Resting in the Arabian Gulf under the view of the majestic Burj Al Arab hotel, the open-topped 360° bar has become well known as one of the most impressive venues on the Dubai nightlife scene, with its two main weekend nights – Audio Tonic and Revolve – attracting some of the world’s top DJs. But in early January new restrictions on outdoor events meant that the volume was turned down. Thankfully, those quiet days have passed; it’s business as usual for 360° – and nobody is happier than Mike Bufton and Kristian Valdini, regular DJs at the club and promoters for the Audio Tonic and Revolve nights, respectively.
‘It’s great to be back, absolutely brilliant,’ says Mike, better known as DJ Mr Mr. ‘It’s been a while – the venue was open without DJs in December and January – but it was pretty cold then anyhow.’ Kristian is equally chipper about the whole affair: ‘Although it was frustrating during January and February due to the uncertainty concerning outdoor events, it did allow people to relax a little and ready themselves for what promises to be an awesome series of events over the coming months.’
And with Dubai’s summer heat already picking up, the boys are doing their best to pack in as much as possible before the city’s thermometer heads too far in the other direction. But Mike is careful to emphasise that they won’t be turning the volume up to 11. ‘It’s certainly loud enough for everyone to have a great time and enjoy the music,’ he says, ‘but we’re not tearing up the amps and being silly, there’s no need for that. It’s at an optimum level for everyone… and at least we won’t be getting tinnitus too quickly.’
So what can we expect from the coming months at the rejuvenated venue? Up first is Friday’s house night Audio Tonic. ‘The night isn’t pigeonholed into one specific genre of house music,’ says Mike. ‘It kind of spans sub genres, specifically deep house, progressive, tech and funky-ish stuff – but nothing commercial!’
And what of Revolve on Saturday nights? ‘It starts at 5pm and finishes at 2am – or 3am if you are very lucky,’ Kristian explains. ‘That gives us the perfect chance to play a huge cross-section of music spanning many genres as day moves through to night. Our resident DJs, Julian and Matthew, have an encyclopedic knowledge of dance music and are not afraid to show it as they take people on a journey mixing up Balearic chill out, deep soulful vocals and techy electronic beats. Simply put, we play very nice music without trying to be too cool or directional.’
Of course, you can’t do a big comeback without special guests, which is why Mike and Kristian have booked guest DJs to mark the occasion. Belgian duo Spirit Catcher are heading the bill on Friday night (see right), something which has got Mike all a-quiver: ‘I first heard them in 2005, having had one of their tracks sent to me by a friend. After that, I dug deeper into the world of their deep nu-disco electronic geniusism – the first thing that came to mind when I heard them was “fresh”!’ In fact, Mike lists Sprit Catcher’s two previous appearances at 360° as his most spectacular moments there. Honest opinion or cheeky self-promotion? You’ll have to see it yourself to decide.
Revolve, meanwhile, is hosting Tom Murgatroyd and TJ Stafford, two of Kristian’s old pals: ‘Funnily enough, I met both of them at the same time, while I was at university in Newcastle, England,’ says Kristian. ‘Tom was a local legend on the busking circuit – playing the flute, no less! – and TJ used to be a club dancer and DJ in the local Ritzy nightclub. Tom badgered TJ into letting him play his flute ‘live’ over one of his DJ sets on the same night that I was also on the DJ lineup. We hit it off straightaway and have been friends ever since. Tom has since gone on to become a superstar DJ touring the world with the HouSexy label and TJ has tasted fame by appearing in the football film Goal. And I have somehow managed to book the pair of them to play Dubai at the same event!’
It’s going to be one heck of a weekend, then, and will no doubt pull in an up-for- it crowd. But given the club’s location in one of the classiest – and most expensive – corners of Dubai, can mere mortals like the Time Out crew expect to see some celebs dancing it up on the night? Kristian and Mike can’t seem to agree. ‘We practically have to beat them out of the DJ booth,’ claims Kristian, ‘perhaps the department of tourism might relax its policy and allow blonde socialites to buy tables in the booth to cater for the demand?’ But Mike’s not having any of it, poor chap: ‘I never see them – I have no idea what he’s talking about!’
Audio Tonic, Friday March 28, 360°, 4pm-2am. Revolve, Saturday March 29, 360°, 5pm-2am. Free entry after 8pm; to enter earlier, register at www.platinumlistdubai.com.