gets started), we asked members of the line-up how they’ll be getting ready for their performances…
‘I think it involves [Russian drinks]. I used to be dreadfully nervous. Really, really bad.’
Nick Bracegirdle, Chicane
‘I like to stay quiet, say a little prayer and conserve my energy.’
Dee Fearon, Baby D
‘We’re going to grab a couple of drinks before the night. We have a lot of friends working in Dubai, playing there, so we’re all gathering before the party.’
Ronald Hajjar, Ronin & Nesta
In the sunshine
Listen to: ‘La Ventura (remix)’
Listen to: ‘Home’
Listen to: ‘Fire in my Soul’ mix
Listen to: ‘AfroJazzin’
Listen to: ‘Come Back’
Listen to: ‘Check Me Out’
Listen to: ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’
Ronin & Nesta
Listen to: The duo’s warm-up for Tiësto on YouTube.com
Armand Van Helden
Listen to: ‘I Want Your Soul’